Saturday, 29 July 2017

The Trip and After

I love summer mornings. If I could sustain the practice, I'd get up every spring or summer morning at 5 AM. Even the sunshine seems quieter at 5 AM.

My trip to DC and Virginia was both pleasant and interesting. I had an hour's stopover in Dublin, which was more interesting than pleasant. The USA has commandeered a chunk of Dublin airport as a de facto "border", so travellers to the USA through Dublin go through a series of technologically complex checks overseen by young American officials.

I found this confusing and unnerving, so hopefully America's enemies find it confusing and unnerving, too. For example, I was asked if that was my checked luggage in front of my interrogator's workstation.  I was bewildered, for surely my checked luggage was, you know, checked in and in transit. My interrogator--a highly professional-sounding Asian-American--kept repeating the same question until I noticed the screen on the front of her podium showing a televised image of my big backpack--or two thirds of it anyway, since it wasn't completely in shot.

Going through the American Sector of Dublin Airport meant that I didn't have to go through customs when I got to Dulles Airport, so all I had to do was wait for my famous checked luggage and the complementary drive to the Hilton.  It was 90 degrees Fahrenheit by the pick-up point.

The big event at the Hilton was the LifeSiteNews 20th Anniversary Gala, and I enjoyed meeting all the other LSN people very much. I speak to many of these people every work day, so it was neat to see them in person. And for the next three days, it was great to see them again at meetings and meals. As usual I had extreme jet lag, so I got up at 5 AM and found a sunny outdoor spot in which to drink coffee and work on Polish grammar exercises.

My mother usually spends July in Scotland, so while I was away, she kept my husband company and opened the door to the parade of friends who brought meals. Despite the warnings of nurses not to do this, B.A. has spent most of his time lying flat in bed for three and a half weeks, getting up to have supper in the dining-room.

Now here is my terrible confession: since I spend eight hours a day wrestling with news stories--contacting people for quotes, trying to use online information without plagiarising online sources--it has been easier just to leave B.A. in bed where he wants to be anyway. How much personal autonomy B.A. actually has is an open question. His vocabulary is fine, and he has no trouble arguing. Doctors speak to him as if he were completely compos mentis, respecting his wishes even to the point of asking him if he minds if I am there while they talk to him. Clearly he is not a 12 year old boy to be ordered around.  If B.A. wants to lie in bed all day hugging a radio, who am I to judge, eh?

And meanwhile--worse confession--if I have spare time before I start work, I want to spend it (preferably in a cafe) with a coffee studying languages, not talking to B.A., whose conversational range is extremely limited right now.

I was home on Monday, horribly jet-lagged. I was up early on Tuesday, putting my mother on the train to Glasgow as she made her way back to Canada. I wrote all Tuesday. Then I was up early on Wednesday: another day of news writing. Then on Thursday all my efforts to work conscientiously from 11 to 7 (or thereabouts) came to a crashing halt when B.A. turned his head on his pillow and I saw he had a bedsore on his ear.

It has been a long time since I cried. I cried. Apparently he started the sore on Thursday, the day I left. It took me three days to see it. THREE DAYS.

"Don't cry, darling," said B.A. "I get them there all the time."

Apparently B.A. has super-sensitive ear lobes that chafe against any old harder pillow, let alone an ergonomic one. But that wasn't much consolation as I pawed through papers looking for his surgeon's phone number. The surgeon is on holiday (the number one obsession of every working person in the UK: holidays), but I did talk to a GP and to my sister-in-law in Canada, who is a medical doctor herself. That was more or less it for my work output that day.

Perhaps it was the shock of my shock that made B.A. less resistant to having a bath. He doesn't like baths because the porcelein tub hurts his bones, and he is afraid that the shower will wash away the dressing on his head wound. This time I put a bath towel down in the tub so he could sit on that, and before he got in, I checked him all over for any other bedsores. Thank heavens, he didn't have any.

But I also put him on the scale, which I hadn't done for at least a week, and was horrified yet again. B.A. now weighs less than the average British 14 year old.  On Friday morning, a GP from the local medical centre arrived and suggested B.A. take only half of the rather aggressive drug he's been taking for a month.

Then there was an Illustrative Incident. After seeing that B.A's bedsore was (as I feared) infected, the doctor began to write a prescription for penicillin.  Worried--since if B.A. loses any more weight he will have to go on a drip--I asked if penicillin wouldn't make B.A. feel too sick to eat. The doctor thought about that and then wrote a prescription for a topical cream instead. So no disrespect meant to our GPs (who are very kindly people), but even they are not infallible, and clearly I have take more responsibility for my husband's recovery myself.

That was it for Friday's journalism day. I spent most of it talking to B.A., cajoling him out of bed, taking him for a walk (more cajoling necessary), settling him in a CHAIR to watch documentaries, and watching him eat his meals.

And that was quite okay with LSN, because-as you might hope in a leading pro-life, pro-family organisation--LSN puts family first.


  1. Good for you! What you are doing is extremely hard work and I applaud your dedication. In my experience most medical anything takes a lot of supervision, as you (and the patient) have more of the relevant personal information to hand than any of the very busy medical staff. Say a prayer for me if you think of it, my husband started divorce proceedings, we have 3 kids youngest is 2 months, because he is miserable (health issues) and needs someone to blame.

    1. Thank you! As for your husband, I hope he stops walking down that path. It seems like a crazy thing for a guy with health issues to do. Our circumstances are such that B.A. would be in really big trouble if he weren't married.

  2. Dear Dorothy,
    So glad to see your column again! It was good for you to get to DC for the conference. Still saying prayers for you and your dear husband. He definitely needs to get up every day, put regular clothes on, and perhaps sit in a chair but for this you must get outside help. Is it possible? You absolutely cannot do more and (after having taken care of my parents and various very elderly aunts), patients respond better to OUTSIDE help. In America we had hospice, the Dominican sisters, and we also hired a night nurse and physical therapists. Are there any church agencies or friends who could help? I'll put it on the prayer list! (also - this may sound silly but sometimes some of my friends' suggestions really helped) - BA needs to gain some weight - is chocolate possible? (would he eat it? it does have caffeine) It's good for the heart and changing one's mood to happy! Ice cream? (the pure cream type) Anyhow - prayer can do wonders and I'll step it up for you two -God bless you and keep you both! xxx

    1. Thank you! Regular clothes...? You mean like...trousers? Shirt? Pullover? SOCKS? Maybe next week...

      I have been thinking about hiring a nurse for an hour a day, actually. Such are the joys of a two-tier system: you don't HAVE to rely on the state 24/7.

      Chocolate is a good idea. I'll try it. B.A. has ice-cream very often: it is the star ingredient in his morning breakfast strawberry milkshake. Today was pineapple-coconut smoothie day, and he had a small avocado and a multivitamin for lunch. (The multivitamin is today's innovation.)

  3. Do take care of yourself too. All kinds of stats show that the caregiver can suffer a real toll on his/her health if s/he isn't careful, and you getting sick certainly is no help to BA. Think of the airplane safety instructions to put on your own oxygen mask first, then help the one you're traveling with. With prayers for BA to make a full recovery.

  4. Don't forget the hot cherry strudel to fatten BA up! And I'm praying you find a nice helper/aide to get BA up, dressed, and a tiny bit of physical therapy!(Somebody else besides YOU) Also: speaking as a clean fanatic: a washcloth and a bowl of hot soapy water can clean you just as well if not better than a full tub bath- just a thought) ANYWAY NO MORE ADVICE! YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB AND WE ARE PRAYING FOR YOU BOTH EVERY DAY!