pear tree log: I started this blog to keep my younger son, Jonny, in touch with life in Lincolnshire, while he spent a year working in China. That year turned into five! Now he is home and training to become a physics teacher. This is simply a patchwork quilt of some of the things I enjoy - life in rural Lincolnshire, our animals, friends, architecture, books, the gardens, and things of passing interest.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Tearing my Hair Out!

Thank you for all your kind comments on my previous post, I really appreciate them.   Many apologies for not having the time to reply to them.   Here's why...

On Friday afternoon I was telephoned by the 'Home Care Team', part of Social Services.    Apparently, they had assessed Aunt Lillian as being fit to be discharged from the rehabilitation unit of the Care Home.   They had held a meeting with my 91 year old aunt and it had been agreed that I would arrange for her to have carers call in three times a day.    

They had also agreed that she would need a 'Falls Bracelet and Alarm' - and had agreed that I could arrange this.

Oh, and by the way, in order for this to be fitted I would need to arrange to have a key safe fitted to the outside of the house...

By this point my blood pressure must have been dangerously high.    

Now hold on one cotton picking moment....  "How come I wasn't invited to this meeting?"

"Well, ducky, we asked your aunt whether she wanted you at the meeting and she told us that she didn't need you, legally, we had to comply with her wishes.... patient confidentiality, etc.... "

Steam is coming out of my ears as I type this.   I am so angry.   One dangerously incompetent old woman with memory problems, had to represent herself and had committed me to all of this...and that was ok, as long as her confidentiality was not compromised?

Social Services passing the buck.


So, the last few days have been spent organising a team of private carers to come in and look after her, having the special alarm fitted, George bought the key safe and fitted it.   We have cleaned her house and restocked the fridge and larder, arranged for her newspapers to be delivered again, and had extra keys cut.    

The aged aunt insisted that she was not any medication - and wasn't that marvellous for a 91 year old.... I queried that with the care home.   Amazingly, they didn't seem bound by the same need for patient confidentiality, and gave me a list of what she needs to take....a long list of medications.

Just as well that I thought to check, for it had also been agreed that I would contact the pharmacy which my aunt uses (like I would know) to have her pills put into blister packs so that the carers can just pop them out for her.

Beam me up, Scottie.

She returned to her little house yesterday would have been earlier in the day, if only I hadn't been inconsiderate enough to own a Land Rover...   for it had also been agreed that I  would take her home in my car...     I laughed.   Had they done a risk assessment on the danger posed by getting a fragile 91 year old to lift her leg up high enough to get into my truck - or were they suggesting that I lay her down in the back?

She got taken home by ambulance.   Naughty niece.

So, she is cosily tucked up in her own home.   Her shelves are fully stocked, the bed freshly made.   A large bunch of seedless grapes and the latest edition of her favourite magazine are to hand.   

Thanks, George.   I couldn't have done it without you. xx 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Aunt Lillian

My mother was a wonderful woman.   She was intelligent, witty, creative, and loving.    Whatever she did was done with natural elegance and grace.    For the sake of balance, I should say that she had auburn hair,  she had a short fuse on her temper, especially with her naughty children.   She died when she was in her mid-sixties, way too young.

Her side of the family is 'complicated', with several half-brothers,  some of whom may not really be even half-brothers... I still haven't worked it all out.    She did, however, have one older sister, Lillian.    Lillian's birth certificate shows that she had the same parents as my mother, if it is to be believed.     The age gap between Lillian and my mother was six and a half years, and they were like chalk and cheese.

Lillian didn't cook, do housework, or anything creative, although she definitely knew how to back a winning horse.   She liked a flutter.    On reflection, that isn't quite true.   She must have been  creative because I can remember being told that she iced cakes professionally, for a time - although not once in my 59 years have I seen any evidence of that skill.    

As I recall it, her idea of cooking was to wash a few lettuce leaves, tomatoes and half a cucumber - for gourmet meals she would add a few spring onions.    Amazingly, she could spend half a day cooking that particular meal.       Luckily, Uncle John was a wonderful cook, so they ate well.
Aunt Lillian and my lovely Uncle John,
many years ago.
Now, at ninety-one year of age,  Lillian is our only surviving relative of that generation.            For most of her life she was about 5'4" tall, today she has shrunk to about 4'4" and weighs about as much as a sack of thistledown.    

Three weeks ago she had a fall, and although she has memory problems, she knows that it was around midday when she fell because her favourite lunch-time programme was about to come on.   Her recollection is that she stumbled and was unable to get up from the floor.     Luckily, at  around 4pm the newspaper boy came along and spotted her on her living room floor.   He ran to the neighbours, who called the Emergency Services.

There was a problem;  Lillian had left her key in the locked door, so the First Responder was unable to get in.   He summoned the Police and the Fire Brigade... eventually they decided to take the pins out of the hinges, to gain admittance.     My aunt was insistent that all she needed was some help into her chair, she was fine...

Routine tests revealed that she had suffered a problem with her heart, so, despite her protestations, she was taken to A&E and then on to Coronary Care.    She remained in hospital for a little over two weeks.

For Lillian, it has been fun.   She has enjoyed all the company, people coming and going, the attention - and meals arriving on a tray, without her having to go to the bother of putting a Wiltshire Farm Foods meal into the microwave.  

A few days ago she was transferred to a Care Home; while she regains some strength and mobility before she returns to her home, for she is adamant that she doesn't want to go into permanent care.      She looks tinier than ever, but is being well looked after, and she seems quite happy.

Yesterday, when I visited, the sun was shining - for what felt like the first time since last summer.   I borrowed a wheelchair, tucked her in, and took her out for a breath of fresh, Spring air.     The grounds were full of snowdrops and daffodils, the air was almost mild and the sun shone.   After the over-heated air of the care home, it was refreshing and revitalising, for both of us.

Lillian enjoyed herself, although I noticed that she clutched tightly to the arms of the wheelchair, not quite trusting my wheeling skills.    I found that by pointing out a distant road and mentioning that it led on to somewhere she knew well, or at a distant church tower and talking about it and the village, she was kept happy and entertained, she relaxed.

In recent years Aunt Lillian has become something of a tyrant towards me - completely lacking in manners, never greeting me but simply listing things I got wrong, or issuing orders, occasionally poking me with her walking stick.   The last three weeks have seen her mellow, or perhaps the change has been in my behaviour.

I treat her as though she is a young child and remind her about her manners.  Our 'conversations' are very simple, her greatest pleasure is in hearing about my grandchildren, so I tell her what they have been up to - again, and again,  because she talks in very small loops, tiny circles.

She still issues orders, but at least I get a "please" out of her...especially when I prompt her with the sound 'p...p..'.       I haven't even attempted to get a "Thank You" out of her, I know my limitations.

Of course it helps now that she no longer has the use of the walking stick, she simply doesn't have the strength to whack me with her walking frame.