Sunday, 2 May 2010


I’m up north. Grimstone. Bleakley. Hades-on-Sea. Whichever you prefer.

I’m here to take care of my grandmother. She’s got diverticulitis, which apparently is inflammation of the diverticulum, which apparently is an abnormal sac or pouch formed at a weak point in the wall of the alimentary tract. Twisted guts to you.

She went to the doctor last week. On the way to the doctor, she twisted her ankle and fell in the street, scraping her knee and cutting her hand. No one helped her up. As she was righting herself, a police car pulled up. They were looking for an elderly woman who matched my grandmother’s description. What for, I cannot say. My grandmother said she wasn’t the one they were looking for. Eventually the policeman questioning her noticed that her hand was bleeding. ‘Are you alright?’ he said.

‘No,’ my grandmother answered.

So they gave her a lift to the doctor where she was eventually prescribed an antibiotic called doxycycline. Unfortunately, some of the side effects of doxycycline are nausea, abdominal pains and vomiting. So my grandmother went to the doctor with pain; one day later she had pain and puking. She stopped taking the antibiotics.

I got here on Saturday afternoon, and she wasn’t very well at all. She looked awful in fact. And her voice was half a shadow.

I guess the only thing potentially worse than watching an old person in pain is watching a young person in pain. But then I don’t know. At least with a young person, you’re pretty sure that whatever it is, they’re probably going to get better.

I had a horrible thought the other day. It was wholly knee-jerk, but that doesn’t make it any easier to live with. It was when I heard my grandmother was ill, and it was, ‘Oh, well, if she dies, at least I won’t have to pay her back the money I owe her.’ That’s a pretty horrible thought, I’m sure you’ll agree. And believe me, I’m not proud of it. And I don’t want her to die. On the contrary, I want her to get better, and to feel great and to live long enough for me to be able to buy her a house nearer to other people who care for her. But realistically, that might mean both of us living into our two-hundreds. But if that’s what it takes, that’s what I want.

Christ, existence is horrific at times, isn’t it? Isn’t it though?

Having said that, she feels better today. I scrambled her an egg this morning and put it on a piece of toast, and thus far she’s managed to keep it down. Also, she’s doing the Daily Mail crossword (I know, I know, but what can you do?) and we’re listening to Smooth Radio Northeast (I know, I know – they even have something called ‘Smooth Unplugged’ – imagine that if you can). Also, she said she doesn’t know what she would have done if I hadn’t come up for the weekend. She’d have walked backwards and forwards, she said, from the bedroom to the kitchen, making tea and being sick.

So it’s good that I’m here. Not so good that I have to leave on Monday and leave her on her own to shuffle back and forth making tea and being sick.

But she’s going back to the doctor on Tuesday. Plus she’ll have other visitors next weekend. Plus she reckons she’s getting better. She says time is a great healer and all things must pass. She said she’ll either get better or it’ll turn into something nasty, and there’s no point worrying about that. At which point I went into the kitchen and felt quite, quite miserable.

Life is fucking unbearable. No, not life. Death. But there’s no point worrying about that.

We've just started to watch Little Miss Sunshine. I brought it with me. It was the only remotely grandmother-friendly film I own. I forgot about Alan Arkin's character taking coke in the opening montage. Grandmother made a noise. 'Oh, it's not one of them junkie films, is it?' she said. If she's not careful, I'll make her watch Bad Lieutenant.

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Kirses said...

Sad and touching at the time.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your gran.

If you are still concerned about her when you leave to come home, ask her Doctor if Social Services, Rapid Response team, can call in to keep an eye on her. RR is a free service for 10 days. I know this because I work for the RR team in my area.

Anonymous said...

I’ve just read your blogpost and have found it quite moving. The image of Gran injured, alone in the street, without a sole to help, has made me feel quite sad. Being alone is horrific at times, especially when all you’d like is someone to make you a cup of tea. What this weekend illustrates is how frightening it is to grow old alone, not surrounded by anyone who will notice that you’re feeling unwell - or notice you at all.

You’re a good grandson, and your heart is always in the right place. I’m sure those scrambled eggs on toast mean more to Gran than you know.


Charlene said...

It's amazing how going to the doctor isn't always a helpful thing to do.

Catofstripes said...

I'm very sorry to hear about your Gran, and also about you. Give her a great big hug from me, she doesn't have to know it's from a total stranger on the internet, and have one yourself.

Life is a bitch. Things may get better, fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

Hope your gran gets well sharpish. X

clumpf said...

Oh Bete, you are a love. Going to be with your gran is the best thing you could have done.

I'm very close to my own gran, even though she lives over the sea. I've mentioned her - she's 96 and in a nursing home now. She's been in there three months and loathes it. I rang her the other day and she was very upset, she's incontinent and they left her 'sitting in her own mess'.

I just want to make it better and I know I can't. I dread her going, but everytime I speak to her she sounds more and more sluggish and weary.

She said she suffers from 'TMB' - Too Many Birthdays. I so wish she was nearer. She's my only ally in my complicated family.


Anonymous said...

Sounds awful. You've done a very good thing going back. Hope your Grandmother gets better soon.

Anonymous said...

Love you! said...

I'm really sorry to hear about her being sick.

Don't feel bad about the thought - I've had plenty of those over the years: thinking about someone old and ill and that you don't want to die At. All. but then finding yourself having a brief thrilling rush of, Ooh, maybe there's an inheritance!, then feeling like the worst person in the world. But I think it's totally natural. A silver-lining instinct inbuilt into all of us.


La Bête said...

Thank you all for your thoughts. They are much appreciated. x