Thursday, 22 May 2014

"What did you have for breakfast?"

I ask my friend. There had been a call from the hospital while I was out and, at the time the Senior Cat gave them, they phoned again. My friend wanted to talk to me. Was that all right? I could hear the warning in the voice of the nurse making the call and, knowing my friend could not hear me, I asked, "Yes - pain or food issues?"
Both it seemed. Well, at least I was prepared.
My friend has become like a small child in many ways. She wants the impossible of me. Of pain medication she will tell me, "Tell them I need it!" And, of food, "But I'm not hungry. I get this awful pain when I eat. You've got no idea."
No, I haven't got any idea. She is wearing a nappy (diaper to those of you in the USA) now - something she was not wearing six weeks ago when she was taken to hospital. She has lost more weight, a lot more weight. She was underweight to start with and now she is almost skeletal.
My sister went with me in the afternoon and, while she was talking to the ward doctor - a friendly, pleasant and cheerful young man from Africa with just two years experience out of medical school - I talked to my friend. I asked about breakfast. That, it seems, was a pot of yoghurt and - she hesitated over this - some milk. Lunch? Half a bowl of soup and a small tub of ice cream - and a nurse later told me that she had fed her although my friend is perfectly able to feed herself. "We wanted to make sure she ate something."
I don't know what my friend ate for the evening meal. She is being given packs of high energy drink and complained to me they had taken the water away. It all sounded like a fractious toddler's complaints.
And no, it is not in the least bit like the highly intelligent woman I know - or knew.
My sister came in and asked a great many more questions about where the pain was located, what type of pain it is and when it occurs. It comes from anxiety as much as anything else - and a failure to eat.  An explanation of why it is necessary to eat in order to reduce physical discomfort followed. Suggestions were made for gentle bed exercises to keep up some muscle strength. I know it is all perfectly reasonable and possible. My sister does too. She's a professional and would not be suggesting something she thought unreasonable.
And I watched my friend. My sister and I signed the papers yesterday giving us guardianship. It's a huge responsibility - the responsibility for someone else's sick child even though that person is now a grown up and her parents have long gone. We have, in a sense, "adopted" her. It frightens me. How do people do it?


bbookbear said...

Hi Cat,
Your blog really touched me, as the Senior Bear is rapidly getting to a similar stage. I am staying with him, so he is still at home but it is difficult to say for how long. In the past four months since I moved in, he has regressed from about ten or twelve to about three or four maybe. The hardest part for me is that no two days are the same. What helps me most are my friends who will listen and offer suggestions. I am really lucky to have them.
I will be glad to hold your virtual paw or lend a furry brown ear if you need it.

catdownunder said...

Oh you are a dear Bookbear - let's hold one another's paws! At least with me it is a friend and not the Senior Cat. I think if it was the Senior Cat I would feel frantic. You are so right about friends.

Anonymous said...

I think I need to throw a virtual quilt over both of you!

catdownunder said...

Judy, you do an excellent job of holding my paw already!