It took awhile to get our team together and functioning well, with some false starts and some unsuccessful team members, and funny experiences, but we got it all going some time ago and we love our present helpers who are proverbially worth their weight in gold. Slowly but surely everything settled down to an orderly pace.
After we came here, with much help and cooperation from the Air Force and my father’s bank in the village (The State Bank of India), Mummy’s pension (which is usually a portion of the deceased person’s pension, not the full amount), was activated and it is a great help in paying for her carers salaries, for medicines, doctors visits and supplies required for her.
Now that there is a timing and a method to everything and everyone in the house knows what has to be done things function pretty smoothly. For at least the first two years she has been here Mummy was a bit difficult but not so bad that we could not deal with things.
Our meals are similar to what she ate in Brahmanpalli but with less frying, more vegetables, less meat, more dal and beans and healthy stuff like sprouts. She ate lunch with us, whatever we were eating – vegetables, dal, salad, yogurt, chapatti and dessert after. Her vegetable soup has continued up to now and is an invaluable tool for her digestion and nutrition. She liked her soup with buttered toast as well as enjoyed her breakfast oats with banana and other fruits. Earlier she did not like eggs and believed she had an allergy to egg yolk.
Her day starts early. Whoever is staying with her at night wakes at dawn (it seems to me) and the trundle bed is pushed under. She is woken up and teeth brushed and freshened up. Then she is alone for an hour or two – this being a time of day required by the helpers Sharda and Lakshmi, to attend to what is required for their own daily routines, making dabbas (packed lunches) for their family members going to work or school and cleaning homes, having a fresh bath and then setting out to work themselves. I peep in from time to time, to see that she is asleep and sometimes quite wide awake and she will call me Deborah, what are you doing? Sometimes she needs water because of a coughing fit, (maybe because of being prone so much).
Some days, though rarely, she does not want meals and fusses a lot. Then she is coaxed, cajoled, asked to cooperate and finally accepts what is being offered.. She finishes her oatmeal and banana while seated in her wheelchair and might have some other fruit after. Then she sits a bit more, when it is cool, to get some sun, but not at this uncomfortable part of the year. After her daily bath and especially when she’s had a shampoo she is extra relaxed because after being helped into bed she sleeps very well for an hour or so. Then its free time till lunch for the carers and some chatting and tea drinking go on in her room which she has always liked and finds comforting. She gets a peaceful look on her face if people chat in her room.
Lunch means some more sitting, we try to increase her sitting up but she does not favour it too much, though she can sit for up to three hours. The lady on duty will pull out the bed and have her afternoon nap while my mother will lie quietly. When she is extra wakeful she calls out questions or asks for water. In these summer months nearly every flat in the vicinity is shut down for a rest because the days are long and hot. By eleven in the morning I will have shut the windows and drawn the curtains to keep out warm air and to make it feel dark and cool. Everyone in the house relaxes or sleeps but I am usually on the computer.
At five Uday will appear and make tea for himself and whoever wants and Complan for Mummy. She has it with something to munch, biscuits, or cake. I have tried successfully to make banana/yogurt/chocolate chip cake, carrot cake and sweet potato cake – some with eggs, some without.
We have our Scrabble board game and then I rush out for my walk around the building after which it is fun to sit with friends in the evening and shoot the breeze.
Mummy’s dinner follows which presently has to be really varied or she fusses and fusses. She has started liking scrambled eggs with toast, or a tuna fish sandwich or French toast. Some more sitting in the wheelchair and then its bed and TV till sleep intrudes.
So that’s Mummy’s typical day.
All this while and for most of these activities she is helped and cared for (with some help from us in propping her on the walker) by Sharada and Lakshmi. They pour affection on her and feel a strong sense of responsibility towards her.as well. I will write much more about them later and add photos too. They will definitely be in their favourite and beautiful saris.