The unconventional days are always the best.
Friday morning came with a frantic call from my friend, who whilst on holiday, had had a staffing emergency. One of her son’s PA’s had phoned in sick which meant that Bernard would be home alone, unable to eat, drink or successfully go to the loo. I knew she was struggling because she’d essentially asked someone on wheels to go and lend a hand to someone else on wheels; a blog-worthy experience if nothing else.
It wasn’t until I got off the phone with her that I realised my Friday PA is still learning the ropes herself and frets about every new situation she’s put in. There was no way I was going to let Bernard down, but I thought I’d give my PA the heads up and just tell her what was happening. The conversation went smoothly until I mentioned that Bernard requires assistance with feeding himself. Cue the twenty-seven questions with regards to how she was going to do it, if he would choke, and if he could tell us when he’d had enough.
I sometimes forget people worry about these things simply because they haven’t had to deal with anything disability-related before. I’m so laid back about what people can and can’t physically do for themselves that I assume everyone is the same. The worst that can happen is that you get something slightly wrong, laugh about it and start again. Besides, the best way to build someone’s confidence is to throw them in at the deep end, so that’s what I did.
We arrived a tad behind schedule and were greeted by Bernard’s PA who seemed puzzled at the fact that my friend had sent an equally incapacitated person to save the day. One of his PA’s first questions was who would be emptying Bernard’s catheter when he needed it. I really shouldn’t have found it funny, but for one, did she actually think there was a possibility of it being me? And two, I’d only just managed to persuade my PA that Bernard wasn’t going to die in her capable hands. Anyway, after a quick tutorial, we were good to go.
Sure enough, Bernard did not choke to death whilst eating his duck wrap. However, the dog was sick all over my friend’s bright white bed linen and we caused a small flood when we pushed the wrong button on the electric toilet. What can I say, the day was never going to be hitch-free!
Upon our return from an afternoon trip to the pub in which Bernard is royalty, my PA went to run some errands, leaving us to avoid creating tyre marks on the floors the cleaner was mopping. Her arrival was much appreciated because she dealt with the remnants of the carnage that the morning had brought, but also because she played a pivotal part in averting a major incident. Half an hour after my PA had vacated, Bernard informed me that we had a problem. Even though I’d be irritatingly and repeatedly asking if he needed his catheter bag emptying throughout the day, I hadn’t twigged that he couldn’t tell until it was practically overflowing. After laughing hysterically over how much this was a case of the cripple leading the cripple’, the cleaner swooped in without hesitation. I don’t think anyone’s been in the right place at the right time more than in that moment.
The cleaner left having exceeded her duties tenfold and a second later my PA rang asking if she could go on a break. In the part of my brain that isn’t so laid back, there were very distinct possibilities of our wheelchairs running out of charge, puddles of pee end up on the floor for the third time in one day and the house burning down. Realistically though, there weren’t any catastrophes that were bigger than the one we’d just avoided, so off she went.
To sum the whole thing up, Bernard mention that’d it’d be easier if we weren’t disabled which in all honesty it would. But where’s the fun in that? Shit happens and at the end of the day, nobody died.