Day in the Life of a Carer

While I washed my hair, HMRC rang back. Fortunately, they agreed to ring me fifteen minutes later. They have resolved the problem and offered GBP30 for my time and phone costs.

Rang my GP because the pain in my shoulder isn’t going away and now I’ve pulled a muscle in my side. Also,  dandruff is back so I asked for treatment for that.

Found the number to ring for Dad’s telecare (fall button) service and asked them to take my name off the responders list. And T’s. We agreed that Dad will pay a small sum to hire a responder team rather than summon the ambulance.

Went out 2ish to buy bread (T had let us run out – he only looks after four items and we regularly run out of those) and cheese. Went to bank to withdraw money from Dad’s account and picked up my prescriptions from surgery. Popped them into hospital pharmacy, next door, sat down – and John Lewis rang to say they’d be delivering fridge within 30 minutes.

Of course, the pharmacy took 15 minutes instead of the usual 10. My surgery found the missing prescription but it was too late for me to go back to the pharmacy. Stuffed it in my pocket and went to Dad’s to remove everything from the fridge. Saw note from care assistant that there was no hot water or heating, which was not true. Turned the heating up.

Dad feeling dizzy and breathless. Forgot AGAIN that bed is hydraulic and switch is on bed – he can raise it up to help breathing. He’s had the bed for 5 years and never once used the hydraulic. When he complains of difficulty standing up, I tell him the whole bed raises at the touch of the switch and he either looks at me blankly or else is distressed to keep forgetting.

His zimmer frame was next to his chair . It’s not even meant to be in the same room. Dad, unsurprisingly, has been using it. Had to tell him not to, unless he never wants to heal. All he says in response to such things is: “I must get better!” It means I have to keep asking him whether he understands what I’m saying. Half the time he doesn’t even bother to listen to me.


I rang his surgery. John Lewis turned up nearly an hour after they rang me, to deliver fridge while I was trying to talk to the surgery. Surgery said GP would ring me.

I checked Dad. He was OKish, so I went to remove packaging from fridge and rearrange shelves. When I returned to Dad, who was opening envelopes, I noticed my phone was flashing. “Had anyone called?” I asked.

“Oh yes,” Dad said, looking at his post.

“Why didn’t you call me?” I asked. He looked blank. Then he moaned about the delivery men still not having delivered the fridge. He was astonished when I told him they had.

The call was the surgery. The GP left a message that didn’t seem to tell me anything. I gave up. Sod it.

I went from Dad’s place to Ashfield to give them the money for shopping that I’d withdrawn from the bank. Also asked them to ensure Dad’s zimmer frame was not left in the same room, as we’d agreed. I pointed out that we wouldn’t want Dad to fall over and perhaps hurt himself. They agreed to tell the assistants.

Too late to go to any surgery with my prescription. I’ll have to do it tomorrow.


As soon as I got home, his telecare service rang me to arrange stuff about getting a response team. They warned me the small sum only covers 8 calls a month. Beyond that, we’d have to arrange a charge to cover extra call outs. Yeah, yeah. I had no fucks left to give, by then.

I scraped together the little tiny fragment of my remaining weed and had a smoke. As I sat down, looking forward to just having a blank evening, Dad’s GP rang and suggested she would be round to see him in ten minutes and would I be there? I put coat back on and walked round.

Dad was surprised to see me. I tried to explain a couple of times that GP was coming but he wasn’t getting it. No idea whether he doesn’t hear (despite hearing aid) or there’s a cognitive impairment. I just don’t have the energy to care any more. Just sat there. He fell asleep and was astonished when the GP woke him. she had asked me whether he was coughing but he hadn’t mentioned anything like that. He happily told the GP he’d been coughing for weeks, when she asked. Apparently, he’d had a chest infection in hospital. Not that anyone had bothered to mention it to me. No wonder I’d told the GP this was all new.

She was concerned about his slow pulse. I told her I’d noticed that the hospital had removed his iron tablets from his medication and I mentioned this to the surgery pharmacist. GP said she needed to find out more and get back to me tomorrow.

Outside the living room, she looked at me with concern and asked if I was OK? I said it had been a bad day and was drained. That was all.

Went home, sat down and T rang. I told him about my day. It was just about the first day when he could have been really helpful, rather than running around in Essex supporting Gill about her sister’s funeral. I didn’t say that but said I didn’t want to talk, thanks. I wanted to crawl into a hole. He did the “oh, what a shame I’m not there!” bit and I restrained from all the comments I could have made.

Fuck it.



Ended up spending an hour on the phone trying to sort out T’s password.  Had to terminate the first call when still hanging on after 31 minutes and rang back to make a complaint. At the end of that call T said he ought to go out and get bread for us. I had to point out it was 3.20 and the awaited mattress was due to be delivered between 3.35 and 4.35. Why couldn’t he figure that out himself?

In addition, I put my foot down and asked to see his previous records about tax returns as he’d assured me at the beginning of the year that he’d never, ever, filed a return online. I found his 2013 return (copy) and pointed out he had filed online before and I was only pointing it out because it was important. (First operative had tried to tell me there was no Government Gateway account).

This came up on FB later, from this time last year:
“OH is convinced something is wrong with the online self assessment process. First – when he keys in all the passcodes, he can’t get in. When I do it, I can. This, he concludes, has nothing to do with him, as he is not making any errors.
Second, he has now entered his figures on the tax return and ends up owing more than he earned for the year. Um… looks like I need to sort him out tomorrow “


I’m becoming convinced T has Alzheimers. Why? Well, over the last two years his memory has become so bad he himself is worried.

He’s beginning to find reasons not to do anything he’s not interested in. When I suggested he go to the local drop in computer centre to learn more and save calling me in once or twice a week to sort out simple problems, he said he would. Then he couldn’t because of X. Then he needed to sort out his tax return and couldn’t think of anything before that. Except he’s been concentrating on trying to find a new writing project to engage himself in. once he’s writing, he doesn’t do anything else.

He’s forgotten how to put the hoover together and I found him tugging and twisting at the hose to get it to release from the body of the machine. He’s asked me to drill him in how to put it together and take it apart, but I’d rather he left it. I don’t want to have to buy a new one.

Last year he lost his car keys for the first time in his life.

I’m worried that the car accident he had in December (his car was a write off) is down to loss of concentration. He’s complaining that he now has to concentrate all the time when he’s driving.

In the last two years he’s left the tap running three times because he’s easily distracted, especially if his phone rings. He’s put a post-it note over the sink to remind himself. He regulary fails to turn off lights or shut drawers, cupboard doors etc. He complains he’s become paranoid about forgetting and, when I stay with friends for a weekend, he says he checks everything in the house two or three times before he leaves it.

He constantly forgets to swipe his smart phone if he wants to open or close something. instead he jabs it, as though it were the old type of phone, then becomes irritated and turns it off.

The most upsetting is that communication has steadily become more difficult. If I don’t understand the point he’s making, or argue with it, he becomes irritated and accuses me of being difficult. I have gradually – over 2-3 years – found myself disagreeing with most of what he says. It’s become almost impossible to have an actual discussion, which is such a shame, as he’s a high functioning individual with a sharp mind.

Watching TV has become difficult because he constantly misses things and needs constant updates to understand the plot.

He wants to have a holiday (we haven’t had one for a couple of years) but I’m not sure I want one, as I foresee it will be a week of arguing.

I’ve searched the internet today and found there is a drug that helps memory. To access it he needs to be checked over by a memory Assessment, which means a GP’s referral. He’s unwilling to see his GP at the moment, as he’s undergoing tests for spinal compression. He seems to have the feeling he’s using up too much of NHS time, as it is.  He declined to see the GP for chronic athlete’s foot and prefers to buy stuff online to treat it. That’s only a small thing, but it demonstrates how difficult it might be to coax him to see the GP about his memory.

As if I didn’t have enough with Dad!


the bore of hospital

I have more floaters. They’ve appeared (or I’ve noticed them) in the last week. A horde of pinprick dots in the left eye. That means going to the eye clinic.

That means going to Hereford. The car parking charges have jacked up tremendously in the last few years, so I’ll have to park in the one long stay and trek across town. Remember to take sunglasses and reading glasses, because, once I register in A%E, the routine will be dilating eye drops and waiting around. It takes four hours for the eye dilation to wear off.

Every procedure carries risk. And every hospital routine hours of boredom. I’m not looking for ward to this. 😦


T’s inability to see the TV hit a new low last night, when he asked me to read subtitles for him. Over the last few weeks, he’s been asking me who is talking onscreen, when we’re watching the sixth part of an historical drama. I asked him to make that appointment to have his eyes checked and he brushed it aside impatiently. The last time I mentioned it, he made false promises.

I’ve been watching his screen, if I pop into the study for something. A few months ago, he was delighted when I gave him my 24 inch monitor, as I saw he was struggling with the 21 inch I’d previously given him. Then I showed him how to change the size of the image in Word. Now he’s gone from one page, to half a page, to a quarter page.

In Devon, he frightened me with a complete inability to read my road map. He had to lean over it with a large magnifying glass. by the time I had to make a choice to turn, he still hadn’t figured out where we were. If he warned me of a road sign or a cyclist, it was when they were a few feet from the bonnet. I have no idea how he manages to drive, but I suspect he doesn’t want to have an eye test in case he’s told not to drive.

It would wreck his lifestyle not to drive.  I can well understand his hesitancy. “Never let them take your car away from you,” our neighbour, Hilda, told me a few weeks ago. “You lose all independence.”

I do understand. But I dread any news that someone gets hurt by this.

Cold Water

Today found T about to enter bathroom with kettle. That means he’s boiled water to wash in. I was busy fixing his mobile phone, which took all of yesterday. I abandoned that to ask about the water, sensing a new problem.

“I ran it,” he says. “It’s cold.”

“Do you mind if I try?” I ask, which he agrees to. He’s right – the water is cold. I head for the airing cupboard, which houses the boiler controls.

“Don’t worry about it now,” he says. That’s one of those statements that does not translate, for me. Am I meant to put it on a to do list? might as well do it now. I check everything and find the electricity switch for the central heating/hot water control has been turned off. T, of course, has no idea how that might have happened.

“Darling, you sometimes open the door to the airing cupboard before you have a shower. What do you do in the airing cupboard when you do that?”

We used to have a system of turning on the shower pump before having a shower, but that ceased a year ago. So I’ve put this behaviour down to seeking to turn on the hot water, forgetting there is no need to do so, anymore.

“I don’t do that.”

“Yes, you do, darling.”

“No I don’t. Anyway, I wouldn’t switch that off.”

I do hope we don’t have an infestation of pixies. 😉

[Later note – T accidentally turned the switch off when he was hanging wet clothes in the airing cupboard. It was during his struggle to reinsert the vicious drying frame. He’d crap with figuring how to put things back together and wouldn’t notice the click of a switch in the general mayhem.]

Christmas Day 2015

I have noticed the rims of the glasses look dirty, so I checked the cupboard in case we have any visitors. Only found one wine glass looking particularly suspect, so I put it out for washing up, as T does that.

Found it on the draining board this morning, still with a wine-stained rim. So I asked T if he wouldn’t mind re-washing. Or I’d do it. He fretted. He was especially careful to wash rims of glasses. He pointed to our scouring cloth. “I always do them with this!”

Head desk.

“I’d prefer it if you used this,” I pointed to the rough side of the gentle washing pads we have. “Glasses tend not to take to scouring. It’s better to use that for pots and pans. that’s what it’s designed to do – get that sort of dirt off. It won’t make good contact with glass.”

He still frets. “Where did you find it? It can’t have been washed.”

“It was on the draining board.”

I get out of his way as the kitchen isn’t large, and return to the computer. He comes up the stairs. “I’d like to be certain we’re talking about the same draining board.” (Yes, we only have the one) “Is it the one with the container for cutlery?”

“Yes, darling.”

“Well, that’s extraordinary! Was it upside down? If it wasn’t upside down, it wouldn’t have been washed.”

“Yes, darling. It was upside down.”

“I really don’t understand! I wash everything.”



T cannot get his radio to work again. We have been here before. As with the other things in his life, such as his preferred digestif, he runs out and forgets to replace it. Once he is out of brandy he will steal my whisky, so I have to hide it. he doesn’t do it deliberately, and will be hurt if I ask him not to, on the grounds that he would always offer his brandy to me. But as he is nearly always out of brandy, and I don’t drink it, that is not the issue, is it?

So: the radio. We have many radios in the house, and only two use batteries: the small portable in the bathroom and the slightly larger portable he owns. When his portable expires, we have the same routine. He asks me where the batteries are. I ask which batteries, as he knows where the rechargeables are, as they are kept in his study.

“No, the batteries for my radio.”

“We don’t keep those sort of batteries, darling, as nothing in the house requires them except your radio. So you are responsible for those batteries.”

“I’ll use the bathroom radio until I buy some.”

It is now a few weeks later. “Do you mind if I use the bathroom radio?”

“I thought you’d replaced the batteries in your radio?”

“I did, but it doesn’t work.”

So I go to look at it, as I deal with the electrics in the house. It takes 4 batteries. They have been inserted correctly and all appear suitable for a demanding product such as a radio. The only oddity is that they are of two different sorts: one is Sainsburys’ own label and the other a commercial branded product. I ask why he bought two different sorts?

“They came in the same pack.”

I find this very odd, but he insists he bought a pack of 6 from Sainsburys. In the hope that the remaining 2 are the same as one of the other pairs, I ask where they are? He has put them away safe somewhere. As it is now the evening, and searching for anything T has put away safely may take several hours, we reconvene the next day. I leave him to the search. He emerges triumphant with 4 batteries, which look suspiciously like the ones we removed from his radio the previous night. I ask him where he found them? He tells he they were on the window sill next to the radio. I point out they are the batteries that do not work.

Crestfallen, he returns to the search, giving up half an hour later. I point out the anomaly of a supermarket selling a mixed pack of batteries, but he insists it is so. He cannot recall whether the remaining batteries resembled either of the ones we have. He does not have the discarded pack. He does not wish to return the batteries, as there will be queues. He will go out and buy four new batteries, as someone may have broken into the pack and replaced new batteries with worn ones.

I refrain from pointing out this is really unlikely in Sainsburys, because by now I am even doubting he bought batteries there, though two of them are the store’s own brand.

“Then don’t forget to buy yourself some brandy, darling,” is all I say.