Mummy was not the easiest person to deal with in this new situation. She still scolded and fumed at us as if we were kids, not women in our late fifties. And, of course, Denis really got it, but he was still good natured and determined to cope in these early days, expecting that her tongue lashings were only part of her feeling of frustration and helplessness. There was nothing to do but acknowledge her imperious eldership as we always had. And once, during a terrible clean up accident she insisted on taking all the blame and responsibility by trying hard to help herself. Speech, emotional communication, whether angry or happy is almost the only power left to bedridden people.
She very soon, though, could do almost nothing for herself and rapidly declined into dependency for most physical and emotional needs. She had to be sponged daily, a very wet towel and some suds helped keep her hair and scalp clean. Powdering and moisturising helped with her skin’s psoriasis problem as well as kept her sweet-smelling. Figuring out the use of discardable things like newspapers, cotton wool and cloth wipes made from old clothes to assist in clean up processes – every day and every difficulty brought on a new idea of how to manage. It didn’t take long to get used to, if still to dislike, cleaning bedpans and sometimes vomit. Her digestion suffered for eating in bed and getting no exercise.
In time the thigh fracture healed. Only, it left her leg a good four inches shorter than the other and it became quite a nightmare to think of how she would use the walker. It meant full assistance with this as her sense of balance was completely skewed with her limbs mismatched. Now however, she could be helped into the bathroom for showers and even though it was a task in itself, made everyone feel better about the fact that she was moving about, even if it meant two people on either side of her, propping her up, but her weight would mostly fall directly on the walker.
All the same, she wasn’t getting enough exercise to keep her system functioning smoothly and regularly. Suppositories and laxatives were ghastly and are not helpful in the long run so the next most important thing became to work out a healthy, fibre filled diet for her. This regimen carried on till quite recently, when she started refusing to eat solid food. But we can come to that later.