This was one life changing day…you can probably imagine it would be…
It was also an amazing day, because it was the first day of My Wonderful Month.
Amazing? Wonderful? But surely this must have been a hugely negative day…? No it was anything but…OK so yes there were painful early morning breathing issues, resulting in blue lights and a trip to A&E, but I was out six hours later and the tests have shown it was a minor blip in an otherwise extremely healthy journey. The amazing bit was of course that it was a great reminder to continue the quest to great health. If only we all had such an “episode” to remind us. Like I said life changing.
Then less than two weeks later this happened…in an extraordinarily short period of her life my Mum went from this to this…
Difficult as this may be to understand it was at this point when the wonder filled the entire month for real. Let me explain…
My Mum is a fighter…she had bounced, literally, back from a fall, an ambulance ride to A&E and a couple of weeks of “feet up Mrs P” two months ago. The way the serious gash had healed it was obvious her body was far from giving up.
Then Christmas Day came – foolishly we gave in to her wanting to make a contribution to the day and we all went over for the traditional Brunch. It ended in her fainting before us, seemingly having something like a massive stroke as she went into a spasm and was disappearing before our eyes. Four paramedics in the house for an hour, a revived Mum, a very relieved family, the remainder of the day resting…no hospitalisation needed.
The writing was on the wall. No the writing had been on the wall for some time…it was now in bold capitals, underlined, brightly highlighted in pink and the Vegas style neon was about to start flashing.
Then that wall all but tumbled in.
Three weeks ago. Just three short weeks ago. Everything changed in our lives. I became my Mum’s primary carer.
In reality I thought I had been caring for my Mum for nearly a decade. The shopping, the logs and among many other things the hospital visits. How wrong could I have been.
There are certain, very obvious, boundaries that have to be crossed before you can entertain using the word carer. There are the darkest of thoughts in the deepest part of the night that truly bring it home to you. There is the moment when you realise that the person who gave you life has put her life in your hands – then you know what it means to be the true epitome of carer.
Things flip around so far. Morrie tells it best in one of my absolutely favourite books, Tuesday’s with Morrie, where he simply had to make a choice and accept it and enjoy the care and the loving human touch as if once again a baby.
That’s the cared for…what about the carer?
You look the same. You act pretty similarly most of the time…apart from dissolving into tears on a very regular, at least daily, basis…and at things that rarely make too much sense.
But you are not the same. You live scared. You sleep awake. Even when your lovely family relieve you for a day or a night you are always partially back in the room.
You enter what I have come to realise is “The Carer’s Coma”.
In your day you do little things that seem very little. But as little as each one may be they are constant like the little babble of the bigger, eternally flowing brook. You see when a five minute task drifts to another that is a ten minute task, which then leads to a four minute task and then another one that is this time a ten minute task, suddenly you turn around and three hours have somehow disappeared. Then the bell rings again and the lunch you just put on the tray for her is going to have to wait, because the very thing that is the boundary that has to be crossed has to be performed once again. If you’re lucky you remembered to put the food in the over to keep it warm – but chances that you did are slim.
That bloody bell!
It took me a while to get it, to realise that this really is the carer’s coma and that somehow your mind freezes off the other stuff. The concept of having a “to do” list has gone. Any idea of getting through messages, picking up the phone, getting to a bank, even the staple diet of those of us that run our own alternative ventures a trip to a coffee shop…all fall by the way side. Not on purpose. No one is left hanging because you want to leave anyone hanging. It’s just that the tasks that lead to three hours that went by, lead to another three hours and another. Then somehow you blink and you come to and you are lying awake at 3am. Another day has finished or started – you are not quite certain which. But surely you are exhausted so catch your sleep, right? So you would have thought. So I would have thought. But when do you think you hear the bell? Obviously when it rings. Of course that too, but you hear it most when you are half asleep and when you are eventually very asleep…when of course it hasn’t rung at all.
This is wonderful? This does not sound too wonderful.
Oh this is wonderful. This is your Mum. This is the person that as Mark Twain put it gave you one of the two most important days of your life…and so much more besides. This is the little lady that trusts you to do everything for her in the way that she did for you. This is the little lady that looks up at you and locks your eyes as you lift her for the third time that night and says: “How are you so patient with me in the middle of the night?”
This is wonderful.
This is My Wonderful Month.
Christopher James Pomfret firstname.lastname@example.org
After thoughts: you can imagine my respect for carers everywhere has reached new heights; please share this with someone else you may know going through this for the first time – or the millionth – as connections and support are always good; please comment as you see fit; I am sure it is obvious why I would blog and even vlog about this…therapy in the waking hours and so please look out for the next part…thank you.