Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Life, the next stage

Good grief, talk about procrastination! In February I wrote this:

Well, here I am, with the house all to myself. A few weeks ago Chris was taken to the local extended care facility. I am almost ashamed by how much I am enjoying the freedom. In many ways I have been living alone for more than a year anyway.

Then in April this.

I am finally writing this in my  hotel room at the tail end of a satisfying mini vacation. That  blog with pictures will wait till the next post. 

It is now June.

About that next stage. After January Chris's condition deteriorated rapidly. He started needing more help with activities of daily living and had a few falls. I did not mind helping, and would even have been willing to have a hospital bed in the living room if necessary, but I am useless with not enough sleep. Sorry, just cannot do it. I usually sail through cold and flu season but caught a mean bronchitis this year. In consultation with the visiting health nurse it was decided that it was time to put Chris on a waiting list for extended care. I was warned that it might take some time and that we had to take the first bed in the district that became available, even if that was hours away. 

Well. We have been incredibly lucky.  Since February 12 Chris has been living in Minto House, the local extended care facility. Nobody wants to spend their last years in a facility, but if you have to be in one it does not get better than the one in our village. There are only 16 patients, with three staff members on duty. The rooms are roomy and private, the atmosphere is pleasant, the staff is caring, the food not gourmet but decent. Beds, wheelchairs and other equipment are state of the art and make life as comfortable as it can be.  The  patients' wishes are respected in all matters. They decide for themselves whether they wish to participate in group activities or just stay in their rooms. There is a closed, safe outside space that is quite beautiful in summer, if we ever get it. 

I was even spared the difficult task of explaining the move. Communication with someone who is both deaf and has bouts of dementia is incredibly frustrating. It went like this. I had been out grocery shopping for exactly one hour, and came home to find Chris flat on his back on the floor in the hallway. I managed to get him up, probably the wrong idea but nothing seemed broken. He seemed squirmy afterwards, not dozing off in his comfy chair as usual. When he did not touch his lunch I knew something was wrong. I called the clinic to see if home visits were an option. Not. Oh, did I mention that this was the snowiest part of a snowy winter? Fortunately we had just been plowed out but there was no way to  get Chris into a car. The clinic told me to call an ambulance. They came, sirens and all, conferred, and decided that four lifters were needed to get Chris down the steps and into an ambulance. So another vehicle was called up. It was quite dramatic! Chris was taken to hospital where he was later diagnosed with pneumonia. He had barely been coughing. The next day I was snowed in again. I had begged the hospital to please keep Chris in care for a few days so I could rest, but what do you know: on Friday a bed became available in Minto House, just like that! Minto House is part of the hospital. Of course it was tough and bewildering for Chris in the beginning, but after a few weeks he settled in. He is now wheelchair bound, increasingly stiff, and there is no way he could get the care he needs at home. In the beginning I spent large chunks of every day there but it has become clear that is not necessary. Of course I visit, but only for an hour and I no longer feel guilty if I skip a day.

So here I am, 90% free to join the single sisterhood, free to change things in the house and on the land, a new stage of life.  Ah, the choices! Of course all important decisions have to be made on the basis of insufficient data. The most important factor is my own health. Then there is the possibility  of really bad sh#t happening in the world. Am I spending too much time with 'collapse porn'? 
On a good day, which is most days, I imagine myself staying on the land for another decade, perhaps inviting people to join in some way, perhaps starting chickens again, or making some income with bedding plants, or body work, and earn enough to spend some time in warmer places in winter. On a bad day I think I might just skip the little house in the village stage, sell out, move straight into seniors' housing and do nothing except be old.

For starters, no matter what happens in the next decade, whether I leave the land sooner or later, things have to be tidied up. The log cabin that Chris built is doomed, sniffle. This means contacting B.C. Hydro and having the main powerline go to the mobile dwelling instead of the old house.


  1. Having read a bit about what you've both bee through, I think you made a good decision, Ien. I hope things are looking better day by day.

  2. Sad to say I will be facing such decisions. I don't know when but am gather information.


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