Mater

(Thursday morning)

Mum was so much better when I saw her yesterday. She has responded well to the reduced-strength pain killers evidenced by the fact that, while I was there, her physio team came in (three of them) and got her up out of her chair. She walked about five yards, holding a zimmer, before turning around and walking back again.

The antibiotic seems to have worked too; she was alert, chatty and responsive

Despite there being a vast improvement after the service to her hearing aids Mum is still very hard of hearing. Tish came down from her office to visit at lunch time and the two of them had a conversation, which ended with Tish crying with laughter and Mum wondering what was so funny. The conversation is transcribed below.

TISH: Hi Mum, how did you sleep?
MUM: Yes thanks.
TISH: Haha, (slightly louder) I asked how you’re feeling
MUM: (puzzled expression) Only the top. The bottom ones keep falling out
TISH: (looking extremely confused) What on earth are you talking about?
MUM: (opens mouth to display top row of dentures and toothless bottom jaw) I have to speak to the dentist about them
TISH (almost shouting) I ASKED HOW YOU’RE FEEE-LING?
MUM: Ahhh, sorry, I thought you were asking if I had my teeth in. I’m much better thanks
TISH: How is the pain?
MUM: (puzzled expression) How is the rain?
TISH: (louder) Watch my lips. HOW….IS….THE….PAIN?
MUM: What?
TISH: (shouting) HOW IS YOUR PAIN?
MUM: Bed??

At that point two things happened; there was a power cut and a male nurse, armed with a sheaf of papers and a pencil, appeared at mater’s bedside. The power cut was obvious to everybody except mother (probably because, from where she was lying, she couldn’t see the lights go off in the corridor and she definitely didn’t hear the dramatic changes to the background sounds) but that didn’t occur to us. The outage caused a monitor, attached to an elderly patient opposite mum,  to emit regular beeps. 

MALE NURSE:  (in heavily accented English) Goo’ af’ernoo’ Mrs. Eilertsen, wha’ you like for breakfuss tomorrow?
MUM: Oh hello Carlos. These are my children, David and Tish.
CARLOS: ‘ello. I em please to mit you. I am Giorgio
TISH & ME: Hello Giorgio. It’s nice to meet you
GIORGIO: Very goo’. Mrs. Eilertsen, wha’ you like for breakfuss
MUM: I will have porridge with sugar and cream
GIORGIO: (makes his notes) Hokay, very goo’. Goo’-bye
MUM: Goodbye Carlos
GIORGIO: I am Giorgio
MUM: I prefer to call you Carlos.
GIORGIO: Hokay, goo’-bye (withdraws)
TISH: Mum, why do you call him Carlos:
MUM: Because he looks like a Carlos. Can you hear that mouse squeaking?
TISH & ME: (listen intently for a while, hear nothing)
MUM: There it is again

I realised she could hear the intermittent beeping of the monitor opposite her and her hearing aid was translating the sound incorrectly

ME: It’s not a mouse mum, it’s an electronic sound you’re hearing
MUM: (puzzled) Red Jelly?

It was at this point that Tish started laughing.

When Tish left to go back to her day job, Mum’s second cousin Suzie, whom I’d never had the pleasure of meeting, arrived to visit. They’d just got through the greetings and I’d been formally introduced when Leanne, naturally anxious for news of her beloved grandmother, facetime called me.  I handed my phone to Mum who, despite countless tutorials and demonstrations on the functions of the app, held my phone up to her ear and shouted, “HELLO”

LEANNE: (clearly audible) Hi Nainie, how are you feeling?
MUM: HI MOUSE (that’s what we all call Leanne) WHAT A NICE SURPRISE
LEANNE: HOW ARE YOU FEELING?
MUM: SUZIE’S HERE. REMEMBER SUZIE?
LEANNE: (who had never met Suzie either) No, I don’t think I’ve ever met her.
MUM: HOLD ON. I’LL PASS THE PHONE TO SUZIE SO YOU CAN SAY HELLO (passes the phone to Suzie)
SUZIE: (holding the phone correctly, looking into the screen) Hello Leanne, it’s nice to meet you
LEANNE: (laughing self-consciously) Hello Suzie, it’s nice to meet you too.
SUZIE: I’ll pass you back to your grandmother
MUM: (phone returned to her ear) THANK YOU FOR CALLING MOUSIE. I’LL HAND YOU BACK TO YOUR DAD

While Mum and Suzie chatted Leanne brought me up to date with her latest news. She told me a rather funny story which she’s transcribed so I can share it with you. I’ve added [some comments] to provide clarity.

Leanne writes:

The Narambeen CRC (Community Resource Centre), [which Leanne heads up], held a multi-cultural event at the Café and afterwards, when I got home, I reflected on how smoothly the night had gone. I had no trouble going to sleep.

At exactly 1:09am my eyes flew open with sudden terror; “was the oven turned off? Of course it was”, I said to myself, “there were two other responsible adults with me, helping me to keep an eye on things. There’s no way we would have left it on. Would we?”.

I was seriously worried. I tossed and turned, imagining a variety of possible Newspaper headlines the next day; Narembeen Community Resource Centre Burns Entire Town and CRC Manager Faces Angry Pitchfork Wielding Mob. It didn’t matter how illogical it was; the more I told myself to “stop being silly” the more I was convincing myself I HAD left the oven on and the more worked up I got. I had started to liken the events to the Great Fire of London in 1666, when my thoughts shifted to whether or not Insurance would cover such an enormous claim – how often had an entire town been burnt down by someone’s negligence?

Enough was enough and I had to go check. I stumbled around in the dark, muttering to myself about the Great Fire of Narembeen 2017 which in turn woke the not so happy Happy [his name is really Glen, and he’s quite tall] who tried to stop my ridiculous thoughts. He did not win the argument; I was on a mission to save the town from my mistake.

At 2:36 am (yes I had argued with myself for an hour and a half) I pulled up outside the CRC on the main street. My barely functioning brain convinced me to keep the lights off when I unlocked the door and went inside “because”, I told myself, “you don’t want to draw attention to yourself”.

Once I got into the Café and established that the oven was indeed OFF I sighed a big sigh of relief. My brain then started working overtime again and I imagined another headline – Barefoot Burglar Busted in Dressing Gown, so I made a speedy exit and went back home to my bed.

Sadly l didn’t get much sleep (even though I’d put my mind to rest by going to the CRC and checking) so I was feeling a little rough in the morning and, because my restlessness had also disturbed Happy, he wasn’t feeling too bright either. Breakfast time passed with the two of us communicating in caveman style grunts then, after Happy had left for work, I discovered that in my state the previous night I had somehow locked my keys in the car. How I managed to do this is a mystery because the keys were still in the ignition and it’s a button lock, so it should have been impossible. So there I was again, in a state of despair, trying to get into the locked car and in the midst of the drama my sweet, well-behaved dog decided to choke on a piece of wood. I ran to his aid, which he interpreted as a direct attack, and he ran away from me.

Imagine this, a woman dressed in office attire (including heeled boots), chasing a dying dog through the grass, stumbling over chairs, rocks and a washing line, screaming, “it’s ok Albert I’m trying to help you” (In hindsight don’t think the screaming helped). Eventually I managed to corner him and was able to pull the piece of bark from his esophagus. He didn’t thank me, he didn’t even stay by my side while I caught my breath, in fact he wandered off and picked up another piece of wood, so the last laugh was on me. My only consolation was that at least I found the spare key and was able to drive off with some of my dignity intact while Albert thought about his actions.

That, ladies and Gentlemen, is how I started my Wednesday. Let me leave you with a bit of advice. Check the oven before you leave or it will result in a wild night, key mysteries and a dog who isn’t grateful to you for saving his life.

FOOTNOTE:

(Thursday afternoon) I just got back from the hospital. Mum was very down in the dumps and completely fed-up with being in hospital. She was in pain but her care-team has assessed her and have decreed that she is fit enough to be discharged (yay) but there’s no way she’s strong enough to look after herself during the day while Tish is at work so she’s asked me to stay another week. Quite naturally I’ve agreed to do so.

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4 Comments

  1. Lovely read and I can fully relate. My Mum is also hard of hearing in her nineties. It drives me crazy when, after about 5 attempts to get something across to her she still retorts ” Dont raise your voice to me .. Im NOT DEAF !! … Sigh.

    1. Haha, you’re bang on the money there Doug. One has to laugh because we’re all going to be there one day. My maternal grandfather used to switch his hearing aid off completely when he’d had enough of a particular conversation – it was so annoying. My most vivid memory of him doing that was one Saturday evening, watching TV and Demis Roussos came onto the screen, dressed in his kaftan and started singing FOREVER AND EVER. His voice was so unexpectedly sweet in contrast to his appearance and it was the type of song I knew my grandfather would have liked so I drew his attention to the screen. He said “I’m not going to listen to this modern wahh wahh wahh”, reached into his pocket, took out his hearing aid and switched it off then hunched his shoulders, sat on his chair in a grump with a scowl on his face. Grrrrr.

      Thanks for your comment; I’m glad you enjoyed the read

  2. Enjoyed the read, David. Sadly, we’re going towards that goal as well. No choice in the matter.
    Just need to be patient as we hope others will be with us, when we’re old.

    Always think of things like not switching the oven, or the plates on the stove or the iron off,
    when goind on a ROAD trip! The mind buzzes, but because of the time factor, you keep those thoughts to yourself.. You think back and decide, that yes, you had gone over everything and made sure everything electrical thing was switched off. However, that nagging feeling just surfaces every now and then. Then you forget and when you get back, all is well. Thank goodness!

    1. You’re quite right Nels – we have to be patient. I’m always mindful of those two characters in Charles Kingsley’s book – Mrs-Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By and her sister, Mrs Be-Done-By-As-You-Did. We always had that expression too – “the wheel is round”.

      I think everyone who reads Leanne’s story will be able to relate to it in some way, shape or form which, I suppose, makes it all the more charming. I could just picture her there in the middle of the night