Tuesday, 29 April 2008

It gets Personal

It is amazing the number of people who become involved in your life when you are disabled. You have care agencies, the wheelchair service, district nurses, G.P.`s, occupational therapists, social workers, and a plethora of carers. That's not to mention the engineers who pop in to maintain equipment such as hoists, ventilators and wheelchairs, or the specialist doctors at places like the Royal Brompton Hospital. I know I am fortunate to live in an area where services have not been pared to the bone, but at times it can be a little intrusive.

A couple of weeks ago, at the height of the Chickenpox plague, Tina, the district nurse came to call. She was armed with a lengthy form which she warned us was a pretty intimate affair. Apparently it was to decide whether I come under social care or nursing care. This is important (to them) because it determines whose budget my 'care package' comes out of. It also determines what services are available to me.

The first few questions were innocuous enough: basic information about the nature and extent of my disability, morning and evening routines and so on. But as we progressed ever deeper in to this extensive and free roaming assessment form the questions became more and more intimate and personal. The extent to which I could wash myself, help needed in the shower and how long transfers take. By the time we got on to continence issues I was beginning to glance nervously at Polly. Was I catheterised? Did I want to be? There then followed a distressingly frank account of how such things would impact on our sex life. By this time Polly was busy examining cracks in the ceiling and I was calculating Pi to 13 decimal places. The final straw came, when with a perfectly straight face and with the true detachment of the health professional, she asked, “and how big is your Willy?”

Later, after Tina had gone, Polly looked me straight in the eye and asked, “so on a scale of One to Ten, just how excruciating was that?”

Yesterday, we were told, there had been a case conference about me. It had finally been decided that I had moved from social care over to nursing care. Heaven knows on which criteria they based their decision.