Trouble in Paradise

February 23, 2009 at 7:59 am (Uncategorized)

My sister has been providing me with daily updates on the Nana front as the respite at St Andrews unfolds. We both have things we need to do about Nana’s ongoing care, people to talk to, forms to complete, waiting lists to join, and I find I’m torn between wanting these reports and feeling really averse to them. Part of me wants to say ‘To be honest, I was hoping I’d get a break from all this while Nana’s up there,’ but I also understand there’s stuff to do, and we need our lines of communication as open and clear as possible in order to do them efficiently. Lady Alzheimer’s care hasn’t stopped just because Lady Alzheimer isn’t here. It’s still happening. Every day. So thanks, sister, for the updates – I do appreciate them even if I don’t always enjoy them! And I really appreciate your taking the reigns for the month. 

But one of the daily updates has stuck in my mind because it was the first mention of conflict in an otherwise rosy beginning to the month. There have been bus trips, sing-a-longs, hair appointments and wardrobe changes… wow, it sounds like she’s touring in a musical… Except it seems to be Annie Get Your Gun: Nana called one of the other residents ‘a real bitch.’ Uh oh. And now the woman in question has graduated to ‘bastard’ – never a compliment from one gal to another, no matter the age or mental condition. Them’s fightin’ words, and a fight is apparently what ensued. Or at least, the woman hit Nana. Yes, hit her. Slapped her in the chops, from what I can gather. I think it was a territorial thing. You’d probably feel quite protective of your patch too if it was all you could remember, and since Nana is in the dementia wing, we can safely assume the old bitch bastard is suffering a world of confusion all her own. One that took one look at Nana and computed unwanted interloper

When I told Llew, he said “I bet it’s that same one that came after me.”

“What? Who came after you?”

“When we were there, checking your nana in. The one that came into the room.”

“The one that was brandishing her stuffed toys at you?”

“Yes, her. That’s her. I bet it’s the same woman. She was not happy with me at all. She didn’t want me to be there.”

“So what did she do?”

“Oh nothing. Just kind of thrust the stuffed toys at me, saying something I couldn’t really understand. But she wasn’t happy.”

I remember this woman myself. I was forced to do my phone interviews for the two commissioned articles in an ante room off the dining room, and the lady with the stuffed toys, once she was done waving them at Llew, came wandering into the ante room to see just what I thought I was up to. She circled me a few times, considering her options and likely deciding just which toy to thwack me with as punishment for my insolence. My eyes followed her every movement. My big fear was that she would be motivated to lunge at me by something I said down the line, and that my interviewee would be interrupted by the sound of geriatric attack. This thought made me nervous. Very nervous. I would have liked to make significant eye contact with a nursing professional at that point, but they really do encourage independent movement in this place, it’s not just something they save for the brochure and government health inspections, and there was no one around. But then to my relief, she completely lost interest in me and wandered out again, and I felt bad for thinking she was going to unleash all hell. She was just a widdle owd wady.

But it seems the instinct was sound, because slapping my nana is not on. Nana must have been quite shaken up by it – can you imagine? It’s not quite Devonshire tea in front of the telly, is it? No, it’s all a bit Cell Block D, which is much harder to prepare for. It makes me worry about what it’s like for Nana overnight… can this woman move around unhindered while residents are asleep in their beds? I don’t know, but it’s a disturbing thought.



  1. couchtrip said,

    Eek, not a nice thought about the widdle old lady punching your nana in the chops. The world of dementia seems a pretty scary place but fortunately one with a short memory span. Apparently if you distract them and make them laugh, you’re cool for a couple of minutes. Just don’t accept their grimy peppermints. Ugh! I still get the shivers at the thought of accepting one from the old dodderer that I tested.

  2. Lilian Nattel said,

    I hope she sticks to waving her stuffies around.

  3. David said,

    It’s exactly like preschool, all over again. People can be very mean with stuffed toys. Don’t ask me how I know.

  4. doctordi said,

    The thought of that sweaty peppermint is really making me squirm, Pete! EW!!! I can just see the food colouring leaking out onto the palm of a crepey hand….horrors!!! But so sweet, too, because she (assuming it was a she, though I’ve no idea why) was only wanting to offer you something. And now I feel all blubbery about it.

    I want to ask, David. I do. But you’re right about the regressive element – although I don’t think they could be trusted with making potato prints… a potato to the temple would smart.

    So far, so forgotten, Lilian… at least, Kate said Nana seemed all right the next day. I’m hoping it’s vanished into a corner of her calcified mind.

  5. litlove said,

    I agree with David – it’s a kind of complete regression. Scary to watch in old people, I am quite sure, and disconcerting too. But most playground scrapes aren’t so very serious because everyone’s at the same level and understands what it means (apart from the sensitive child, but that’s a digression I won’t go into). That place could do with a bit more monitoring though – in school there’s someone around to regulate the fight, and it does sound like that might be useful. Oh and never forget – for two elderly ladies with not much going on in their lives, a bit of a fight might be considered interesting, not scary. It sounds as if, to move onto my maternal footing for a moment, they both started it.

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