the weary, almost in tears, voice at the other end of the phone told me last night.
The younger cousin of the stroke patient was reporting in. She has done this each night. She needs someone to talk to at the end of each day.
Nobody could have done more than she has. She has visited the hospital and, now, the rehabilitation facility every day and stayed for hours at a time. Her older cousin is still anxious and, occasionally, confused.
The Older Cousin's condition is complicated by an artificial heart valve. The valve is almost fifteen years old. That in itself would be a matter for concern. Her medication, particularly the warfarin, is being closely monitored but lately the results of the now daily blood tests have been "all over the place".
None of this surprises me, my sister or my newly qualified doctor nephew. There are multiple reasons why it might happen.
Last night the Younger Cousin said that Older Cousin had been "dizzy" all day - and frightened with it.
Older Cousin's speech is still very limited. I set up a simple communication board after consultation with the speech pathologist - a lovely young girl with far too little time to spend on each person who needs her. Would I be interfering? I asked her and she said no, she would welcome the help as I clearly knew Older Cousin better than she did and also knew what I was doing. So the board has eased part of the fear of not being understood about essentials but it has not eased the fear of having another stroke and becoming helpless. Underneath all the stubborness and determination Older Cousin is terrified. Even the anti-depressant medication they have given her is not enough to remove the fear.
Yesterday Older Cousin could not stand comfortably. She has been walking short distances with a walker and a person either side. That did not happen yesterday. She was desperately tired and yet afraid of falling asleep.
I can understand all of that, so does my sister and my nephew. Her Younger Cousin understands too and, for all their lack of time, the nursing staff do too.
It made me acutely aware yet again of just how complicated the human body is, just how extraordinarily complex the engineering is and how each part is dependent on another.
It amazes me - and it terrifies me. I am trying not to feel useless in the face of the despair of Younger Cousin and the fear of Older Cousin. All I can do for now is listen.