I had a holiday. The DH bought me a ticket to Vietnam for my 60th and off I went to stay with friends who were out there.
I had a wonderful time although I suspected things were not going well at home when there was so little contact. In a way, I appreciated it because knowing there were problems would have made me anxious, especially as there was nothing I could have done about anything. On the other hand, we want to know, don’t we?
When I came home, the DH collected me from the station. The Goldfish was in the car. He didn’t speak to me, just stared out of the window. We arrived home and the DH said I should go in and he’d help the Goldfish out of the car. Only when we were inside did I realise what changes there had been in two weeks.
He had been admitted to hospital with urinary tract infection. The infection had cleared up but the person who had come home was little more than a human shell. I was totally dazed for the first few days back trying to make sense of the changes.
The Goldfish was no longer able to walk. He couldn’t move from his chair. He barely spoke. He needed to be helped to eat and helped to drink. The house is full of machinery – like the hoist and stand-aid.
Of course, I blamed myself for going away but fortunately did not say so as this could only be taken as a criticism of the care – or lack of it – DH and Wee-sis had taken of the Goldfish in my absence. I knew it would have happened even if I had been here.
I kept quiet. I learned how to use the ‘stand-aid’ to transfer the Goldfish from his chair to his wheelchair, from his wheelchair to his bed, from his bed to the shower chair… I bought dishes whose bases could be filled with hot water so the food stayed warm during the long, long time it took the Goldfish to eat his meals. He did still enjoy his food. Sometimes helping him to eat made me think of a mother bird feeding a chick – his wide open mouth waiting for the next spoonful.
I didn’t cry, not then. I suppose in the moment there was no time for such self-indulgence, too much to do – but now the tears come. And they don’t help.