It's not much fun being eighty. Or so says Eric. He's just had a spell in hospital. Nothing scary. He thought he'd got a tummy upset, but it turned out to be constipation.
(When you've been bunged up for long enough you get a thing called overflow, which makes it look like you've got diarrhoea-- and that's the last we'll hear on that subject today if it's o.k. with you)
Just before he went in I'd had a visit from Doreen, Eric's neice. She's been looking after him since her aunty, Erics wife, died eight or so years ago. Every day, rain or shine, high days and holidays included, she's been calling on him morning and evening, cooking, cleaning and generally fending for him. She's all the family he's got left, and so it falls to her.
She had called in to say she was getting worried about him. He was a lot more cantakerous than usual, and had taken to stopping in bed for hours on end, refusing to get up. We had agreed that I would find a pretext for calling on him-- just to give him a bit of a check-up. Under no circumstances was I to mention that Doreen had been to see me. Then, the day before the appointed "check-up" visit, he went and got himself admitted.
In the end it's made my job a lot easier. Since he's had this seemingly trivial problem sorted out he's been a lot better, but he still greets Doreen every morning with a cheery "'Wish I was dead!" She's nearing the end of her tether with him and we're going to be needing to find him a lot more support soon, if only to preserve her sanity, so having a pretext to do a review visit on discharge was too good an opportunity to pass up.
Today we've sorted out his med's and he's agreed I can call again to see how he's getting on in a couple of weeks. In her absence he can't sing poor Dorren's praises highly enough-- though I'm sure it's never occurrred to him to actually tell her to her face. She's calling back later in the week to see how I got on, so perhaps I can do it for him-- though I mustn't let on to him that we're talking. He's not quite ready to think about letting anybody else in, but if Doreen can be persuaded that she could start letting him know it's time for her to pass the baton on, he just might be. Before she goes to the wall for preference.
It's a complex web to unravel, and none the easier when none of us can articulate half of what's needed, but if we get it right Eric might just be a bit happier to carry on living for a bit yet, and Doreen might even get a chance to start.
Lucky I was "just passing..." Eric's gate this afternoon ;-)