Thursday, July 26, 2007

Days 149-152:dual personality

I'm back in Bangkok looking after my other patient: husband with a bad neck.

My last days in London were foggy and cold. I took Dad to see the Chinese doctor who does a marvellous job at NOT reassuring my Dad's fears. Not only was Dad to take it easy at this time of year (December), but in particular, he shouldn't strain his bowel movements.

As if Dad isn't obsessed enough with his number two's, he's even more so now!

Semi-fetched Mum from her trip. When she got home, it was like she had never left - there was a lot of complaining.

During my stay in London this time, while I thought Dad and I had been getting along fairly OK, he did say once "things won't be the same between us after this," - sort of implying that our relationship had changed, maybe to one less loving. I really didn't know what to say.

On my last day in London I was testing out my new digital voice recorder and asked Dad to say a few words. While my mum told me how much she would miss me, Dad chose to say: "You have a dual personality. Sometimes you are very nice. Other times, you are like another person."

At this point, I felt it reasonable to cut him off! Not exactly a nice lasting memory to take back to Bangkok!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Days 147-148: back to the land of sound

Dad was in a foul mood yesterday. He's obsessed with getting a lenshood gadget for his latest camera and insists on shopping around to every small camera shop he knows in order to get it. As he's not fully independent, I have to go with him. At one point I had had quite enough and he threatened to go off by himself. Luckily, he didn't.

On the plus side, today he got his new hearing aids. They're sleek, dark grey, state-of-the-art masterpieces in micro- nano- digital technology. It's amazing. I don't have to shout at him, we can have a normal level conversation. In wonder, he told me how he could hear the women behind him on the bus chatting away.

It's like emerging from the cocoon of muffled sound and misunderstandings, back into the real world.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Days 141-146: Joe 90!

Dad had been asked to go for more tests at another hospital, this time to investigate his dizzy spells. If I have to be frank, it seemed like more of these experimental research areas rather than a proper diagnosis.

Firstly, he was seen by this no-nonsense doctor lady, although somehow, she did de-frost towards the end, maybe due to Dad's charm.

Then there was this mad professor-like man. Seriously, think of Einstein and then add a pair of wonky glasses. He was obviously the head of the research facility.

After, Dad was taken into the bowels of the hospital and made to sit in a revolving chair. He was clamped in place ("it's like an electric chair," dad said), a curtain with white luminous vertical stripes surrounded him, left in pitch black and then the chair was spun around and around.

"Stop! stop!" dad cried out in obvious distress. He couldn't see anything but these stripes passing by. I could look at the researcher's infra-red tv and see dad spinning around in the chair just like Joe 90.

After a few more go's, Dad had had enough and the testing stopped He really hated it there, described it as 'torture'. Looking back now, though, we have a little laugh about it.

Anyhow, after waiting for eons for the mad professor to see us (by now, the cleaners were putting away the waiting chairs and hoovering the floor), the diagnosis was that they weren't sure what was wrong. Dizzy spells probably due to his eye problem left over from the stroke. Well, I could have bleeding well told them that, couldn't I.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Day 140: ding! ding! ding ding ding ding ding ding ding

That's the sound of some bizarre percussion instrument in Chinese opera beating out the rhythms faster and faster. For the first time since dad's stroke, I heard him humming away to some Chinese opera tune in his head. He's a huge fan and used to sing some segment under his breath very often. It was so good to hear him tra-lah-lah-ing along again.

One of the my mum's many frustrations is Dad's deafness. His hearing aid is some duff one made years ago and for some reason, the GP has always fobbed off any notion that Dad should get another one on the NHS. Well, to be frank, I didn't even know you could get them on the NHS! Anyhow, by the end of this UK trip, I was determined Dad would be able to hear me without me screeching at the top of my voice.

So we went to Specsavers as they had a 2 for 1 offer and it looked like Dad would definitely need hearing aids for both ears. He took a hearing test in a sealed up booth ("looks like a fridge," Dad grunted). He had to press a button each time he heard something through his headphones.

Diagnosis? Very bad hearing, especially at high ranges. "Still got his reactions though," the audiologist remarked dryly. And his negotiating skills as Dad drove a bargain involving monthly interest-free payments.

He tried out a top-of-the-range model and could actually hear us talking at a normal level! OK, not crystal clear, but so much better than shouting. So we're going to give it a go. Of course, it still costs a bomb. And Dad will still go and get an NHS one now (even if I have to twist the bloody GP's arm myself for the referral). But fingers crossed, the world of hearing should be open to him very soon...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Days 137-139: bye bye mummy

An interesting weekend. On Saturday, took Dad to Selfridges. We were testing out his new taxicard which knocks off about 11 quid on the taxi fare.

Well, we're really not that far from Selfridges. When we got to the taxi, it was already £6 on the meter cos the driver had been waiting 5 minutes. The total fare came up to £17, or which £8 we had to pay. So yes, it did get us there door-to-door, and I'm grateful to the government for stumping up over half the fare. But my palms still sweated a fair bit as the taxi meter clocked up.

We'd brought the wheelchair along and people were very polite and nice, opening doors, helping with lifts etc. Dad says though he looks "awful" in the chair.

Today, mum left for her holiday. As dad was in a funny mood, she said I shouldn't send her off. So, it's just me and dad now.

Fatt still in pain in Bangkok. I also heard about an old friend of mine whom I hadn't been in touch with in ages: she had a bad motorbike accident. Thankfully she is recovering OK, but has had to endure months of physiotherapy to learn how to walk. 2006 hasn't been a good year for health.....

Friday, June 29, 2007

Days 135-136: aims

Dad's care manager came round and we talked about social services' rehabilitation plans for him. They're aiming for him to be as independent as possible. The first step is for him to take public transport by himself. So far, he can get on and off buses with somebody around just in case. The physios are going to take it one step at a time. For example, making sure that he gets on OK at one bus stop, then skidding quickly to meet him as he gets off at the next one...

I took Dad to Chinatown - it was a big trip with brilliant sunshine one minute than thudding hailstones the next. But we made it. Only afterwards did I find out that it was one of those Chinese 'special days' i.e. when the weather /environment 'changes' and old / sick people should take extra care and not over-exert themselves.

The following day, an 'escort' came round to take Dad to the shops. I always laugh when they're referred to as escorts. Can't help it. Anyhow, it was another Nigerian lady. Or rather girl. Very pretty and petite and nice enough. Not willing to wheel Dad around in a wheelchair though, so they took the bus to Sainsburys, chased after his shopping list and bussed back, all within an hour.

Mum has also had some scans done for her health problems. Thankfully they seem to confirm a diagnoses fairly easy to deal with.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Day 134: Bracing himself

It's great to see how much Dad can do now - he's pretty independent, at least at home. He can wash his own hair, make his own breakfast, sort out his own clothes, handwash his underwear... he's managed to get his favourite carer to come in three mornings a week to help wash him.

Took Dad to a clinic on Harrow Road. It's some special clinic which fixes leg braces to help support you when you walk. Dad has a temporary one already which he likes. We waited for an hour - Dad kept telling me to go check that they hadn't forgotten us. I was reluctant, but did as he said. The receptionist just kept saying he didn't know when we'd be seen. In the meantime, tens of patients came and went ahead of us.

Turned out they had forgotten us.

So in a rush, they did fit us in. They were very nice and apologetic but I was pretty pissed off. Anyhow Dad's new brace is massive so they cut it down. It's a great help, but if he becomes overly reliant on it, he won't be able to walk without it.

Took the bus back home. Ken Livingstone's initiative of free bus travel for schoolkids is all very well, but they cause huge crowds at the bus stops. Most of the kids are fine but the naughty few drive the bus drivers insane and they start snapping at all and sundry. Anyhow, as I said before, it's usually the schoolkids who give their seat up to Dad, while able-bodied adults hog the priority seats, pretending they're asleep or that there's something amazingly interesting out the window...