A momentary change from the general smart-arsery and occasional bile that is the usual tone of this blog:
Back in the Spring I had a health scare that sent me a warning shot of mortality - this weekend I had a similar experience with dad. He's in his 80's, increasing frail and until now the sole carer for my mum who is effectively house-bound. I got a phone call on Friday from the ambulance service to say that they were taking him into hospital as he had become confused and lost his memory. So I had a manic ride across London through the rush hour down to Kent to check that my mum was with a neighbour, and then on to the hospital.
There I found my dad, who until very recently was a local councillor, school governor and leading light in the local Labour Party, utterly disorientated and just about able to recognise me.
He had lost all recollection of where he was and what he was doing and could only just about recall his own date of birth and what he had done for a living before retiring. A stroke was suspected but then dismissed. In the course of four or five agonising hours in the A&E department, whilst he waited admission to a ward, he was given medication to lower his blood pressure. As this happened his memory and awareness gradually returned. I went back to my parents' house to check on my mum and just after midnight we had a ominous phone call. Answering with trepidation - it was my dad's more or less normal voice speaking - more or less lucidly. I returned to the hospital the next morning to find him sat up in bed reading the Independent and talking about the news.
Having got him home, it was apparent that things cannot continue as before. So from having no support at all in looking after my mum, he now has a package from social services. I stayed with them until this support kicked-in. It's not really much more than a safety net but it will hopefully give him the all-important psychological reassurance that the burden is not solely on his shoulders.
Again, as with my own very similar experience, I am struck by the fragility of life and 'self'. Those things that define us as a person hang by such a thin thread. I'm also struck by the underlying sadness of old age - the knowledge that our world and its horizons will slowly close in around us so that planning a journey upstairs or cooking lunch becomes a major pre-occupation. I am disgusted with my selfish panic of 'how the fuck am I going to cope with this from now on?' And I'm also struck, despite all the frustrations and delays, by the fundamental kindness of everyone in the caring professions from doctors to home-helps - and I find it humbling and sobering in comparison with the fundamentally vacuous nature of my own working life.
That's about it I'm afraid. Nothing original, insightful or witty to say. But at the same time not to record my feelings here on my blog would somehow seem dis-honest. I promise normal service will soon be resumed.