Groundhog Day, Groundhog Day, Groundhog Day, Groundhog Day
My wife, Jane, woke me up at 9 a.m., announcing, “Welcome to Groundhog Day!”
Every day starts the same. Yes, I know the day always started at 6 a.m. in the film, but even 9 a.m. is a terrific shock to my system. Never in my life have I gotten up so early and regularly. As I’ve written in previous columns, I’ve always been a freelance worker, and engineered my life so I could sleep in as much as possible — because I was always staying up as late as possible! Hey, it turns out this is a sign of intelligence. So there.
In the last month, we’ve had to stop taking weekends off from professional carers, as dealing with my level of disability was becoming too much for my family.
It turns out I’ve inadvertently hit the sweet spot in — let’s use their proper name — care practitioners’ availability. They arrive at 11 a.m. It’s their latest morning call, but just too early for lunch. No one else uses this time. Woo-hoo.
Woo-hoo, indeed, as there is currently a massive shortage of care workers here in the U.K. According to The Guardian, there may be 170,000 vacant care positions by the end of the year — the result of a toxic mixture of Brexit, low wages (many care workers are quitting to work in Amazon warehouses, where they receive higher wages and a 1,000-pound sign-on bonus), tax changes, and the government’s “no jab, no job” policy. It’s also an occupation one must study and train for.
My life additionally resembles “Groundhog Day” because my morning routine can’t change. I spend an hour taking a vast quantity of medicines for my MS and innumerable comorbidities, usually with a freshly brewed coffee and toast. Peanut butter and jam is a fave. Yes, I might have picked up this predilection in the States, but as a Brit, there is no way I will ever call jam “jelly.” And don’t get me started on football!
At 10 a.m., I go to the shower. This is relatively easy — no lifting required! My profiling bed does it all. I can stand on my trusty Molift Raiser, and Jane wheels me to my commode/shower chair. I still maintain the strength to lower myself carefully onto it.
My dead, lymphatic right leg is a lump. It’s better than it was, but that’s a story in itself. It’s too much for Jane to lift, but I’ve come up with a cunning wheeze. I’ve adapted how I use my leg lifter, and can pull it vertically with my arms. Then, I just need to gently push my leg backward onto the step.
A quick drag to the wet room, and the routine continues like clockwork. I’ll draw a shower curtain over the next graphic bit, as it entails the use of my trusty anal catheter. I need an hour for it to do its work, and for me to have my requisite shower afterward.
Et voilà! By the time my care practitioners arrive at 11, I’m ready to start the day.
Like Bill Murray, I get to make variations. These days, I can even venture out. There is even an upside — I will never, ever be able to put my foot in that pesky puddle!
It’s far worse for Jane. She now has to get up at 8 a.m. every day. Long before MS exploded into our lives, I was well aware that any sort of nursing was her biggest nightmare. I always kept my “man flu” to myself.
Stress levels are high all around. At least my care practitioners have a laugh with me. I’m not going to waste a captive audience — especially one I pay for!
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