My parents had a couple of visitors yesterday morning. So I saw this as a little test to see how they would cope. When I got there in the afternoon, my Dad seemed more confused than the day before. I see this often after he’s had visitors. He finds it hard work, the listening and not being able to process properly. Post stroke fatigue is the most important thing to consider for a patient and their family. In all the literature provided by the hospital, it says that a stroke patient can have the need to sleep up to 14 hours per day. It has always been my concern that Dad is unable to do so, with the demands of Mum. I’ve got a parent in desperate need of sleep, and a parent in desperate need of a good run at Honiton Bottom field! Dad needs calm and rest. Mum needs activities and busy, busy.
I’d only been in the house five minutes, when my Mum asked me if Red One had contacted me regarding her driving appeal. (I knew my Evie walk to theirs was a slow one for a reason…..putting off the inevitable!). She then went on to say that she had phoned the company four times that day to speak to the lady in charge of test appointments, but the lady hadn’t yet called back. Deep breath, Soph, deep breath. I began telling her that the said lady had contacted me and explained how an appeal would have to be with the permission of a GP. Raging inferno alert! … It all came out; the raised squeal, the erratic hand gestures, the pointing finger. The words “ridiculous” and “unfair” were used over and over again to support her explosion. Dad just looked completely exhausted, he’s totally fed up with this Fit to Drive thing, as am I.
After the temper began to dwindle, she then said she’d had a phone call yesterday. As their GP is now on annual leave, a GP phoned on his behalf. The temper started to build momentum again. She started telling me how this Dr had told her that they were making the decision on behalf of her GP, and with the evidence provided, they were not allowing an appeal. I’m unsure as to when this call took place, as I spent most the day on Monday with them, but also, why she’d not phoned me screaming about it afterwards. “This Dr said there will be NO appeal I’m afraid, Mary.” I explained that this had to be the case, that the GP had the final say over a retest… “Well it’s RIDICULOUS!! After all these years of not causing one accident, Mary is binned, binned, binned!!!! Thank you for all your driving years, Mary. Now THAT’S IT!!” My confused and exhausted Dad stood up and asked if we could take the dog out for a walk. Good move, Dad, good move.
Mum was still going on about it on the walk, but I just tried to keep changing the subject. She then told me that I must never mention TRIP again. (I get the impression that Mum is not a fan of TRIP!). During the walk, we bumped into someone we’ve all known for years. She asked how we were. We all said “okay” ….. ‘Okay’ can mean so many things can’t it?; Okay, but could be better. Okay, life’s great, but I don’t want to rub it in. Okay, I’m not prepared to say anymore. Okay, I’m lying, things are terrible, but I’m trying to be positive. She could see right through us, as she was looking at my lost, frail Dad. She said “Come on, Derek, what’s up?” I’ll keep her nameless, but she’s such a lovely person, I’ve always thought she’s one of life’s gems. Dad just replied that things hadn’t been “too easy” lately (Understatement, Dad!). I explained that Dad had had an acute stroke. She said, as so many people have said throughout, “No, Derek, not you?.” I think this shock comes from the fact he has always been so active, both mentally and physically.
Since Dad’s Stoke, the damage to his brain has been quite significant. His sequencing and ordering are completely muddled. The hardest thing, from my perspective, is that he’s now unable to write clearly and read things in the appropriate order. This is a man who has spent his life writing daily diaries, reading vast amounts of books and constantly keeping his brain active. It’s totally crushing that my Dad is now unable to make sense of a 7 day diary page. He just can’t order the days. It’s heartbreaking for me, so I can only imagine how it is for my Dad. His concept of time is damaged too. We’ve got his Consultant from the stroke unit coming for a home visit on Thursday. Dad keeps saying that at 11.30am, this seems an “early visit.” My parents have always been early risers, so they’ll have been up 5 hours before his “early visit”.
I have noticed that my Dad really relaxes when he sees me sat down. So, after our walk, I sat on the carpet and got lots of photo albums out. Within a few minutes, my Dad was fast asleep on the sofa. I love seeing my Dad sleep, as I hope, with all I have, that his body is trying to do some sort of rebalancing, restoring and recovery. My Mum started to join me looking at the photographs. It was a lovely, precious time; No mention of driving tests, no mention of loss of independence, no raised voice, no frustration. I treasure these times, and there’s always therapy in photographs. Hattie then arrived through the door as she’d just finished work. So, I was sat with my Mum and my daughter looking over lovely, cherished memories. These moments really are priceless.