Whale’s Ways

“Oh b****r Vero!” I heard this morning as I was getting the newspaper out of the letter box.

The nurse had just been and it sounded as though she’d done something terrible.

“What is it?” I asked Whale.

“Vero’s left my water out of reach.” he complained.

Anywhere he goes he cannot bear to be separated from his bottle of water and plastic cup. Not even for the fifteen minutes or so it takes to clean his bedroom. It’s the same old ritual. He moves into the next room but wants you to bring his book, his glasses, his water and his cup. Anyone would think he was going to die of thirst!

Usually I can make light of the peculiarities of life in our household but, of late, a rather more serious note is creeping in:

Whale seems to be much more irritating and I’m becoming more and more irritable with him.

This makes me feel guilty because he doesn’t do it deliberately and, after all, he doesn’t lead a very interesting life. He’s handicapped, rarely goes out and the rest of the family don’t  have alot to say to him.

He can no longer stand up without help so, as he gets uncomfortable in the same place for more than a couple of hours, he is constantly calling out. Even if he can see that I’m in the middle of preparing a meal or washing up he still wants to ‘borrow a foot’ to get into his wheelchair or go back to bed.

So he’s a lonely prisoner.     But a very annoying one!

Of course, he can’t be expected to realise that I’ve only just sat down with a cup of coffee when he calls out for something that isn’t urgent.

As far as he’s concerned, if I’m busy on the computer, i’m not doing anything important or interesting and therefore I’m fair game to be approached  to provide a translation for whatever he’s silently rehearsing to say to the nurse/doctor/physio – or to drop everything and see if he has an email.

Needless to say, he does have problems but he tends to make a great deal of fuss over minor things. Take his ‘brown spots’ for example. He plagued the doctor until she gave him a letter to see the dermatologist. A visit to Dr. R is a major problem because his surgery has three steps at the entrance. We tried to take him in his wheelchair but couldn’t manoeuvre him inside (he weighs a good 100kilos). That appointment had to be cancelled and we tried again via ambulance. We don’t actually have to pay for this transport but it costs well over 100 euros and it is a bit of a waste just to remove  a few warts for purely cosmetic reasons. The dermatologit assured him there was nothing malignant but he’s still clamouring to go back and see him again because he has found some more warts.

He has succeeded in annoying the nurses, the physios and  the ambulance men and even our GP is losing patience with him. 

Last night, as I was doing the ‘bedtime chores’ he said wistfully,

“I haven’t seen much of Jay and CC. They don’t come and talk to me any more.”

I made a mental note to try to be more patient – but it ain’t easy. . . . .

14 Responses to “Whale’s Ways”

  1. lilalia Says:

    Do you remember when the children were small and irritable? It was hard to say, perk up, or stop complaining. Instead, we put them to bed for a nap. Who would have thought that those were the good days? It is hard when the child grows into an adult and still doesn’t realise that no one really wants to be around a cranky person. You have all my sympathy, but I really don’t know what you can do to change your reaction, nor his grumpiness. Do tell me if you do find a means. My husband is (relatively) young, but already as grumpy as can be.

  2. Pat Says:

    I do understand and sympathise. I have in MTL a stoic and yet I still get impatient sometimes when I am rushing round and he gets in my way (he’s nearly twice my size). What I’m trying to say is with all you have to contend with you are saint -like most of the time. I think it would be great if all the family could have a chat and agree that you should have some respite from time to time. Ask them how they would feel if you were not there all the time and would it not be better for you to have the odd little break when you can recharge your batteries.
    What do you think? Go on – give it a try.

  3. Z Says:

    I completely sympathise and I think Pat’s advice is very good, if you feel able to take it.

    A suggestion from me – when you’re about to sit down with that coffee, go to him and cheerfully ask him if there’s anything he needs before you sit down for a break. If he feels he’s being put first, he might be less irritable, and if you’ve offered it won’t be annoying to fetch what he wants.

    I used to try, with my mother, and when I’d been particularly attentive and patient, I got “There, you can be so nice when you want to. Why aren’t you like this all the time?” I couldn’t say, because I haven’t time to, but it was an effort.

  4. Little old me Says:

    I agree with Z and Pat. Can whale see? How about getting him to do a blog, we could all have a little chat with him, he get get all his moans out, you never know it might make him feel better. He might get on well with Keith. HA Ha

  5. BearNaked Says:

    Z and Pat have some wonderful ideas.
    I too think that you need to get away (for even a short break) for some
    *ME* time.

  6. sablonneuse Says:

    Thank you all for your supportive comments.

    lilalia: I’ll let you know if I find a way of coping short of strangling one or both of them!

    Pat: A break would be lovely but it could be difficult to get away without Bear wanting to tag along. Our last holiday was a disaster but what would he do if I went away without him? I wouldn’t want to leave CC and Jay in charge with him grumping about the house.

    Z: Perhaps if I were to make it clear when I’m about to sit down it might sink in but usually when I make a coffee I give Whale a cup of tea as well.

    LOM: Whale has a computer (not connected to the internet) because he is writing a novel. Unfortunately he is having problems realising that it does not work like a typewriter. He still hasn’t mastered editing at all and our hearts sink when he switches it on because we know we’re going to be called upon to bail him out several times per session. I reckon a blog would drive is all mad – but, under normal circumstances it would be a lovely idea.

    BN: Yes, a little visit to my friends in Lyon or Athens would be a treat – but . . . . . .

  7. Susie Vereker Says:

    I agree with the above advice and do sympathise most strongly. Since the French are so good on social security, isn’t there some way they would pay for either you to have a break or one of your charges to have a break away from the family? Can you discuss this with the doctor, on the grounds that it would be in no one’s interest were you to break down. I simply don’t know how you cope. Though I was patient with my children and my mother (mostly!), I fear I would be short-tempered and disagreeable with such demanding old men. My heart goes out to you. Perhaps your children could cope for a short time – they are probably tougher than you think.

  8. millie garfield Says:

    You deserve a HUGE medal for all that you do and cope with. Your children need to help their mother before she becomes ill.

    When I was having difficulty taking care of my sister-in-law (and she was tough) – I spoke to her doctor and he had a “sit down” with her. Fortunately she took the talk seriously and began to shape up – from then on it was better for both of us.

    I hope somehow things get better for you.

  9. sablonneuse Says:

    Susie and Millie: ‘respite care’ doesn’t seem to feature in France. I do get 8 hours a month help with housework thanks to Whale’s disability and Jay has 20 hours a week to provide ‘company’. This is partly paid for by the ‘authorities’ but we do have to contribute half.
    Back in England when Jay was looking after Whale he was taken into a wonderful ‘private’ hospital for one week every six weeks and he went for daycare once a week at a hospice but there is nowhere like that near us. Whale stayed in a carehome in France for a fortnight when we moved house and he hated it. They were also very ‘iffy’ about taking him in at all, and we had to pay the whole cost.
    Of course, even if he did go away for a ‘holiday’ there would still be Bear to consider. My ideal would be to go away on my own or with Jay and CC but Bear couldn’t be trusted to take care of himself and the cats. I don’t think I could relax.

  10. Susie Vereker Says:

    Well then, could you afford a carer for them both for a week? I suppose it is difficult to find an English/French speaking one. It would have to be somebody you know about, rather than a stranger as otherwise you wouldn’t be able to relax as you say.

  11. Sophie Says:

    Sandy you are so patient!
    It is sad for the Whale as he must be bored out of his brains but at the same time it would be could if he realized he’s very demanding…

  12. Keith Says:

    After reading the above perhaps it is just as well I didn’t call to see you this week! You seem to have your hands pretty full without entertaining visitors!

    Keith, believe me, visitors are a blessed relief!

  13. Richard Says:

    Gosh Sandy, what a hectic life you have. And I think mine is hard enough just with the kid’s social lives etc! It’s a wonder you find time to blog at all 🙂

    Blogging is very good for letting off steam and reducing stress levels, Richard.

  14. guyana gyal Says:

    One day, I will tell you about the time my mother played deaf. It worked for a while, her playing deaf. 🙂

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