The lack of posts recently is in direct proportion to how busy I have been lately, managing Dad's needs from afar, mainly. My brother stays in our UK house for half of each week in order to be on hand to deal with all the miscellaneous problems that arise and, of course, to visit him most days.
Monday. Nick has been back in the UK for the last two weeks and Monday was his last full day there.
Having calculated that each return trip for both of us with the pets now costs around £750 we decided to travel back and forth individually by air which is much, much cheaper. It also means that both houses are left empty for less time and we can spend more time with Dad overall, albeit only one of us at a time.
On Monday afternoon Nick arrived at Dad's flat at 1.20 pm to remind him that he was going to get a phone call from the memory clinic. This is the first step in assessing Dad's degree of dementia and ten minutes later the phone rang right on time. The call lasted for over an hour and Nick described it as both hilarious and tragic.
Dad could count backwards from twenty but couldn't do simple sums. For a man who was a talented engineer and mathematician this is so sad. He knew his date of birth and where he was born but didn't know where he lived, what day or even month it was. He had a guess at February. And so it went on.
The interesting part is that when asked if he was happy and content he said yes. If he had any problems he said no. The nurse asked him about his health and well being and Dad reported no problems at all. Nick intervened and explained about his medical issues and that he avoided any socialising or contact with other residents as much as possible, etc. etc.
This insight into his perspective on his own life was very illuminating. Like the person told me a couple of weeks ago, they don't realise their quality of life is poor and could be better, it is what it is.
On Tuesday Nick travelled back to the UK. As he was about to go through the barrier to check in all hell let loose and chaos ensued. There was a bomb scare resulting from the discovery of an abandoned suitcase.
The whole airport was evacuated, planes were left circling for hours and not allowed to land. Nick and hundreds of other passengers had to wait outside in the car park along with staff and flight crews while car loads of heavies arrived, armed police, ordinary police and, eventually, the bomb squad.
It was a false alarm. Nick's flight was delayed but by only an hour and a half. After picking him up from the airport we finally fell into bed at 1 am.
Wednesday morning, having had only a few hours sleep, we were up early. ("At the crack of sparrow fart" as my mum would have said.) Nick was playing golf and I had to get the cat to the vet in Loches for 8.30 am for a small procedure requiring a general anesthetic. My plan was to meet a friend in town at 9.30 for coffee, then do some food shopping and maybe having a spot of lunch before collecting the cat "au debut de l'après-midi", which means as soon as the clinic reopens after their two hour lunch, at 2 pm.
Some things in France never change, it's all part of the charm of living here.
The vet scuppered my plans by telling me that I needed to bring a cheque to send with the biopsy to the lab.
Rats! The cheque book was back at the house, so instead of shopping I would have to drive all the way home and back again. There are other things in France that never change either and one of them is cumbersome processes that they don't tell you about until the last minute.
On collecting the cat I was handed a parcel to take to the post office. It seems it was up to me to post the biopsy tissue sample to the lab. Oh, and the cheque wasn't needed after all. The vet was proud to tell me that their internal processes had taken care of the payment. I pay them and they pay the lab.
Rats again! I could have done my shopping and had a nice lunch after all.
Wednesday was a hot day, reaching 29°C in the afternoon. On collecting the cat I set off home, deciding that I could call at the post office to post the biopsy to the lab on my way, the only problem being the heat.
The cat hates car journeys and makes a lot of noise, which becomes even louder if there is any other noise in the car, such as a radio, conversation, road noise, anything in fact, including the fan for the air conditioning. Our journeys with the cat have to be done in total silence, the only person being allowed to make any noise at all being her and by jove she can do a lot of that.
A cat still dopey from anesthetic can make a lot more noise than you would expect and this became even louder when the car's air conditioning came on. She was clearly distressed so I had to turn it off. We had to bake or I would die of earache and the cat would be distraught.
There was more of a problem at the post office. There is absolutely no shade in the car park there, so I had no choice but to take the cat basket into the post office with me. Nobody batted an eyelid at the woman carrying a cat into the post office to hand over a parcel. The assistant looked at the address on the parcel, gave me a sympathetic look and wished me "bon courage". I didn't know how to say in French that the biopsy wasn't for me, it was for the cat.
The afternoon ended well. News came that Dad's care is to be transferred to the on site care team where he lives, which will be a huge improvement and relief to us all. Well, to me, Nick and my brother, the only three people who look after his needs.
The care from the external care agency we have been using is shambolic and disorganised and we will be glad to see the back of them. Getting his care moved has taken a good deal of pushing and shoving which at last has paid off.
Last weekend Nick and my brother installed a spy camera in Dad's flat after one or two strange inexplicable things had happened.
Wednesday evening I peeked at the spy camera about 10 pm. We were bushed and ready to go to bed by then. Dad was up and dressed and having his breakfast - it was 9 pm UK time. The camera revealed that he had gone to bed about 5pm and got up again, presumably thinking it was morning. His understanding of time, along with so many things, has left him.
I phoned him.
"Hello Dad, what are you up to?"
"I'm having my breakfast."
"Well it's nine o'clock in the evening not morning. You should be in bed."
We saw on camera that he put the phone down on me, went back to the table, finished his bran flakes then shuffled off to bed, turning out the lights as he left the room.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday whizzed by in a blur of activity, most of which trivial and not worthy of a mention here. Except that keeping Daisy indoors has been a major challenge. She soon recovered from the anesthetic and was not impressed by having to wear the cone. This is essential if she is not to scratch the wound where the biopsy was taken but it has already been modified - a bit cut out so she can actually eat and drink from her bowl and a large split resulting from her crashing into furniture with some force now held together with sticky tape.
Today is Sunday and for some this is considered to be the last day of the previous week, for others the first day of the next week. Daisy seems resigned to her confinement and is accepting the cone stoically if somewhat grudgingly, her repertoire of black looks cast in our direction in full use. It will be a miracle if we get through the next week until the stitches come out unscathed.
Then, once the vet knows what the lump is, we then have to decide whether or not to have it removed which means going through the whole process all over again....
That's it for now..........