Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not; practising flash fiction.

Giving up on Mondays

with one comment

I’m giving up on Mondays as my writing day. I lost the last three Mondays thanks to: mum-in-law staying a couple of nights while we moved up river; my dad writing off his car; and friends mooring alongside offering tales of cheap hotels in Marmaris as well as an enticing lunch.

I knew I wouldn’t get much done with mum-in-law staying as she needs entertaining.  None of us realised things would be so bad that, as tensions grew and hubby cooked dinner, I would venture outside to wash the boat. In the heat and humidity of the first week of August the boat was redolent and shining. With the rain and wind that have followed that three-day summer, the boat is once again leaf strewn and in need of sponging. Today’s weather is so inclement that new leaks have appeared in the previously watertight wheelhouse and hubby has gone back to bed to escape the noise.

The morning after mum-in-law left, I was at my desk and primed to go. All I had to do was phone my mum to check she was okay. She wasn’t.

Two and a half years ago my dad suffered a hypoxic brain injury post-heart attack. He’d had a good life and enjoyed himself, as evidenced by the surfeit of red wine and cheese that we consider made up the clots that stopped his heart. Two passers-by stopped and kept him alive until an ambulance arrived. He was rushed to hospital and all looked well for two days before all looked black. After a week unconscious on a ventilator he woke up, but the whale flailing in a bed was not my dad and never will be again. There followed three weeks in intensive care, a month on the cardiology ward where stents were fitted, and months of rehabilitation learning to talk and walk again before the finer points of cooking and conversation. This period of recovery culminated after two years when Dad retook his driving test.

As a family we did not consider him safe to drive – his reaction times are too slow. While he can walk quickly in a straight line, it can take him five minutes to process and answer a question. We didn’t think he would be able to cope with the speed of traffic and other distractions on the road. As a family we made every effort to prevent Dad obtaining a car.  Unfortunately, during the ‘settle everything before writing’ phone call, my mum told me that, with the help of friend, he had obtained one. The next few days were spent worrying, fretting and researching what we could do.

Calls to the DVLA were fruitless – only a doctor can report someone as unfit to drive and, although the GP’s assessment had done so once, my father had since passed a test with a DVLA-assessor. As a third party I could write and then a questionnaire would be sent for my father to fill in. (Something has to be done where the only way to get unsafe drivers off the road is by doctor or self-report. I know the system is designed to prevent malicious reporting, but sometimes a family does know best, especially in the case of a brain-injured person where all insight and self-awareness is lost.)

And so we came to the second non-productive Monday. No sooner had hubby and I returned home from visiting my parents than Mum was on the phone saying Dad had crashed the car. He’d owned it all of six days, had been driving alone for all of half an hour. The tail end of Monday we spent in A&E. Tuesday we were at the insurance brokers and retrieving belongings from the car. Wednesday it was hospital visiting and conflicting reports as to what happened next from doctors and nurses. For once, Dad knew more than both of them. Thursday was spent hanging around while they discharged him.

No one else was involved in the accident. Only the car and Dad’s pride have been injured.

The last two weeks have disappeared in a glut of anxiety not conducive to writing. Sitting on the back deck of our friend’s boat this Monday, hearing about their £8/ night full-board holiday in Turkey, helped balance out the worry. And so, with real-life back in equilibrium, I return to imagine melancholia in Bristol.

Written by Sarah Ann

August 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm

One Response

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  1. […] Hubby is in Las Vegas with my mum. Everybody thinks this is weird. They go off playing and I stay home to look after Dad. All this involves really is making sure he’s fed and being on hand to deal with an emergency (these are few, but here’s one you can read about from last year). […]

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