Does anyone have any ideas about dealing with it? Because I don’t.
The other night the local mental health place decided to break into our 86 year old mother’s house, in our absence and in spite of our emphatic, joint refusal over the telephone, and inform us they are going to Section her to a hospital miles and miles away, since a bed happens to have become available. She has dementia, with complications. They are going to take her from the house she has owned and lived in since 1955 and cart her off to a mental hospital despite the fact that we had just found a dementia care home where we hoped she might be happy, and had interviews fixed for tomorrow morning to move things forward. Having once been Sectioned it seems unlikely that she will be given a place in that home. We are not even sure if she will be let out of the hospital. Apparently neither we nor she have any legal rights.
Now we are waiting – just waiting – to find out what they have done with her. They just need another doctor to concur, and presumably that’s a given. I couldn’t cope with going over there today – Mother’s Day in the UK – in case the house was already empty – or in case the whole pack of them arrived while I was there and I set upon and killed one of them. Violence wells up in me every time the thought recycles itself in my mind. I really feel I might, actually, attack somebody. Maybe Mum and me will end up sharing the same ward.
My (English) sister is better at this sort of stuff. She has the knack, after a little while, of setting her anger aside. It’s out of our hands now, she says; we just have to wait – and of course she’s right. We have no power at all. It feels like rape.
So, what do you do? I know from past experience that this will wear off – even my anger fades, but it can take days or weeks. I wondered what to be doing today, when I should have been visiting her. I seem to have been visiting her every Sunday for the last forty years, with the odd little gap. I had to get up early to take four of the cats to the vet’s for their booster injections. It was an Italian locum-lady, not my friend Stan. She was friendly. I believe she was making jokes but I was kind of missing the point of them, what with the accent and the inevitable sense-of-humour mismatch. And the rage.
What do I do now? I wondered. So after a cup of coffee I loaded up the car with bags of rubbish and drove them to the tip. Had to be done sometime soon. I was so tired I could hardly lift them out of the car. Luckily a burly bin man came to my rescue.
What do I do now?
I watched a bit of a thing on TV about how Star Trek came to be made, but I found I no longer cared about Gene Roddenberry, William Shatner, Mr Spock’s prosthetic ears or why the Starship Enterprise was designed in the particular the way it was. I fell asleep on the sofa, then woke up. Then I recalled a boyfriend I used to have (the same boyfriend who attended a job interview rather drunk on beer, and got the job – which he really didn’t want – anyway). We had both been divorced after long marriages, and compared notes. He told me he’d coped with his subsequent nervous breakdown by (a) completing the Coast to Coast Walk (an epic 192 mile journey that goes from one side of the north of England to the other) and (b) making and freezing huge numbers of curries. I had wondered what that toppling mountain of empty margarine tubs in his kitchen was for.
I couldn’t just pack a rucksack and set off for the north of England, but I did have some vegetables and spare tins of this and that, so I made hot pot. Two hot pots. I had just bought a stack of freezer trays, so I divided the two hot pots between the trays, labelled them and freezer-ed them. I have never frozen anything before. It was just one of those housewifely skills I couldn’t be bothered to acquire. So now I have enough frozen hot pot for eight days, assuming they don’t explode or implode in the freezer.
So what do I do now?
Meanwhile my Canadian sister has been reading a book of healing visualisations while her husband has chemotherapy. She says they are helping her, but he just treats her to his ‘faintly amused’ look every time she tries to persuade him to try them with her. He’s an engineer, a scientist, and she doesn’t think he’ll be able to get his head round such New Age mumbo jumbo. I said maybe he could imagine his body as a motor car engine, and the chemotherapy drugs as… whatever goes round in motor car engines.. engine oil. Maybe he could visualise the nasty, rusty brake fluid being exchanged for nice, new, golden, viscous, wonderful brake fluid… She thinks not.
I’ve got the same book. Maybe I’ll have a go at a visualisation…