S-h-h-h… It’s a Library…

August 20, 2009 at 7:58 am (Uncategorized)

Team, DoctorDi has relocated for the day, and this post finds me in the Dixson Library, the grand old wing of the State Library. I’m a fan. It’s very old school in here, just the way a public library ought to be. Modern libraries make me deeply uneasy. But the Dixson is a good old girl, and she’s a dandy place to work while I’m out and about. I filed another story this morning, making it a record week. Let the good times roll! It does mean I’ve not done several pressing things, the entire week having been devoured by interviews, transcribing (which really is the pits), and writing.

The first pressing thing is calling Nana. You have no doubt noticed the absence of Nana posts in recent times, and the explanation is simple if not remotely flattering: I’ve been wholesale neglecting her. I haven’t called in ages. I feel awful, gouging guilt about this, but everyone has their limits, and I found I reached mine a little while ago. I’ve been selfish recently, really selfish, because I have just felt a genuine need to take a step back and regroup. Hot on the heels of packing up Nana’s flat – quite literally the following week after that month of living hell – I saw Dr F, and then along came the laparoscopy. Several days after that day surgery, I received Volunteer Reader’s crushing dossier detailing my MS’s many failings (which, don’t get me wrong, I was and am eternally grateful to receive), and after I had sufficiently recovered from that, and the holes in my abdomen, Chez J entered a very fraught phase. Now we’re through that, wounds licked and scars fading, it was into IVF this morning to start that process – no picnic – and all the while I’ve been trying to fix that damned albatross even though it may very well have a fanatical wish to die. So… you know. It really has been a bit of a juggle, and Nana, now far away and receiving excellent care and the weekly visits of my sister and her kids, has not been on my radar. I’ve allowed her to slip off. And don’t think I haven’t thought of calling. I have. Many, many times. But when I am in these selfish moods, I recoil from the phone like it’s bitten me in the past and made me bleed. I justify it to myself in all sorts of transparently weak ways, and the guilt gnaws at me, but I cover my ears and la-la-la my way into the next day, when it all begins again. Bad person. Selfish person. Bad person. Selfish person. Does this inner voice actually change my behaviour? No. I just hiss shut up, dumb voice to myself, and then run in the other direction. Mentally, at least. I can’t escape myself, can’t evade that nagging voice that pipes up on the hour every hour like a cuckoo clock. Speaking of cuckoo…

So tomorrow (not today, because phones have to be switched off in the Dixson Library, plus it’s Nana’s bedtime), I am calling my nana. She, of course, won’t have any sense of how long it’s been since we’ve spoken, because it’s this end of her memory that’s as reliable as cream in a can. She won’t know I’ve been so bad. In all likelihood, I’ll get away with it, which actually makes me feel even worse. Kate’s been giving me very regular updates, so I am across Nana’s current status, and at the end of the day, she’s as happy as Larry. That whole three-second memory zone turns out to be a very pleasant place to be. But it doesn’t change the fact that I know I haven’t called. I’ve enjoyed my break, I won’t lie. Alzheimer’s is intense. It’s a cinch for Nana, but it’s a grim road for carers, and I have been glad of a breather. But though Nana doesn’t know better one way or the other, it’s time to give her a call.

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8 Comments

  1. Grad said,

    I know how you feel, only in my situation Shorty isn’t all that forgetful yet. I’ve promised to take her fishing every weekend for awhile now, but then Saturday morning comes, and I see things I need to accomplish around the house. The weekend is when I catch up with the house – things I’ve let slide because I’m too exhausted in the evening to work on projects (although I am so proud of my kitchen after all that hard work, I do take some time every day to make sure all is exactly right). I’m vowing this weekend will be different, and if it isn’t, I’ll go to bed on Sunday night with terrible regret (like waking up with a hangover.) I ran into Shorty at the grocery store yesterday. She was in the wine aisle! I guess that’s a good sign.

  2. doctordi said,

    Graddikins, I have an extremely cute image of the two of you sitting side by side in a companionable silence, dangling your rods, swinging your legs…

    I feel a bit better about my slackness knowing I’m not the only one who puts off these things… but let’s NOT go to bed with terrible regret, not this time!

    Shorty in the wine aisle? Atta girl!

  3. davidrochester said,

    I’m glad you got a break — you really, really needed and deserved one. I gotta say, I’d curl up and die of stress if I had your life … you have my heartfelt admiration.

  4. doctordi said,

    Thanks so much, David, although I must admit, I’m surprised my life sounds fatally stressful to you – mostly I think I have a very sweet deal!

    Called Nana. No answer in her room, but that’s a good thing, that means she’s out and about and hopefully doing something fun. I’ll keep trying.

  5. litlove said,

    Much better to call her when you want to, and you’re pleased to talk to her, than to slog through a conversation out of duty. She needs careful handling (goodness only knows I know you know this!) and if you’re out of sorts and fatigued from dealing with her (and it IS exhausting) then that will manifest itself in the call and oh it will be complications and difficulties and misunderstandings. You know she’s safe and well cared for. She’ll be absolutely fine and delighted to hear from you when you have the time and space to call, and you HAVE had a lot of stuff going on lately. You’re too hard on yourself here – got to look after yourself to look after other people with any degree of efficiency. Hugs!!

  6. doctordi said,

    Thanks, Litlove. It’s tricky, tricky times.

  7. Pete said,

    I can relate to that inner voice and have found that telling it to shut up really doesn’t work. Before I dispense any more cheap wisdom, will be across to read about your latest Nana conversation.

  8. doctordi said,

    It doesn’t work for me either, Pete. The voice, it knows things.

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