Jman loves a rant. That is, our family is full of passionate articulate women, who when they get riled up like to shoot off at the mouth to blow off steam, and he loves it. he always has. He watches us, transfixed, his little eye following from one side of the conversation to the other. Loves. A. Rant.
He’s had (and is going to get) plenty of love-a-rant opportunities this week.
See, we’re staying a my mum’s at the moment. After she fell and broke her wrist. Then, while we were in quarantine with hand foot & mouth (ugh), she fell and broke her hip. She’s 83. She’s a good 83. Mostly sane (or had the same flavour insanity since I was 5 at least), does weights once a week tai chi once a week, opera once a fortnight and lunches. A lot. Drives. Shops. Cooks. Like I said, a good 83.
Now mum is not an easy person to spend extended periods of time with. No adult, i maintain, is designed to live with their mother full time. She’s a hopeless housekeeper, and would feature on episodes of worlds greatest hoarders were it not for constant intervention by her daughters. She takes too many pills, and it is a constant bone of contention between us. She has a number of medical issues (bad psoriatic arthritis. Myleodisplaysia. Stomach issues- related to the pill popping, much? – needs to pee all the time, pancreatic issues with a stone. She’s recovered, yes recovered, from Hepatitis C from a blood transfusion). Mum, whilst lovely, is a terrible communicator. She just doesn’t get it. she thinks conversations are about waiting for her turn to talk. Full stop.
So there’s lots of drugs. And lots of doctors. And lots of interactions.
In the recent hospital stint, the public hospital system here in Australia has really failed her. See, here, if you’re a private patient (read: insured), the doctors seem to see you, see $$$ signs, then arrange for your transfer to a private hospital, usually one in which your doctor is a shareholder. Which is fine, sometimes. In the public hospital, mum was admitted to a facility that had a brilliant state of the art gym. That no one touched. For days. It was always empty. The ward also had a bad gastro outbreak; so much so that for days afterwards the jman, when asked to clap hands, would motion like he was using hand sanitiser instead. I did it that often.
So we weren’t sad to see the back of it.
The trouble was, the rehab hospital only looked at rehab. They did not treat mum holistically, as a person with a number of interacting medical problems. They only treated the hip.
Since her discharge on Tuesday, I think she’s kept down three meals. In the rehab hospital, they had expensive anti nausea drugs to combat her ongoing issues with eating due to a useless pancreas. At home, nothing.
So Thursday, when she couldn’t keep down a cup of tea, I started dialling. The hospital? No dice. The local doctor?
You know those days as a parent when everything goes wrong? Thursday.
After arranging a 3:15 appointment with her local doctor, I pushed the pram around to ensure an early nap.
35 minutes later, the jman is up again.
He steals all of mums grapes as well as his own at lunch.
We arrive at the doctor, and they are running at least 35 minutes late.
Outside, it is 39 degrees Celsius, the hottest October day on record.
Mum leaves her mobile at home.
So I ask the receptionist to call me when she’s next in line, and set up the pram for a walk.
They don’t call.
I arrive back after we share a cool drink in air conditioning, to find mums already in with the doctor,
The jman has not slept.
As the receptionist opens the door, his ass explodes. Poonami. I can feel moisture seeping into my hand and through my shirt. I do not know what it is.
Then they shut the door. He loses his shit. Literally and figuratively. The jman hates closed doors.
So I’m trying to have a conversation with the doctor. Jman is screaming. Like, really screaming. Like purple in the face veins standing up screaming. I get snatches of conversation in. I pull out every trick in my mums book….toys. Books. Boob. Jiggling. Patting. Water. More boob.
Mum is interjecting. Mostly with completely irrelevant long winded tails about conversations with hospital staff. Not on message. She is jumping from issue to issue.
Jman is screaming.
I leave the treatment room and jiggle. Nothing. I strap him in the pram and try to soothe him. Nothing. I go back in and try to talk over him. No hope.
Finally we get a snatched two minute conversation over a toy playing lullabies in another room, after I finally give in and go and find somewhere to change him. He has no spare pants.
He then ramps up again, inconsolable.
In the car, he turns purple with the screaming. It eases Only once we are home with a big drink of water, many minutes, and finally, an episode of Peppa Pig. I have only a vague idea of the doctor’s advice and next steps. Mum is again throwing up. Jman is again screaming.
This is going very well indeed. Welcome to shittsville, I will be your tour guide today.
I think that’s one of the hardest things being a parent, those times when you just need to put your baby’s needs on the backburner and focus on something else incredibly urgent, important and demanding.
And you can’t.
Because there is grape shit dripping down your shirt.
And it’s 39 degrees.
And he hasn’t slept.
And he doesn’t care if your mother might be dying.
And he doesn’t care if you’ve had enough.
Or If you just need him to be quiet and cooperate for ten minutes.
Yep. That’s my week. And it continues.
We’ve finally made it home, after a change of shift with my sister. I have made six phone calls to get more community assistance today (none was offered during hospital discharge). No dice. The formal complaint to the public hospital is being drafted. And at this stage I think our best hope is that she is readmitted and comprehensively assessed. With all of the doctors actually talking to each other.
Mum enjoyed having jman around for four days. Jman enjoyed seeing her so much that his first word after every nap was “Ammma” (jman for grandma). He helped rearrange her cutlery. He helped with her new walking frame. So it wasn’t all bad.
Hub-in-boots did a great job reading the situation, and walked in the door each day to whisk jman off my hands for a walk and a reboot, a feed and a bath. The unspoken tag team, when we both just keep shuffling priorities to keep all the balls in the air. It’s good when it works like that.
But mum is hard to help. She’s cranky at the moment, she’s very particular about how she wants things done, she can’t prioritise different issues and focus on one at a time, and she’s as reckless as jman, throwing herself around the house without always taking the walking frame.
In the meantime we schlep across Sydney, and hope that Thursday was the last of the perfect storms. No more grapes. No more walks in 39 degrees. No more poonamis. I wish I could say no more doctors, but I fear this is just beginning.
afterword: today, after a couple of days at home, mum is doing a bit better. We’ve had a couple of days keeping down our sparrow sized meals. So things are looking up. A bit. She’s brighter, friendlier, more able. My shift resumes on Wednesday, with another trip to the doctors. Cross your fingers for no 39 degrees, no grape eating and no Poonami. Jman IS on a continuing nap strike, which I’m putting down to teeth, what with the dribbling, red cheeks, and red bum….and possibly some of the disruption to our somewhat loose “routine”, so he’s hard work. I’m very very tired. But a three hour nap Saturday arvo (both of us) went part of the way to fixing that.