Thursday, April 06, 2006


A noise awoke me in the middle of the night; there is a baby monitor in my room so I can hear if I’m needed; just the tiniest noise, a click that shouldn’t be there. I got up and went in to see if Joy was alright; she was walking towards the door, stark naked, but using her walking frame. I asked her where she was going. ‘Looking for you,’ she said, but really, she’d forgotten why she was out of bed. I was grateful that she was quite awake and hadn’t fallen over. Oh the tales I could tell about this woman and her late-night wanderings.

She hasn’t got out of bed by herself in months, well not since she fell out of it in the middle of the night. Like this time, a noise woke me up; I could hear Joy coughing and choking, gasping for breath. I leapt up and ran into their room; she was hanging off the bed, her feet still tucked in and her head stuck in the metal loop of the safety rail that is an aid to help her get out of the bed. Her chin was right through the loop, her throat pressing into the side. There was blood all over the place because her knees were skimming the carpet and she’d banged her arms and face. Gent was crying from his side, 'Can I help. What can I do?’ I told him to stay in bed; he couldn’t get out of it on his own anyway, and being blind there was nothing he could do.

I got her untangled and sitting on the floor leaning against the bed. Nothing was broken but there were quite a few wounds and a lot of blood over both of us. Joy’s skin is so fragile that even a little box of tissues dropped on her leg causes it to split. I tried to clean up the wounds but the skin had wrinkled back off such big areas; one on each side of her knees and upper arms. It was a hospital job. I called an ambulance and got her comfortable, and reassured Gent. They had her back before dawn, all patched up. Since then she’s stayed in bed all night, well-tucked in, and, the space in the rail has been filled in. Also, she’s gone from one urine infection to another, and they’ve kept her weak in the legs so, her getting up in the night by herself is a sign she's getting better.

One night last year, when Gent was in hospital, something woke me. I got up to check on Joy; she wasn’t there. I looked around but couldn’t see her. I went back to the bedroom and looked on the floor at Gent’s side of the bed, not there either. Back through the silent house again and there she was, sitting in the dining room eating breakfast. I thought, with a start, how did she get the milk? The fridge is in a little back utility room which is a couple of steps down, and also the reason that Gent fell and broke his thigh-bone. When I looked at what she was eating, she had marmalade in the cereal! and banana. I used to set the breakfast table at night. She was amazed when I told her that it was only 3am.

The carer’s bedroom is right next door to them but it used to be upstairs on the other end of the house; this is when they were both a little more mobile, maybe about 9 months ago. We had a bell that Gent could press if they needed anything in the night. Early one morning I heard Gent calling me; it was 5.30am, I jumped up and ran downstairs. He was standing outside their bedroom door, holding on to the wall. Joy had fallen and he had forgotten about the bell in the panic. She’d got up to use the commode, as usual, and fallen. He had been calling me for half an hour and of course I couldn’t hear through all the walls; it’s an old house and well-built. Then he’d got out of bed and felt his way around the bed and over to the door so he could open it and call me. Joy had broken her hip. After that, one of the sons and I changed the rooms over. I’d been saying since I first arrived here, that the carer needs to be next to the client. Then we got the baby monitor. I think that saved Joy’s life the night she nearly strangled; Gent was only aware that something was wrong when I came into the room; he must’ve been in a deep sleep.

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