wings and things

Routine to the rescue

I’m not crazy about the idea of routine and now that I am once again a lady of leisure unemployed, there is even less incentive to exit the world of spontaneity and knuckle down.

In my recent interview with the finding-another-job people, I stated that I only wanted part-time work because I liked to spend the afternoons with Anthony in the nursing home. I also stated that I would be happy to do something completely different from my previous jobs (lecturer, nurse etc.) So it’s with a degree of mild excitement that I am now looking at outside-the-box possibilities. We shall see!

In the meantime, I have settled into a routine of being with Anthony from just before noon until about 4pm. This way, I can help him with his lunch; make sure he is warm enough; get him comfortable in his electrical armchair; give him chocolate, bananas and beer (but not all at the same time); and just be there, very close, one hand on his head and the other hand inside both of his.

This arrangement is great and our mutual friends and relatives now visit us at the nursing home. I am free to make visitors coffee or tea (our friend, C, visited this afternoon and it actually did feel like we were all home at the farm). I also have plenty of long-lasting snacks in Anthony’s cupboard, you know, like nuts and stuff, plus red wine, brandy, scotch and warm beer. The ready availability of this kind of sustenance also helps to make Anthony’s room homey and, I hope, welcoming.

If I am meeting friends for lunch, I simply go to see Anthony a bit later in the afternoon and then stay later in order to help him with his dinner. So I think the fact that I am now always there in the afternoon has become something he can now rely on; it gives both of us a definite daily expectation. It also frees my whole morning up so I can do other things like the exhilarating tasks of housework, washing and cooking for a fussy son ha!

Sometimes I feel incredibly lazy and unproductive sitting on the side of Anthony’s armchair with him, watching Dr Phil or a television series, or Master Chef. But, thanks to either the ‘pause’ or ‘mute’ buttons, I can always stop whatever show is on and we can converse with each other and/or visitors, AND the wonderful staff who are so affectionate and friendly to both of us

Today, Anthony was quite vocal and ‘with-it’ until about 3pm when he thought his mother’s eye-glasses were on the floor (yes, the hallucinations are getting worse but not distressing yet, like they used to be at home).

Anthony: You are popular, Jules.
Me: What do you mean?
Anthony: Everyone always wants to know when you will be here.
Me: No, it is YOU who is popular, Ants! The staff here love you!
Anthony: I don’t think so – I think it’s you.
Me: Rubbish, Ants!
Anthony: I beg to differ.

But a couple of hours after this lucid conversation, as I was about to leave to come home:

Me: I’m off now to do the grocery shopping, Ants, okay?
Anthony: Is everything in the shed?
Me: Of course!
Anthony: What about the calves?
Me: They’re fine; Ming is taking care of it – don’t worry.
Anthony: Don’t be too long, Jules.
Me: I’ll be back as soon as I can.

And, after one last kiss, hug, joke, lie, I come back home to this beautiful farm and begin to accept that this new routine is working.

Anthony’s face is no longer as expressionless as it was six months ago….


He is smiling again!


Routine to the rescue!

I have never been that crazy about routine. As a younger person I had a reputation for being a bit erratic, despite being a nurse and then a lecturer (jobs in which I was never late but always nearly late!) When Anthony went into the nursing home (nearly two and a half years ago), there was a lot of grief, confusion and uncertainty, but no routine.

Now we have a routine and my heart has stopped racing around anxiously. It is so simple and easy and I wonder why I didn’t do this before but I guess the new routine coincides with a noticeable deterioration in Anthony’s mobility and mind function.

For a couple of weeks now, I have been going into the nursing home for most of the afternoon. In Anthony’s bedside cupboard I have lots of snack foods and drinks, cup-a-soups, brandy, wine, chocolates and sometimes I bring fresh cheese and olives.

If the heater isn’t turned on I reach up and press the button, after kissing my husband hello. Then I put a blanket from home on Anthony’s legs, adjust the chair, change the TV station to something I want to watch, move my chair right next to his and hold his hand.

Sometimes (lately) Anthony says, “How do you always know where to find me?” Sometimes he can’t get the words out – they stumble and crouch, frustrated, just above his lips. Sometimes he drools into what we call ‘the dribble rag’ because his swallowing reflexes have slowed down. Sometimes he tries to squeeze my hand in his and there is a small smile.

So I am now in the nursing home with Ants from 2-5pm most days and sometimes from noon. Does this make me a caring-wife hero-type? No! I don’t even understand what has happened to me to make me all-of-a-sudden so attentive! I love him, of course but I hated going into the nursing home for awhile/off and on. Now I actually can’t wait for 2pm every single day.

This routine has really helped me cope.

PS. This new routine means I don’t have much time atm to follow, comment on other blogs but you are all on my radar.