Saturday, 14 June 2008

Take a Breath

Let me tell you about yesterday. If you have been reading this blog for any length of time you will know that we are in the process of changing to a new care agency (see 'High Anxiety' for example). High Heels has returned to the office and I've not seen her again. Shy Girl, on the other hand, has returned time and again. Much good it's done me. For the first week I barely made eye contact and although she watched the transfer process a few times she didn't get 'hands on' at any point. Eventually she did talk to me, and then she barely stopped talking. Not helping, talking. Meanwhile, Carer number 2 arrives, let's call her Can't Do. Can't Do turns out to be well experienced and capable. But as you will have guessed from her appellation there were things she was unhappy to help with. Hoisting, for example. She had not been given specific permission to use the hoist by her office. She also had a bad back, so some of the tugging and pushing involved was beyond her. She also seemed to be at loggerheads with our regular carers. Can't Do couldn't do and has therefore left the building.


Enter Calepo. Calepo, his real name, is a really nice guy. The only trouble is he has no experience. Until recently he had been a factory worker. He is keen to learn and will, I'm sure, very quickly be an excellent carer. Frankly it has been a relief to see him. And besides, how can you not like someone who asks “Are you happy Mr Stephen?” Calepo not only comes in the morning but also turned up on Friday evening. He arrived arrived with a guy called Christian. Christian is fantastic. He is experienced, friendly and quick to learn. It's a pity he doesn't work mornings.


Anyway, back to yesterday. During the afternoon I was having a minor problem catching my breath and so spent an hour on the ventilator. No big deal, it happens occasionally. Later, as the carers arrived to put me to bed, I was beginning to feel woozy and my lungs were getting bubbly. No problem, I'd be in bed shortly. There were four carers, two from the new agency and two from our current team to demonstrate the correct procedure again. Unfortunately the current carers had rarely been to us before, and never in the evening. So there we all were, four carers and me, in the bathroom, with me dangling above the loo being swung back and forth as people poked hopefully at the controller. Suddenly things became very weird.(well weirder than me swinging above the toilet in a sling with four people looking on.) I couldn't focus and I was becoming confused. As I swung helplessly around I found that I couldn't form the words to issue instructions. As the carers pushed and pulled and lowered and raised me I found myself fading in and out. At long last they got me in approximately the right position, but try as I might I couldn't balance. People pushed, pulled and held me up, but it was no good. I was all floppy. I managed to gasp, “Call Polly.” “What?” they asked. 'Polly,” I mumbled. “What's he saying?” “I don't know. Why don't we call Polly.”


Polly came running in, took one look at me and ushered everyone out. She hoisted me back on to the wheelchair and guided me back to the living room. “He's got Oxygen deprivation,” she explained, slapping a mask on my face. Everyone watched anxiously as I regained my senses. I did of course. The bubbles in my lungs were eventually cleared enough for me to get to bed and on the ventilator. Four carers and Polly did most of the work.


In the morning Calepo and Shy Girl were back along with Jerry one of our regular carers Jerry has been coming to us for a couple of years and is fiercely protective of his clients. Calepo he rates as a good carer in the making but of Shy Girl he despairs. This morning was the final straw. Shy Girl has been coming for two weeks but once again she was no where to be seen. Calepo and Jerry were still helping me wash when she announced she had to leave. Jerry was furious. “How is she meant to learn? She is never here. She never even watches.” Polly agreed. We rang the agency. It was then that we learned that social services had decided that the hand over had gone on long enough and that Jerry would not be coming on Monday. Shy Girl will be the senior carer next week. The office say they'll send new carers starting at the end of next week. We've had so many strangers turning up on our doorstep recently it won't be long before Polly mistakenly invites a couple of Jehovah`s Witnesses in to give me a shower.


“Don't worry,” the nice lady from social services once told us. “You'll be going to one of our specialist care agencies. They'll be very experienced..” God help anyone transferring to a non-specialist agency.