memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

Sometimes I can’t bear it.

Today has been one of those days. On getting dressed this morning I was given the news that Sr. Manuel had died in the hospital yesterday (remember Sr. Manuel, he of the Alzheimer’s?) Ok, no big deal, a passing pang of sorrow and let’s move on, oh well that’s life etc. etc. … but suddenly I just can’t bear it.

I can’t bear the fact that I couldn’t even offer the basic courtesy of offering my son, who’d come to visit me for a couple of hours, a cup of tea. No visitors allowed in dining room during meals without special authorisation by the person in charge, I was told; so I wheeled down the corridor to get authorisation to have my tea bought to me on tray like the olden days. No can do, I was told, an inmate has to be ill to be served in that their rooms; all inmates must take their meals in the dining room.

(Does this remind you of anything?)

Vexed, I stayed with my son in my room and went tea-less; no big deal, we had a good chat, he’s a nice boy and it was a pleasure to see him.

But sometimes I just can’t bear it. I can’t bear passing whole days without speaking my own language! (Sorry folks for this rant, I’ll be fine tomorrow, but you see, this is my only line of communication. Suppose I should just pick up the phone or e-mail people but, you see, I get tired easily).

It’s no big deal


Comments on: "Sometimes I just can’t bear it" (1)

  1. Tom, so nice to see a picture of you. You are looking really well, though glum. The devil’s advocate in me asks you: what would it take for you to leave. To go home. Would it take a live-in assistant? A cook, a porter, a stairlift? A gaggle of nurses? How would you feel? Would you miss the Lar? Do you have a choice?

    I write this only with the perspective as you know, of having just lost my father, who, ironically, should have been in a home or sheltered accommodation, but refused to budge. Actually, he did agree on paper to move, and was on an interminably long waiting list. But who knows, had he not died first, whether he would have moved in the end. He had a history of agreeing to things, then unagreeing to things once faced with the actual.

    He was alcoholic, mildly incontinent, unwilling to feed himself proper meals, relied on a stick and later mobility scooter to get to the pub. When he could no longer get to the pub he stayed at home and drank. At the end, he refused to even let in the rapid response team who were visiting daily to feed him antibiotics. (Rapid response: keep people out of hospital and in their own homes, ha ha). So he died. He made a choice to stay at home, and he made a choice not to accept any help whatsoever. No to meals on wheels. No to domestic care. No to help with shopping, cleaning, personal care. Our visits to his flat would involve a short hello, then him, leaving for the pub, while we cleaned up the shit and crap and rubbish and filth and put the bottles in the recycling. Took the three week old rotten leftovers out the fridge. Whenever we tried to ‘persuade’ him (and go behind his back to ask the Experts, has he lost his mind yet, is he still compos mentis) he exercised his right to choose.

    Do you also have that right to choose?

    I have no idea what the Portugese care system is like or whether you are able to make these choices. Perhaps we make them in our heads, a long time before we can make any real change. Perhaps we don’t have a choice at all.
    Just askin’
    Not presumin’
    Your niece


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: