A few weeks ago, I met friends for lunch - for blog purposes, I’ll call them Bertha and Bella. I’ve known the family since Bertha and my mum bonded over the fact that they both had multiple disabled kids. Just to fill you in, three out of Bertha’s four children (of which Bella is the oldest) have a rare, yet undiagnosed condition called Leukodystrophy. In its simplest terms, this is a degenerative disability which affects all sorts of things, including physical function. Fortunately, in the cases of Bertha’s kids, the degenerative bit appears to have passed them by, but they all travel on wheels.
Anyway, Bella had just moved into independent living, but as luck would have it, the care company were short-staffed, so the onus fell back onto Bertha to help her out. You know what they say, you wait for a bus and two turn up at once. Well, exchange buses for minor catastrophes and you’ll catch my drift. We were discussing the best way to solve Bella’s ongoing staffing issue when Bertie called.
Bertie had also flown the nest to go to university. He still lives in the city, but Bertha had managed to convince herself that her baby boy wasn’t eating, drinking or washing, and thus he was slowly rotting away in a student hovel with nothing more than a tin of baked beans for comfort. He may have survived this long, but Bertie’s asthma had flared up and he was in desperate need of an inhaler.
Although she’s tried many times before, Bertha finds it impossible to split herself in two. She couldn’t leave Bella to her own devices because that would’ve meant that she was unable to eat, drink or wash. On the other hand, if she didn’t go and reunite Bertie with an inhaler, he would’ve been stranded, wandering the pharmacies of Lincoln in a fatal attempt to breathe. Eventually, it was decided I would meet Bertie at the pharmacy so that Bertha and Bella could carry on with their day, hiccup-free.
I set off as did he. I arrived. He did not. I waited. And I text him. And I waited some more. After forty-five minutes I began to get a little concerned. I reluctantly rang Bertha and very tactfully enquired about Bertie’s whereabouts. Her response both terrified me and made me realise how blog-worthy this tale could be…
“It shouldn’t take him very long to get there, but he’s only driven his powerchair twice”. I swear my heart leapt from my chest and reached my mouth in a speed that Mo Farah would be proud of. That said, I was aware that I couldn’t let on how vividly my mind had conjured up the image of Bertie squashed in the middle of a road whilst his chair hung precariously from a curb.
The ironic thing was my PA (carer) who was with me throughout the shenanigan had a dodgy leg and so she was on crutches. No word of a lie, through a combination of disability and severe injury, it took us what felt like ten years to hobble and wheel a few hundred yards. By this point, my desperation of needing a pee had diluted the anxiety surrounding the prospect of Bertie’s untimely death. So, we called in at the cinema - they have one of the best disabled loos in Lincoln.
Who should I find sitting in the middle of the cinema foyer? None other than Bertie who had practically been to every pharmacy there is, apart from the one he was supposed to be at. In the end, he’d given up and had declared himself lost. He was okay, albeit slightly struggling to breathe, but he hadn’t lost a battle with oncoming traffic or ridiculously steep curbs, so all was well in the world.
We wheeled back to the pharmacy that it had taken us the best part of two hours to get to. We listened to an overenthusiastic Pharmacist talk about the new prescription scheme that Bertie had signed up to. We still have no idea what the hell he was going on about, but it resulted in an inhaler, so who cares? And, despite my dramatic brain that likes to think everyone, and everything is near to certain death, no fatalities occurred. Happy days!