Little Big Fears
9am I’ve had to call in a plumber to look at Nick’s toilet, which is tilting at a strange angle with the cistern coming away from the wall. We’ve been here before…at the previous flat, where twice Nick pulled the washbasin off the wall and then dislodged the toilet too in the space of a few weeks.
I recognise the plumber, he's been here before when the wet room was first installed. He thinks it's a simple job but I offer him a hot drink and we have a joke about how he can stomach swigging tea while poking around in somebody's soil pipe.
An hour later, he’s sitting on the floor amidst slabs of dismantled plastic, phoning his gaffer. He can put everything back today and refix it against the wall but it will only be a temporary solution. The whole thing is coming away not just from the wall, but actually parting company from the huge bolts going deep into the floor. It’s a solid, specialist self-flushing toilet for people with impairments and he installs them all the time but he says he’s never seen anything quite like this.
“It must have taken some force to move them bolts”.
Welcome to our world, I say, standing in the doorway where I notice the handle is also starting to come loose again, the screw heads working their way out like worms after rain.
The plumber has asked his gaffer to call the OT and advises I do too, to make sure she knows this is urgent because it’s only going to hold for a limited time and then the whole thing is going to go. Horrible visions of Nick on the floor, collapsed amongst the ruins of a broken toilet in a pool of piss, or worse.
11.15am The plumber has gone, I’ve left an answering machine message with the OT and I’m drinking coffee with Nick who had slept soundly through all the drilling and clanking. I’ve unearthed some wonderful old photos of us as children and we’re having a giggle at our clothes, woolly balaclavas and cardis knitted by our gran, Nick’s tartan bow-tie (what a thing to do to a child, he was only four) and my gap teeth.
The carers have not yet arrived to give him his shower and breakfast. Yesterday they didn’t turn up at lunchtime at all. Luckily I was around and could nip over and make him a late lunch – 3.30, practically tea – and give him his tablets.
The care agency weren’t sure what had happened. Their timings have been going really off again and I’m worried.
We’re going on holiday in two weeks’ time – me, Simon and Dill, the first holiday we’ve had together in years, an actual, proper holiday - but I don’t know if I can do it. How can I leave him like this?
His lovely PA has said she’ll look after him and that was really the thing that made me feel able to go for it in the first place, but oh the things that can, and do, go wrong. Today being a fine example.
I'm not being pessimistic. Just, this is how it is. When the carers are late or don’t turn up at all, when another thing suddenly gives under the force of Nick’s super strength, you’ve got to sort it out.
And then the sheer range of minor crises that happen every single day – the lost hearing aids, the hearing loop not working, the fall, the spilled wine that has drowned his phone, the remote control dying, the payment not going through due to insufficient funds, the neighbour banging at the door and swearing at the carers outside – all of these things are just like background music to the daily pattern of Nick’s life. They still have to be dealt with.
It is a big ask for someone else to take on.