Media likes to promote the idea the intimate relationships can easily be maintained into the later years. I am of the opinion that a twenty something writing about the physical life of elders has no understanding of the logistics involved.
For example, simply sleeping close together in bed.
I am usually asleep before night owl Mr FD comes to bed. Now that it is winter, he is naturally drawn to my warmed side of the mattress. We have been married too long for me to entertain the illusion that it is anything more than the need for comfort that draws him neigh!
Now this is where the problems arise. I prefer to sleep on my left side, facing towards the edge of the bed. Mr FD draws near, but to borrow a quote he has a “belly like a bowl full of jelly” so while his top half might align well, his tummy pushes my spin out of its comfort zone. So even if asleep, I awaken and some realignment takes place to find a comfort zone.
Further issues are that my neck issues mean I need a certain amount of pillow to support my neck, the rotator cuff injury results in a limited number of positions for my right arm unless I want to experience pain. I often have to sleep with a small pillow under my right arm.
Add to this the fact that Mr FD wears a CPAP mask and we not only have to make placement for the mask, but the hissing in my ear makes me feel as though I am lying down beside Darth Vader. He also suffers from restless leg syndrome so will move randomly from moment to moment. It is not just legs though – his hand twitches, and he can have a whole body “jump” as well.
So, after ten or more minutes of grumping and annoyance we finally settle into some form of mutually acceptable comfort and settle to sleep. Mr FD usually disregards my death threats, because he is just that type of guy – senseless.
Five minutes later I am so hot from Mr FD’s extra body heat I have to throw back the blankets and order Mr FD to his side of the bed. A number of death threats have to accompany this request before Mr FD rolls to the cold side of the bed.
Right, romance all the way.
Some poor surfer guy has died after being mauled by a shark, and the usual platitude one hears “oh but at least he died doing what he loved!” has been uttered again. As if!
Do you really think he is standing outside the pearly gates, thanking the Big Whatever for cutting his life short by at least 7 decades but at least letting him go while do something he really enjoyed? Do you think he enjoyed the moment the shark ate his leg? I am not thinking his last thoughts were that he was really glad he got out of bed that morning and went down to the water.
Mr FD used to have this annoying habit when he heard some old person died he would say “Well, at least he had a good innings.” I beg your pardon? I let it go by for a decade or two, but one day I turned to Mr FD and I said that if he didn’t stop saying that pathetic and inadequate phrase that I would make sure that the day he is told his days are numbered that I was going to pat him on the hand and utter “well, you’ve had a good innings, dear” Now push off.
Then I added that I would feed him to the dog.
Now his stock comment is “Oh dear, that is too young to die.”
He is obviously hoping I don’t kill anytime soon.
Mr FD talked about making breakfast, but I made breakfast.
Mr FD talked about making dinner, but I made breakfast.
Mr FD talked about the pact we had that he would do all the cooking on Father’s Day.
I don’t remember any pact…and I am not holding my breath.
He does however, get to do the dishwasher.
Just before dawn, a sleeping Mr FD announced mournfully, “I don’t have any wings left.”
Had he used up his personal supply of wings?
Was he retailing them and had a sudden rush on wings?
Had the fairies called and found his cupboard bare?
Another one of life’s mysteries.
Mr FD found his way home on Thursday night, after a three week absence. He was so happy to be home. As I made tea for two in the kitchen I heard Mr FR declaring,”I missed you so much, you are so beautiful, so wonderful…”
Entering the room I found that he was gazing lovingly into the big brown eyes of Augie Dog, who was lapping up every second. So much so, that when Mr FD paused stroking him, Augie Dog would turn and lick what ever exposed bits of Mr FD he could reach.
I placed the mug of tea next to Mr FD and allowed them their privacy.
I don’t think I can keep this home nursing thing up. It has been two days and already I am totally exhausted by caring and being nice.
Mr FD is all very polite about it, and grateful for what I do, but all the needy stuff is really wearing out my small reserves of niceness.
Medication at this time and that time. And the pressure stockings are irritating the skin on his leg so I have to rub moisturiser into his leg. It doesn’t help to see that he has less hair on his legs that I do on mine either. Then again he has a hairy back and I don’t.
Augie Dog knows Mr FD is hurting to and is trying to be very gentle around Mr FD. He was out in his yard, peeing, (Augie, not Mr FD) and Mr FD said, “It is wonderful coming home to a dog like that. I am so glad we got him.” and I wondered if he thought the same about me and would I need to go pee in the yard to get him to say it.
I don’t pee in the yard. I could, because we have lots of trees for privacy, but no doubt a delivery man or meter reader would arrive at the door as I did. And it might kill the grass, because Augie’s pee does. I don’t think I have peed in the yard since I was a toddler, if I did even then. It was a civilised upbringing.
The pretty face wallaby waiting on the neighbouring footpath was all Mr FD needed to convince him that he had left the city behind and was finally home , two and a half weeks post knee replacement.
Son had to take Augie Dog onto the patio until Mr FD made it safely to a chair, because an excited 40 kg golden retriever dog jumping for joy around him, was not something Mr FD on crutches could cope with.
Mr FD’s “self medication” is in fact moi handing out his tablets! Each time I do so, I call out “never marry an older man, you just end up being his nurse!” (Mr FD is eight years older than I). He ignores me, Son ignores me, even Augie ignores me. I think I am very entertaining, and that is all that matters.
I repeated the comment as I pulled Mr FD’s pressure stocking up his legs this morning. This time, Mr FD apologised for all the “trouble” he was causing.
Good to have him home and suffering guilt again.
If you were wondering; and if you weren’t, you should have been, about Mr FD. He is now in rehab of the knee kind, not the drug or alcohol kind and progressing fairly well. The doctor is predicting about another week of rehabilitation before Mr FD is allowed home.
He is still in pain, more severe at night which is expected. Daily, he undertakes two long sessions of physiotherapy, so he is progressing well. However, almost daily there is some mix up with his medication. Son wondered the other day if someone is purposely shortchanging Mr FD on the pain relief and pocketing half.
The rehab building is very run down. It is a private hospital and no doubt is paid a fortune for their services by our medical insurer, but I don’t think the money is going on the facilities. It is a catholic institution so perhaps the money is going to pay for all those paedophilia law suits! Sadly, there seems to be an ever growing number of paedophilia victims – even victims of former British Prime Ministers!
The hospital has an aged care wing, and independent living units adjoining, and I keep threatening Mr FD with rolling him over into either as he is now officially a senior. Some days, he looks as though he is ready to accept!
So, it seems I shall also be maintaining my crazy schedule of burning up and down the freeway, between home, the school 40 minutes away, and then onto the city after school to visit Mr FD. It means an hour of driving to return home every night. Next time elective surgery is required, I am going to make sure Mr FD undergoes the knife during school holidays. At least one of us should have an easier time, and naturally it should be me!
Every night, Augie Dog sleeps on the floor beside my side of the bed. My side of the bed is also the far side from the bathroom. Should the need arise to travel to the bathroom during the night, I have to negotiate around a 40kg dog sprawling between bed and wall, his head often tucked under the bed. His head is the only part of him that will fit under our bed these days. In his “younger days” Augie would climb under our bed every night. Now, like Clifford the Big Red Dog, our bed would balance on top of Augie if he attempted to climb under, I am sure!
Having to perform a balancing tip toe routine while endeavouring to make a fast trip to the loo is quite an acrobatic trip some nights.
It was only last night, the fourth night of Mr FD’s absence, that I realised that I really didn’t have to perform the routine, for I can actually just roll to Mr FD’s side of our bed and rise to my feet like the goddess that I am. Yes, a bit slow on the uptake, but I argue that I am running on near empty these days!
No skirting dog bits, or furniture; just a clear seven or eight steps to the bathroom. I never realised how easy he has it!
Maybe I should move the furniture while he is absent, to provide us with an equal opportunity for injury obstacle course to the bathroom, though I fear it just may lead me to having to visit Mr FD in hospital on a regular basis. He hasn’t seen his toes since 1989 and is prone to kicking them on corners of walls and furniture, so maybe, for my own sake, I should leave well alone. I guess the floor routine is keeping me flexible and agile!
You win some, you lose some.
Climbing into bed, Mr FD looked at me and said, “To think, I still get excited sleeping next to old, decrepit you.”
“I am not decrepit,” I retorted.
“I am not decrepit… well, maybe I am. I am not old, though.”
“I am middle aged, not old.”
“So, I am beautifully old and decrepit? How is any of that meant to be a compliment?” I asked.
“I have a headache.”