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Midsummer madness: It is midnight, and Houston, we have a problem…

23 May 2024 | Written by Marina O'Shea

Retired journalist and full-time carer for her husband, Geraldine Durrant, shares another story of twists and turns regarding her life as a carer…You can find the previous installments of Geraldine’s column here.

IT was on the stroke of midnight and Patrick was lying on his back covered in blood.

Thirty seconds before, I had heard a thump, and a yell, and knew instantly that despite my most strict instructions to the contrary, he had tried to get out of bed and go for a moonlight stroll.

This was a perilous undertaking at the best of times, but I had already been worried at bedtime that he had another urine infection brewing and had resolved to contact our GP in the morning.

All day Patrick had been more than usually clumsy and unsteady – his breakfast was spilled all over the bed (more laundry), a can of beer was dropped fizzing on to the kitchen floor, and a fall from his chair at dinner time had seen bright green petits pois dancing merrily across the room looking for somewhere beyond the reach of the hoover to conceal themselves and start a new life.

So having decided an early night was in order I had, with some difficulty, coaxed Patrick into bed.

“You are very wobbly this evening,” I told him as I tucked him in, “so I want you to promise me that you will STAY IN BED.”

Patrick promised.

But then Patrick always promised…

And I had a list of his ‘previous’ as long as my arm proving, as Sam Goldwyn once so famously remarked, that “verbal agreements aren’t worth the paper they are written on…”

So I was not altogether astonished by the sound of disaster striking as the clock struck twelve.

By the time I had reached him moments later, the blood pumping from Patrick’s bashed nose had combined with the bottle of water he had knocked off his night stand, to form a frighteningly large scarlet pond around his head: while bloody hand prints on the radiator bore silent witness to his attempts to extricate himself from the scene of the crime.

Patrick himself, shaking with shock and fright, was quite unable to raise himself from his position wedged between the bed and the wall.

And he was beyond my strength to help.

So for the first time ever I tentatively pressed the ‘help’ button on his falls alarm, curious to see what would actually happen.

First a nerve-shreddingly loud siren rang out from the master unit and then a crackly voice came on the line asking what we needed.

I forbore to say “time off for good behaviour and a decent night’s sleep” and settled instead for someone to come and get Patrick back into bed for me.

Tea is a great solace in these circumstances, so after I had mopped up the worst of the gore, settled Patrick as comfortably as I could on the floor with a duvet and pillows, and given him a cold flannel to staunch his nose bleed, I made myself a large pot and  waited for the cavalry to arrive.

Chris appeared an hour later, assessed the situation with a practised eye and between us we shoved my heavy mahogany four poster bed to one side so he had room for manoeuvre.

He rolled a now-sleeping Patrick on to a drag sheet, hauled him on to what looked like a heavy duty li-lo, and pumped it up until it had turned, miraculously, into an inflatable armchair the same height as the bed.

Then, with a few deft moves, he pulled Patrick to his feet, turned him through 90 degrees, and popped him back into bed flat on his back.

Mission accomplished. The Eagle had landed…

Of course getting Patrick to stay there proved more problematical as he rattled his cot side endlessly for the next four hours, while demanding to be allowed back into the very bed to which he had so recently been restored.

But I enjoyed the tea…

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