My Dad’s a Goldfish – first wheelchair outings

Despite the Goldfish losing so much weight we continue with our regular outings to give the step-monster her respite days.

A friend lent me her late father’s wheelchair while we wait for the one social services say they will provide. I take the Goldfish down to Threave Castle just outside our town to see the Ospreys, which are nesting there.

The gates along the path are a bit of a nuisance but we eventually work out an effective method. I stop the chair, open the gate away from us, the Goldfish pushes it further open with his walking stick then as he removes his stick I rush through before the gate closes.

From time to time the Goldfish offers to get out to give me a rest! I assure him it’s no bother – though it is much harder work than I anticipated. The path is supposedly ‘accessible’ but I don’t think many wheelchair users make use of it.

Threave Castle

Threave Castle – pic by Wee-sis

As we round a bend and the castle comes into view, it’s worth the effort as the Goldfish is delighted, saying he’s never been so close to it before. I vaguely wonder if I could get him into the wee boat which ferries people across but dismiss the idea as daft. We move on to the Osprey viewing platform where volunteers have set up a telescope trained on the nest across the river. We are very proud to have ospreys nesting here and Wee-sis and I are regular visitors in the evening, as are lots of local people so it is quite a social outing. At first the Goldfish can’t see anything but once the telescope has been adjusted I hear him exclaim and know he has seen the bird on its nest. He looks round at me, beaming with pleasure.

We return to the car park – it is harder work going back as there is more uphill work but we manage. Great workout for my arm muscles! A large banner advertising the Ospreys is hanging outside the visitor centre. The Goldfish reads it out aloud then says: “Ospreys, my, they would be something to see.”

For our second wheelchair outing I took the Goldfish out for lunch and then to Kippford, an attractive little village on the Solway coast popular with tourists and yachtsmen. This time we had his new social services wheelchair, which came very quickly. I have to say our local social services have been great, especially the CC – we struck lucky when she was on duty the day the referral for the Goldfish came through.

I parked the car, heaved the chair out of the boot, attached foot-rests. I then re-attached foot-rests correctly – have never learned left from right. I extricated the Goldfish from the car and into the chair then discovered the seatbelt was under the cushion. Tried again and this time was successful in strapping him into the chair.

I pushed the chair across the road to the pavement side but I couldn’t get the chair up the kerb onto the pavement. An elderly couple walking past came to my rescue. I thought the man, who looked older and more physically frail than the Goldfish, would have a heart attack. I thanked them profusely and set off.

It was a nightmare. The pavement was not flat but had a steep slope on one side so I was constantly fighting the chair’s inclination to veer towards the road. At least it was fairly warm and dry and the Goldfish could admire the boats in the harbour and comment on the fact they would ‘cost a few pounds’. A few thousand, more like. At the top of the village we had a much needed ice cream before returning to the car. This time, I stayed on the road as much as possible so I didn’t have the constant strain on my arms and back. I should soon be super fit, pushing the Goldfish in his chair.

 

 

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10 thoughts on “My Dad’s a Goldfish – first wheelchair outings

    • Hi Nancy, thanks for dropping by. You are right, the pleasure dad gets far outweighs the struggle to achieve the outing. And even if he forgets almost immediately the feeling of well-being seems to stay for a while.

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    • Thanks, Carolyn. The comments and interaction from others have been great. It’s reassuring to know I’m not alone with this situaiton – there are plenty of others. I’m glad you are enjoying it.

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  1. Isn’t it great that the well being feeling seems to stay with him even if he forgets almost immediately where he got it from. Mind you, I’m sure it not only comes from the osprey and yachts but the feeling of you taking the time and spending time with him. More precious than anything I’d say. All through the Blog posts there’s an uneasy feeling that comes up for me about what the ‘step-monster’ thinks of being called the ‘step-monster’ — you know—the sort of ethical questions. It makes me ponder—although I like to think that any partner of mine, I would care for and love with unfailing devotion no matter how demented they became – could I actually do it? I like to think so, but life must change so much and the person you once knew must slowly disappear before your eyes and a new one emerge. And no doubt there isn’t enough help from Services to make the adjustment. It poses real ethical and moral questions I think, and certainly keeps us thinking, which is all to the good. As usual, thought provoking!

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    • Thanks for commenting, Janette. What would the step-monster think about being called that? She would think it very unkind of me. I didn’t always think of her in those terms and we had, I thought, a pretty good relationship for a long time. That changed when dad began to turn into a Goldfish (he laughs when I say he’s like a goldfish). There was the denial, which is fairly common, but usually relatives come round to an acceptance. She never did. Well, she would admit he had dementia but would refuse to engage with anything which might help to slow down its progress or to spend meaningful time with him. Social Services have been great with us and were offering support from the start, all of which the step-monster refused. It was a battle to even let someone in to help with the shower – she would prefer to ignore how bad he smelt rather than have her life disrupted.
      I know if is difficult to see one’s partner change in such a drastic way – it’s not easy to see one’s father disappear, either.
      None of us know how we would react to this kind of situation until it happens. It is unimaginable until it happens.
      Thanks again for your comments – keep them coming.

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    • Yes, indeed, the pavements round here are terrible for wheelchair users. I think it would be useful for every member of the roads department to take turns pushing and being pushed in a wheelchair around the town. It can’t be fun pushing a pram or pushcahir, either.

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    • It’s great when it lasts long past the event, which has been fogotten. Dad was very knowledgable about birds and would have been really excited about the ospreys had they arrived before he lost his memory and I’m sure taking him to see them would have connected with something in his brain to elicit his response.

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