I know, I know, I’m a dirty rotten blogger who shirked her responsibilities yesterday, but I think you’ll forgive me when I tell you about my day. First up, more Nana stuff. We’re still waiting for the cavalry to arrive – love those public healthcare waiting lists – but in the meantime, there was another assessment yesterday by Helen from the Botany Respite Centre. They pick up busloads of oldies from around the area and take them off to the centre for lunch and a bit of socialising, sometimes even bringing in entertainers to liven things up a little. After a hot lunch, they’re driven home again and seen to their door. All this for the bargain price of twenty bucks a visit. Outstanding value, if you ask me. And important for Nana, I think, because as she started to slide, she started withdrawing from the company of her peers, and now I don’t think she hangs out with anyone in her complex at all. It’s apparently all part of the onset of dementia/Alzheimer’s, perfectly standard behaviour, but no more comforting or enjoyable for that, I may assure you. So I think a regular outing with people her own age – many of whom are also suffering from dementia, according to Helen, who did the assessment yesterday – is an excellent idea. Nana didn’t care for the sound of it over the phone, but she was much more receptive once Helen was there giving her the pitch in person. She’s signed up to start going every Monday – another lady from her complex goes thrice weekly, so it can’t be too bad! – but let’s just keep our fingers crossed and see how it goes. Nana gets very peculiar about committing to things now. Even after agreeing, and choosing a day, and seeming to understand it would be happening on Monday, when Helen tried to talk to her about pick-up times, she said “Oh, I can’t really get into that” – things to do, you see. Busy, busy. When I first broached the idea with her, she said she wasn’t interested because she’s “got too many other things on her plate.” “Oh,” I said, rather surprised to find her dance card so full, “like what?” “Oh things, things, too many things.” Yes. Like compulsively buying books. “What are you reading at the moment, Nana?” “I’m not reading anything at the moment.” No, you see, I didn’t think so. And her busy schedule is a similar trick of the light. Or the mind, as the case may be (and is).
Going to the bank with her yesterday to make sure she had some cash in her wallet was excruciating. She wanted to give her expired bus ticket to the teller. Apparently she could get a new one from the Commonwealth Bank. Yep. “Why would they have bus tickets at the bank, Nana?” Pause. “I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t think they do,” I said. She looked away from me, thoroughly miffed. Not that she needed one, oh no, because this one in her hand (and then back in her bag, and then out of the bag and back in her hand, and then back in the bag, and then out of the bag and back in her hand) was still good. She pointed to some random branding on it and said, “See,” like it was all there, all the proof she needed. I turned it over and pointed at the date. “It says October 31, Nana. See this? That’s the date. October 31. That was two weeks ago. This ticket’s expired. Give it to me and I’ll throw it out for you.” She wouldn’t. Would. Not. Not on her life was she relinquishing the useless bit of magnetic striped paper. We had a ticket tug-o-war right there in the bank queue. Stubborn old girl. And strong. I let go in the end. “Fine,” I thought. “You keep your expired ticket, then. See if I care. See how far it gets you. Go on.”
Then we went to the chemist, where Nana’s supposed to go every day to take her meds because she can’t be trusted to take them on her own at home. They hadn’t seen her since last Friday. “I’m supposed to come in here every day?” she said. “Oh no, I don’t think so.” The chemist, his assistant and I all looked at each other. “We’ve called her every day to remind her,” the chemist said. “Richard called you this morning, Nana.” “No he didn’t.” “Yes, I think he did. He’s been calling every day.” “He must have left a message. I must have been out.” “No, Nana. He spoke to you.” As I said to them, I don’t know what to do. I just don’t know what to do. I am unwilling and unable to make caring for Nana my full-time role. Help is slow to arrive and she is not managing on her own. I just don’t know what to do.
Anyway, whilst she was having a circulation booster at the chemist, I went and bought our lunch and some groceries for her to take home. And after putting Nana on her bus home, I went in the exact opposite direction to my meeting with the writer Charlotte Wood, who so, so kindly agreed to meet up and give me some plot pointers. She’s wonderful, so generous with her time and ideas, and can we all please go and buy one of her books? Her latest is The Children. I’d love to tell you all about the meeting, because I had a lightbulb moment about my MS structure, but I fear I’ve already kept you too long for one day… tomorrow, perhaps.