Tony and I’ve never made a secret of his deteriorating health, or that the decision to go into resthome care was made by the medical system. We knew the time was coming, but the choice was taken from us – which was a good thing.
In the six weeks he’s been in the home Tony has (mainly) been quite well, although he isn’t doing so well just now. A few people have made comments about how well he looks and questioned whether he needs to be there. Not helpful, even if well-intentioned.
Yesterday Sandra visited an old friend of Mum’s who was sensible enough to ask “is Tony seriously sick?” and expect an honest answer. Sandra simply said yes. Mum’s friend said “thought so”.
From the way the conversation went, I gather some people in town are discussing why Tony is in the rest home. It’s simple; he’s there because he needs to be. Yes, he’s that sick. If people want to know more, ask. We’re happy to provide the truth rather than have people make up their own version.
Marlow drifts in and out of Tony’s room constantly, because he has a ranch slider, but she’s not overly affectionate. I bought a bag of fancy cat treats and suggested giving her one or two at a time. She’s taken to napping on the mohair rug on his lazyboy and today she curled up on his knee for a bit. Success!
My flight from Christchurch got into Palmerston North just before 8pm last night and I was home by 10pm. Alan and I had stopped for a pie for lunch at Arthur’s Pass on the way over from Hokitika, and then afternoon tea at the airport so I didn’t need to stop for dinner.
The house was warm (thanks Janet) but quiet and empty…my new normal. Goldie was delighted to see me and yelled at me for a bit before getting up on the bed beside me and dribbling a lot. I think, at 16, she’s got a bad tooth or two!
I popped in to see Tony quickly on my way to work – sometimes I won’t do normally – then spent almost 2 hours with him after work. We’ve ordered a shelf for his room to put bits and pieces on, and a new paint by numbers. At the rate he is painting them, we’ll going to end up papering his room with them 😉 We’ve ordered a duvet set to make his room look more like him – pale grey/blue satin isn’t really his thing.
I’ve come home and unpacked, done the washing & put it on the airframe in the lounge seeing I never go in there, cooked dinner, cleared the mail and then sat here thinking “ok, now what?”. Normally I’d be looking after Tony or, if he was particularly well, chatting with him. I don’t want to start the paper tonight and it feels too late to start some art.
Tony & I will settle into a new normal but who knows what it will look like. When we fell in love 30 years ago I didn’t imagine myself, at 56, visiting my husband in a rest home. We always said one day the 18 year age gap would bite, but somehow the reality is different.
He’s made friends with the resthome cat, and it pops in and out of his room regularly. He was tearful when I left tonight but, given it was my first day back after he went in 11 or so days ago, I think that was understandable. Overall, he’s looking much better than he did a few weeks back. With the anxiety of being home alone gone, he looks less frail, although he had another fall t the weekend. I’m sure some people are going to think he doesn’t need to be in a home but they are so, so wrong. Anyway, today was a small step towards a new normal. One step at a time…
As many of you know, Tony has Power of Attorney for his cousin Alison, who has dementia. In less than two years we have moved her from her home to a serviced apartment, then from the apartment to a rest home room. On Tuesday she is moving to the secure unit because her wandering is at the dangerous stage.
I had PoA for Aunt J and her journey was similar. The secure unit she was in was scruffy, but the staff were fantastic. Both Tony and I were apprehensive about moving Alison because she is used to having nice things, in nice surroundings. We were both pleasantly surprised by how stylish the secure unit at Jane Winstone is. To be honest, I doubt Alison will even notice the difference the change. They have activity people on deck for around 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, which will help keep her occupied too.
Once the staff have shifted her on Tuesday we’ll need to clean out her room because she won’t need much in the way of ornaments etc, as they mean nothing to her now really, and get rid of her furniture. We’ll leave a couple of sets of clothing and bring the rest home – I’ll go through it all and see what she’s got before doing a major shop. I know, from Aunt J’s time, that she needs easy wear easy care, so it’ll be tracksuits etc.
It feels sad she is deteriorating so quickly, but of course she is unaware. As the staff member we spent time with today said, “Alison is happy and will make new friends quickly”.