Wednesday, April 23, 2008


1996 (snatches from my journal)

I still haven’t got the lovely wee car back yet; they’ve broken something else while they were fiddling with the exhaust and are searching Scotland for a new part. God knows when I’ll get it back, I’m demented waiting on these bloody buses or forking out for taxis; I must’ve spent £30 last week on them alone…and in the time I’ve spent on the buses I’ve read four little Penguin 60s and a half of William Golding’s The Inheritors. Brilliant.

She came home from hospital today and the torrent of abuse began the first time I refused her extra painkillers. I think she expected to be in charge of her pills and could take them whenever she wanted. She hadn’t been in the house five minutes when she attacked Amazon - in fact the ambulances were still in the road! I stuffed Amazon outside with busfare to the shopping centre and when I returned to the living room THE MOTHER had begun to throw money around the room; there were at least nine pound coins, all heading for my head.

‘Well, it can stay there,’ I said, ‘because I’m not picking it up.’ They’d scattered under the sofa, across the room, under the TV. I felt the tears behind my eyes. She began to cry and scream and then to sing. I phoned the hospital and asked advice about the little extra pill she’s allowed between the others if the pain is very bad. I’m just muddling along, but I won’t be bullied.

No-one came near today; no nurse, doctor, home-help, social worker. I don’t know where she’s going to sleep tonight; she’s terrified to lie down, can’t get her legs up on the bed. She’s huge – bigger than I thought. She tore off her bandages while I was cooking dinner. She said the hospital staff had put ‘bad stuff’ on her legs, on purpose to hurt her, just for pure badness. She’s going to sue them.

Back in 2008

– this clip is from the two weeks before my mother died; she went out like a tornado. A doctor described her as, Mad, bad and dangerous to know. She had persuaded me to get her out of hospital, that she would be fine when she was in her own house. I’d moved lock stock and children back up to Glasgow from Newcastle to do this (in the last year of my degree). I think the nursing staff was just glad to get rid of a difficult patient; she’d been throwing things all over the ward. Apparently it’s to do with hallucinations; she had water infections, leg ulcers...actually her body was drowning itself.

Obviously, no-one was looking at the big picture; they let me fall into this well and didn’t care enough to examine the situation properly. I ended up, a week later, sleepless, with my clothes inside out and back to front. It was a complete nightmare and the only support I got arrived on the last day because I’d broken down on the phone to someone with clout. When this stranger turned up I cried on her shoulder. She promised a wheelchair taxi if I could get my mother in the chair and out of the house; there had been a lot of biting and scratching going on – she’d completely refused to accept medical care for her legs or go to hospital. ‘Oh, I’ll stuff her in it all right,’ I said. I felt like a soldier going off to war, having to gather my courage for the onslaught. She had ballooned to a million stones, mostly water, and could barely stand, and I was knackered.

She'd tried to bite the doctor and nurses; she fell in the middle of the night and refused to go with the ambulance to hospital; two doctors offered me a bed for her and she wouldn't go; the only way out seemed for me to have her committed - thank God it didn't come to that.

I have to deal with the guilt incurred by the release I felt at her death, and temper it with memories of my real mother; that mad old bitch wasn’t her, and the whole incident was made worse by the money situation, the broken car, public transport and lack of support. Home carers have no idea of just how bad it can really get, until they’re so deep in the job that they can’t escape. I am glad that my experience was so short, but it is painful to accept and acknowledge that relief.

No comments: