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Saturday 25 March 2023

Nothing sharp in the boot (US - trunk)

I honestly considered cutting my throat.

It’s a lousy way to go, I know, but despair briefly suggested that solution.

Yet those subsequently shuddering at my gory steering wheel would have marvelled at my trivial reasoning.

VR, my wife, is not well but it’s not my prerogative to reveal her private details. Saturday meant the GP would not be available. I was on my way to discuss subsidiary medical matters with the pharmacist about a mile away. I could have walked but I wanted to be back quickly, to keep VR company. I parked, got out, glanced at the back seat. No shoulder bag which held important evidential material. How could I bloody well have forgotten? Perhaps, now, I can be thankful the Skoda’s toolkit doesn’t include a machete or some such.

As I drove back to get the bag my self-anger drained away. The pharmacist was a great help and my brief flirtation with ending it all is now mildly amusing history. But this post is not primarily about illness, it’s about one of the unexpected disadvantages of old age.

I am totally in charge of the house. Providing meals, for instance. In my early sixties I did just that for two years. Now the prospect fills me with dread and I cheat. I’m required to choose clothing for VR; the wardrobe is terra australis incognita and I unhook garments to see whether they’re pullovers, trousers, skirts or long dresses. Small items need transporting from bedroom to living room and back: two dozen return stairway journeys a day because I’m forgetful. The laundry. Following up VR’s emails. Pill regimes.

Fellas who have shared their wife’s responsibilities will sneer. Say I am reaping where I failed to sow. But how many fellas know the three gradations of knickers? 


  1. This seems like a lot. Perhaps you could hire some local help? As for meals, by all means cheat. Whatever makes it easier for both of you. My very best wishes to VR, and to you.

    1. Colette: During the previous two weeks the nature of work has been blurred since my grandson has done all the cooking and much, much more. He's returned home now and I'm trying to work out a routine which will help promote efficiency. More follows

  2. How well I know your feelings having had to care for my late wife for her last two years. My sympathy for you and VR runs genuinely deep and I wish you both well.

    Our GP (a lovely lady) was of great help and put me in touch with a source of daily carers who worked for the area hospices. They couldn't have been more genuinely helpful. They loved their work and their patients and went happily about things, bringing relief for us both.

    Unlike you, I was not recuperating from a major op. Proud independence (in my case) went by the board and my relief from my sense of "aloneness" in my dear wife's care was utterly profound.

    Please get help. It is out there to be found, I know.

    1. Avus: Occasional Speeder, my 50-plus year-old daughter, has been exploring various sources of help, both personal and technological. For the moment I'm unsure of just exactly what my needs are and how they would be best served.

      In fact I've had three recent ops but, so far, their aftermath has not significantly prevented me from looking after VR. Although I grumble about the work, there is an upside; in parallel I feel gratified at being able to make life easier for the woman I've spent 63 years with. Eventually a planned routine will lift some of the burden but before then I am lucky enough to be unselfishly supported by my two daughters and my grandson.

      However I very much appreciate your sympathy.

  3. It is hard and you need to prepare better. Seriously. There are ways to improve practical matters so you can concentrate your mind and energy on the real important stuff of mutual support and care and love. You are clever, not impoverished and you have family, so please sit down and find a way to get the mundane bits like laundry and food /meals etc. out of you hair.
    I am talking from experience, while it's not (yet) old age, it's a bastard of a chronic illness that made me see the light. A couple of years ago, I was rushed to hospital by ambulance, in my nightgown, which was subsequently torn off me and replaced by a hospital gown (gown is a euphemism here) and when my man came to collect me 48 hrs later he failed to consider the trifling matter of my clothing. We shared his outfit on the way home, not our best show.
    Since then, a small emergency hospital case sits under the bed, occasionally repacked and replenished with whatnots, and it holds a spare charger for the mobile phone.
    Also, a list of essential tasks/instructions/contacts is stuck on the notice board in the hall just in case.

    Hope all will be well soon. Stay on top and cheerful if possible.

    1. Sabine: Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

      I've just checked the date of the post you are referring to (ie, this one) and find it is only seven days ago. It seems like another era.

      To some extent routines have been established and I am now more in control of my new-found life.One of the key imperatives is to complete as many of the regular tasks (visiting the supermarket, dishing out the drugs, overseeing the speech therapy exercises, usw) in the morning when - I have to say - I am a different, more active, more optimistic person. The afternoons see a slow decline in these qualities, possibly because I'm not only a victim of old age but also of three major cancer ops spread over the last two years.

      None of my caring duties is particularly onerous, but there are a lot of them and most form part of a chronological sequence. I have no problem going up and down stairs but when I find I have to do this because I've forgotten part of the task (eg, picking up VR's glasses) I rail futilely about my incompetence and this can take the stuffing out of me. The effects are much more psychological than physical in that I temporarily lose hope. Also I reflect on the fact that these bollixes are subtracting time that would otherwise be available for me to follow my own interests; this may sound selfish but I do need some sort of reassurance that I am still a person in my own right, capable of this and that. Music apart, the weekly singing lesson are important since my teacher has had shared experiences, looking after her mother gradually lapsing into Alzheimers

      Things are improving however. VR has lost much of her appetite and I lack the culinary skills to tempt her with new delicacies. Last night, almost by chance, I managed this and was strangely uplifted.

      It was my intention to avoid discussing this in my posts, only to respond to any specific points raised in comments where there is less obvious exposure. Your comment fell into this category and was especially welcome.

      "Illness and an enhanced role for mobile phones" - it's a thesis waiting to be declared.

  4. How many women know the three gradations of knickers?!

  5. Garden: "Come to me all ye that are heavy-laden." Quote: George Frideric Handel. Here's the answer for free: coarse, soft and voluminous.