Wednesday, 20 October 2010

What jet lag does to you

It makes you sleep until 10.15 am, that's what, and the very next minute the telephone rings and it is the receptionist from your physiotherapist, who wonders why you have not arrived for your 10 am appointment. Oh dear.

So here I am back home again, hanging on the the memories, and trying to sort out the jumble of places and images of the three weeks in Spain.

The return flight takes so long that arriving is a true deliverance. The last flight was foul, on an older plane, with incredibly uncomfortable seats, and nowhere to stow my stuff. And this was business class, so I hate to think of the discomforts suffered in economy class. On arrival I was hanging on to the last shreds of a capacity to cope, and it was so good to get home.

Having said that, and despite a happy reunion, reality immediately bashed me in the face.

It is almost 3 am and I was awakened by Dr P, who was rummaging around in the bathroom and looking for orange juice in his bar fridge, for about half an hour. I got him back to bed. He is asleep, but I am awake, with my mind tossing and turning, and wondering how to manage this next stage of life.

Dr P was very glad to see me, very clingy, and very needy too. Everything was evidently managed well during my absence, by the combination of my eldest stepdaughter and her son, and the 3rd stepdaughter, J2, who works in Indonesia. She and her partner took off early next morning for a 6 weeks holiday in South America, and I have seen SD1 only for several minutes when she arrived to take them to the airport, which means that there has been no opportunity for any sort of review (I almost wrote de-briefing - horrid term). The carer I had engaged to come in and help with showering and dressing, and other help as required, finished the day of my return. I gather she 'babied' him a bit, as she is used to severe cases of dementia, but it seems that she looked after him well, and saved his daughters and grandson from having to do the more intimate care. Really though, he just wants me.

My own observations, on this third night at home, is that there has been quite a deterioration in Dr P's condition. He is much more feeble, much less mobile, extremely forgetful, and his concentration is worse. Fortunately he is biddable - that sounds awful, and as though it refers to a very young child. However he has always had a very strong and forceful personality, and, to put it mildly and kindly, was never very amenable to persuasion. Now I am having to tell him what to do and what is going to happen. It does not come easily to me, but I am getting accustomed to it. And I find it so desperately sad, to see this deterioration in a person of such strength and formidable intellect and personality. It must be ghastly to have the actual experience, although in some ways he seems not to be very aware of it. Since the Aged Care Assessment was done in May, the change has become quite rapid.

I must now reactivate the Aged Care Assessment process, and try to get urgent home based respite care. We do have an entitlement, but I think this needs to be made an urgent case. If this is possible, of course. While this takes place, I will call the agency who provided the carer during my absence, to continue the care for the days when I go to my classes. That would enable me to get out of the house punctually and not to have to worry too much.

I do not think there will be much help forthcoming from my eldest step-daughter, although one can always hope. She and her family will be away for six weeks from Christmas, and we have no other support available, other than a couple of friends who might call in from time to time.

While Dr P sleeps for much of the day, and has a Panic Button to press for emergencies, there is still the worry that he might fall. He apparently had one fall while I was away. If he falls, it would be difficult for me to get him to his feet, as he is a very big and heavy man, and I am small.  This is a real worry.

All the experts say it is important to 'lead your own life', and this is certainly true. What is also true is that things will become progressively more difficult.

Time to try and get some sleep.


Pam said...

Oh dear. I do sympathise. My dad, who was very brilliant and formidable, ended up as a feeble old man in a nappy, and it was just awful. And now my confused aunt, who was a doctor and very efficient and energetic, sits all day in a chair looking into space. Do get all the help you can. You need a life too.

Anonymous said...

Jet lag is indeed an awful experience. It always takes me at least a week to adjust after coming back to Australia. I hope your recovery is more quick.

Perhaps one benefit of going away is that you were able to recognise the changes in Dr P's condition, whereas if you had not gone away you might not have noticed the smaller day-to-day differences.

I had meant to reply to your email while you were away, and oh dear, now you are back and I have not yet written. I am sorry, and will try to remedy my neglect soon!

Meggie said...

I am being told the same. I must live my own life, but this seems difficult if not impossible, when the rhthym of our lives depends on his moods.
I do feel for you, and know you have a much harder role than I do.
I hope you can continue to have a 'life' as they say.

Snowbrush said...

I rejoice for you that you had a good trip, but I am very sorry for your worries now that you are home.

Both of my parents are dead, and, sad though that is, there is also a lot of relief in it.

molly said...

This one slipped through the cracks on me.....I so sympathize. My F-I-L was a very forceful man always [dare I say arrogant?] It is strange for me to see how feeble he has become, though he stops short of being biddable! His dream is that his daughter will move here from NY. She does not seem inclined, except for a week here and there, so he is stuck with every other day visits from me!!