Suddenly we’re into the next phase — the ‘can’t be left alone’ phase.
Dear Husband’s leg pain is peripheral neuropathy after all; a doctor explained that the other Latin term which I can’t get my brain around is actually part of peripheral neuropathy. Between that and the worsening arthritis in his lower back, he’s been in agony. These past two weeks he could hardly get about without help, and even then only slowly and awkwardly. His urine test came back clear, so we can’t blame infection.
Having exhausted other possibilities, the doctor suggested capsicum cream, which can be bought over the counter at the pharmacy. It has a burning sensation on the skin, and that seems to trick the nerves into thinking that they are not hurting. It’s working, too! Panadol Osteo and a hot water bottle help with the back.
Meanwhile, I’ve not been able to go to writers’ group for the last two weeks, because he’s been in too much discomfort to go, and I couldn’t leave him here helpless on his own. Home Care, which offers respite as well as domestic help, didn’t have the hours available to meet our needs; friends willing in principle to help were otherwise occupied. But I’m the facilitator of the writers’ group, so the Manager of the Neighbourhood Centre (where it’s held) suggested some organisations I could phone to try and get respite care.
Those who have been following this sorry saga for some time will know that this has been suggested before by concerned people. The reality has been exceedingly frustrating. A number of times, trying to get aged care assessment, I’ve been fobbed off to other phone numbers including the dementia line and a geriatric specialist. It’s all dragged on for months.
This time I rang Community Options at the shire council, and explained my current need: someone to sit with DH on Friday afternoons during school terms. They asked a few pertinent questions and remarked how stressed I sounded. (And here I thought I was sounding calm and businesslike — but have certainly felt very stressed.) She said we were eligible for help, and gave me an emergency phone number just in case. There was to be a meeting today (Friday), she will contact me Monday and talk to DH also to make sure it’s what he wants, then we’ll be assigned a Case Manager who will come and see us and find out exactly what we need.
At last, at last!
And NOW, with all that in place, we finally get the phone call from the geriatric specialist to make an appointment ... late in September. Ah well, it’s no doubt worth doing. And, exceptional among specialists, he bulk bills! I won’t have to save like crazy or borrow from the kids.
The fog still shifts and wavers. His blood sugar is fairly stable and/or quickly corrected now that he’s on insulin, so it must be due to ageing.
He needs to double and triple check things, or sometimes asks as if for the first time. Obviously, in his experience, it is.
Or he’ll be in fantasy.
‘When are the kids coming?’ he asks suddenly, anxiously.
‘What kids?’ I say.
‘You know; our kids‘ — and names his older son, his daughter, and older son’s three little girls.
‘They’re not coming,’ I say. ‘There’s no arrangement for them to come.’
He looks sheepish and says, ‘I wonder where I got that from?’
‘I don’t know. There’s been no mention of them visiting.’
He looks at me in outrage.
‘You’ve been talking about it for weeks!’