Monday, 10 May 2010


Last week we had an ACAT (Aged Care Assessment Team) visit. A very pleasant and intelligent young man interviewed Dr P and me about his overall condition, our needs, prospects and what services are available for us. The paperwork was completed and approvals given for access to various services, such as low care respite accommodation.

Despite his fairly extensive memory problems and his limited mobility, Dr P is doing well. He can subtract rapidly, and answered all questions accurately. He is not showing signs of dementia. I did not think he was, although there is occasional confusion, possibly mostly related to the memory failures. He must have felt fairly relaxed about the interview and assessment, as he admitted to a couple of problems and needs, and to wanting solutions for them. I had, at the last moment, wondered whether I should invite SD1 over to participate, but did not. This was the right decision. Dr P would probably have been less forthcoming if she had been present. Embarrassment in front of daughter was thus avoided, which is a good thing.

Apparently at present there are some hours available for home based respite care, so it may be possible to get someone to be in the house while I go to my regular activities. Whether or not Dr P will be happy about this when it comes to the crunch is perhaps debatable, but it is worth a try, and could well make him feel more secure when I am not home. Part of the value of all this is to be better prepared for our future, both psychologically and physically. I do not feel quite so alone and unsupported. There is little that needs to be done inside the house to make it easier physically for Dr P, as house modifications were made after his spinal surgery about five years ago, and then another couple of years ago. But if there is need, I can arrange for additional domestic support.

All this made me feel quite encouraged. Then on Friday Dr P had a medical appointment, and getting him there and back was difficult, and required plenty of time. Naturally, although there are many disabled parking spots close to hospitals, there are even more disabled people needing them. Lots of sick people are around, all day, every day. That is normal life, around there. I dropped Dr P off and parked the car. Even to get to the clinic was quite a long walk for Dr P. After the appointment he had to have a blood test. When we had finished at the hospital, I went to get the car, leaving Dr P on a bench outside. I had to wait to get into the small area where you can pick up people. People and cars are coming and going all the time. It is busy, and it takes time. As Dr P neither saw me arrive nor heard me toot, I had to get out of the car, go to him and help him to the car. I then got abused by a taxi driver, who thought he'd been kept waiting too long. It made me incandescent with rage, so I yelled back at him, wished him many bad things and called him a bastard.

We'd left the house at 9 am, and by this time it was midday. On the way home we stopped to do some food shopping. Dr P could not manage at all well, and got very shaky. This time, instead of abuse, there were many spontaneous offers of help from people, but I had to truncate the shopping and get Dr P home. He is sympathetic, and appreciative of all I do, but I still feel furious and think many bad thoughts.

Since I wrote this, Dr P today told me he cannot remember meeting me, or our marriage, or practically anything else about us. Nor can he remember the births of his children. I wonder whether these memory failures are temporary or permanent.

The weekend was quite pleasant. A friend returned early from her trip to New York. She came round for dinner on Saturday night. Then there followed the usual post-being-at-the-pub carousing outside. Blokes - why is it always blokes? shouting and singing football songs, in the very wee and small hours. I gnashed my teeth, and did my best to close my ears.

On Sunday I made quince jelly, and an orange and almond cake. It is enjoyable having a cooking binge. A more essential task was sorting out the myriad bits of paper which arrive, settle in one's house like fruit bats, and then - some at least - mysteriously disappear. I cannot find the things I needed, only things I do not need. How God doth conspire to fill my time. If the deity would only conspire to make me better organised in the first place I would truly give thanks.

One last thing. It was borne in on me by a comment that not everyone knows the meaning of the word furphy. The OED does not list it. It is regarded as a slang word, although to my mind it has passed beyond the realm of slang. It comes from the name of one of our noted authors, Joseph Furphy, who, under the nom de plume Tom Collins, wrote the early Australian classic Such is Life.

Furphy means a stupid rumour or a baseless and unfounded idea, something raised as a possibility or prospect, without there being any basis for it. This is from the ABC's Kel Richards:


I’ve spoken before on WordWatch about furphy – the Australia word for a false or unreliable rumour.

I remind you of all this now because of a new book that’s just been published

In the First World War the firm of J Furphy and Sons operated a foundry (in Shepparton, Victoria) from which they supplied a line of water carts to the Australian Army. These (inevitably) became the place where diggers gathered and gossiped. The name Furphy was prominently printed on the back of each water cart, and became the name for the unreliable gossip and rumours exchanged there. I remind you of all this now because of a new book that’s just been published called: Furphy: the Water Cart and the Word. The authors are John Barnes and Andrew Furphy. (The latter, I take it, being a descendent of the original Mr Furphy.) The book claims to challenge common misconceptions, and to give a (quote) “full and authentic account” of the making of the legendary water cart – and of the word it inspired.


Meggie said...

Very interesting post. It seems we all forget that a lot of our local words are unknown in the wider world. Someone asked me what is a spruiker?
We take our regional language for granted. It is the same the world over I think.
I am so glad you can get help for care of Dr P. As to the disables parking dilemma, I get unfuriated every time I see able bodied folk parking in these spots. We dont need one yet, but the day will come.

Elisabeth said...

Here in Australia, we all know about Furphys. There was an article in the newspaper about the Furphy family only recently. They're still alive and well, along with their water tanks.

As for Dr P. - You might be interested to check our Esther Helfgott's blog - if you don't already know it.


Her husband, Abe, reminds me of your Dr P, though I think Abe's further advanced along his journey.

Zenom said...

If you were to write a book;
What type would it be?
What would it be about?
If you wrote it, would you buy it or perhaps who would its audience be?
Would a single book contain it?

Blogging gives you dabblings into your literary craftiness as clearly evidenced, but perhaps there could be more craftiness ahead...

Frances said...

Furphys have raised lettering on one end, amongst which, (as well as a message written in Pitman's shorthand), is the adage which was commonplace in my childhood: "Good, better, best,/Never let it rest,/ Till your good is better,/And your better best.
I hated and resented it then, but merely loathe it now.

Relatively Retiring said...

I do hope you get the respite care, and that you'll be able to take advantage of it.
My thoughts and sympathies are with you.

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