Chapter 21: Kittens in the bed clothes
I could tell I wasn’t going to get much sleep when I saw Joan talking to someone.
What’s that Joan i ask.
Oh just talking to my son.
I don’t know whether to tell her she’s hallucinating.
But I don’t. Is that unkind of me?
She’s swapped beds with Sheila because she’s been getting out of bed and falling and the nurses want to keep a closer eye on her.
I ask one of the nurses why have you dumped a ranting jumper on me?
Well that’s better than a jumping ranter comes the reply.
I paused thinking.
Well yes maybe.
Joan is rummaging around with the sheets on her bed.
What’s up now?
There’s an animal in my bed. I think it’s a kitten.
Well a kitten won’t hurt you I say trying to reassure her. It’s probably trying to find somewhere warm and safe to sleep.
Oh I don’t mind cats. It’s snakes I wouldn’t want in my bed.
Neither would I but there aren’t any big snakes in England.
I thought of the 1 metre cobra that lived around my condo in Malaysia.
Last seen after consuming a full litter of six Persian greys over the course of a week. One kitten a day.
I decided not to tell her that bit.
Chapter 22: Conversations in the night time
I now know the names of Joan’s children.
Darren is the naughty one – the frequent subject of admonition for bad behaviour.
Then there’s a Michael and a John.
Sometimes you can hear the anger on her voice. Others It’s pleading: please don’t do that.
She’s apparently recalling moments from a long forgotten past.
Is it because she’s sad at how life has turned out or because it was a serious or dangerous incident?
Or because she feels like she’s failed her kids or her kids have failed her?
Impossible to know. She certainly won’t know if I ask her now.
Then shouting: sorry for waking you all up.
I think you haven’t given me the chance to get to sleep yet.
Finally at about 4am she passes out.
After the day shift starts Joan is still unconscious. Her mouth is wide open.
I joke with the nurses asking if they can apply a gag tonight.
No, they say.
Good job I can’t get out of bed independently then to do it myself.
Yes just as well.
How how about me practicing my hand eye coordination with the Velcro balls I use in the gym ‘dart board’? I’m eyeing Joan’s mouth as the goal.
We all laugh and we are being horribly cruel to joke at Joan’s expense. Her condition is not her fault.
If she is diagnosed with dementia she’s not alone.
Our gallows humour is our way of coping faced with the prospect of a similar fate in future.
That intangible thing life has designed we can’t pre-determine to preserve our reason for being and our sanity.
Rates of dementia in the UK are skyrocketing as elsewhere in the world. The projected figures of dementia sufferers in the next decade are horrifying.
And it’s more than obvious more money needs to be pumped into the creaking health system now to cope with the care needs of today.
Let alone tomorrow.
Chapter 23: Defying gravity
You may know the Space Shuttle burned almost two million litres of liquid hydrogen and oxygen to escape the gravitational pull of the earth.
Creating over five million Newtons’ of force.
I don’t actually understand this, and I was rubbish at physics in school but the numbers alone suggest a bucket load of pushing power that anyone might need to pee uphill.
Essentially though one big controlled explosion.
This afternoon I was lying on my back with a She Wee shoved between my legs in a serious discussion with my physio practitioners Veronica and Jessie as to whether this was even a possibility.
As I looked down towards my groin all I could see was the plastic extension tube from my She Wee pointing skyward. Much like an erect thin pink penis.
You can have a purple one if you prefer, or Nato Green and even Desert Sand, though for some reason I’m reminded of Norman Schwarzkopf and Gulf War One, not exactly conducive for taking a leak.
We’re trying to find ways I can safely pee at night at home without getting out of bed while I’m still recovering from the MS attack which has stopped me weight bearing on my legs and transferring from bed to chair and onto toilet.
(Two weeks of enforced bed rest hasn’t helped me either, thank you NHS)
I’m laughing so much at even the prospect of trying I might even piss myself. Which of course would prove the point either way I suppose.
Music festival goers, campers and general outdoorsy ladies will already be familiar with this bit of kit.
I’ve used it on safari in Kenya too.
Obviously meant to be used standing up, the idea is that in my current reality I’d roll onto my side and place the She Wee between my legs and point the extension tube aka the pink penis into a bag containing little moisture absorbing capsules that turn liquid into solid jelly.
No leaks, no liquid, no wet sheets. No risk of infection or bed sores.
The aim: to stay dry till morning when the carers come again.
The care system dictates carers can only come up to 4x a day morning, lunchtime, afternoon, evening and not overnight.
So what to do when you pee at night and not much during the day like I do? Necessity being the mother of all invention…
I tried on my side. I tried on my back. I just tried.
But on earth pee can only go one way.
Real world testing shows Newton’s laws can be broken if you are piloting the Space Shuttle into outer space.
And I personally am not about to stick a rocket up my ass to prove him wrong.
She Wee test experiment 0 Newton’s laws of gravity 1