Wednesday, 9 November 2022

Thumbs up?

Hello, dear reader!

It was Monday morning. The week ahead was relatively clear, with only a trip to the vets with Sunny (our cat), so she could have the cone of doom removed and stop her impression of a destructive Pixar mascot.

Then we got the phone call.

I say we, mainly because short sentences are more impactful, but it was actually Tina, my eternally exceptional wife who fielded the call from Jen, her rather lovely sister. The subject of the call? Well, that was a shared concern the health and welfare of Gwen, my mother-in-law

Accident & Emergency
Gwen is a strong-willed, funny, kind, and supernaturally independent woman, but, in recent years her life has been blighted by the onset of Vascular Dementia. This pernicious disease has robbed her of that hard-won independence, led to much frustration (on all fronts), and meant the need for her to move into a care facility was inevitable.

It’s also led to her being far more accident prone.

And that, in case you hadn’t worked it out, was the subject of that morning’s call. Apparently, the previous night (at approximately three in the morning), Gwen had an argument with her adjustable bed. An argument the bed won.

The result of this early morning scrap was a potentially broken thumb. There were no staff available to escort Gwen to hospital, so the call was to both inform us of the incident and ask if we could take her to A&E. We, of course, said yes.

Drive Time
This was around half nine, a time which found me just getting back from my customary trundle with the dog. Returning from said trundle to find Tina approaching to meet me, exasperation writ large on her face, was a sight that filled me with some consternation. The news of the incident, coupled with the need to get straight off (with no breakfast, no less! The inhumanity!) was received in pretty much the same manner, but push had come to shove, possibly with backs being against the walls for added leverage. After a quick ablute, we set off.

Our first (first) port of call was Dewsbury And District Hospital, where Tina escorted Gwen to the Accident & Emergency walk in centre. As the waiting room was reserved for patients and one escort, I sloped off to the hospital coffee shop for a muffin and some caffeine (I’m not entirely sure there was any in the ’coffee’ I bought. There certainly wasn’t much in the way of taste).

I’m not entirely sure, having broken the rule of a lifetime(ish) by buying a paper and getting ensconced in the crossword (I also accidentally stole a pen, but that’s a different story), but I think about an hour went by before Gwen was seen, scanned, and told there was a break and also suspected tendon damage. To confirm and receive treatment, a trip to Pinderfields Hospital some eight miles away.

So off we popped again. Gwen had, at this point, received some pain meds, and was in reasonably high spirits. Another couple of hours in Pinderfields, and that mood changed.

The Impatient Patient
Now, Gwen is, as mentioned, a fiercely independent woman. Getting her to sit still is a job of work, even at the best of times. The wait to see the plastic surgery team, a department as overworked, understaffed, and underpaid as any in the NHS, was therefore frustrating for all involved, but especially for Gwen.

I think it was driven, at least in part, by a lack of understanding, both of where she was, why she was there, and why she had to wait, but a breaking point was reached and harsh words in harsh tones spoken along with a degree of physicality as Gwen attempted to take matters into her own hands and go see the doctor. The recipient of this outburst, as well as the less volatile but more constantly expressed dissatisfaction, confusions, and impatiences, was Tina. Something which has had a knock-on effect on her own mental well-being. In the end, I offered to sit with Gwen while Tina took a walk to clear her head and grab a drink.

Pyramid Schemes
It took a while, and a consult, but, eventually, the decision to err on the side of caution was made. A half-pot was fitted to immobilise the thumb. and enough cotton swabbing and bandages to impress a dead pharaoh wrapped around it. To finish the job, the whole lot was placed in a foam-rubber sling. A fire-fighter’s stuntman attending a Zorba party would be less well protected.

We reached Aston Manor, the home Gwen resides in, at approximately five o’clock in the afternoon, some seven and a half hours after leaving home that morning. I was, as you might suspect, shattered. It’s true that my part in the day was less intensive than Tina’s. There was a lot of waiting around, a crossword (massively incomplete, but then it was The Times), a codeword, and a lot of disappointing coffee.


There was also a lot of driving, and these days, driving is tiring. It takes concentration. It takes vigilance and anticipation, all of which saps energy from my self-cannibalising brain. It meant the phone call we got from Jen at eight-ish to tell us Gwen had successfully ripped through several layers of wadding and got the half-pot off was less than welcome.

Non-Day Blues
Luckily, Jen had the foresight to anticipate this reaction and had already volunteered me out of any driving duties the next day. Something I will be eternally grateful for. As it was, yesterday was a non-event of a day, and saw me sleep in until after eight (not the mints), something which is a distinct rarity. I’m still feeling the effects today, but that might be because we were back in the car yesterday to deal with the aforementioned cat.

As for Gwen, the nurse at Aston Manor seems to believe she is better left un-potted. They are keeping a careful watch on her, and will let us know as and when any further transportation or the like is needed, but for now, it’s as you were, please await further instructions. I guess that’s all we can do.

Until next time.


Hey, folks! If you would care to take a look at some of my more creative writing, then the links below will transport you to the magical worlds of a few anthologies my short (and in two cases, very short) stories have been included in. Feel free to check ’em out!

New Tales Of Old: Volume 2

Death Ship



The Musketeers Vs Cthulhu

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