30 October 2009

Thursday snips and snaps

Every bone in my body is aching from a heavy weeding job yesterday on the steep bank between the back verandah and the pool pump house. D came round early and got us started – me hacking away pretty indiscriminately and him carting tarp-fuls of heavy cuttings down to what is becoming a Mt Everest of a bonfire at the bottom of the paddock. There's little good stuff in this part of the garden that I want to save, and that which went down to be burnt includes great clumps of a very sticky vine which had a claw-like hold on a number of plants and which was full of clicking seed pods because I let it go too long. So in many cases it was easier to cut down everything – indifferent host plant and clinging weedy vine. Further over on the first terrace above the pool, I had to cut back several grevilleas to waist height and most of the flowering head of a big healthy bougainvillea wrapped around the pool fence, in order to free these plants from the vine. But they will all sprout again readily enough and already the area looks much better. I can't believe how long it is taking me to get the house and garden back under a semblance of control after the nine or so months in which all our energies had to be directed toward Allen's illness and recuperation.

I didn't run into our resident keelback during yesterday's pruning, and though that didn't disappoint me I have rather gotten used to having him around. Admittedly, I don't like the surprise of finding I'm stepping on him while I pause to look around for the hose – as happened a few days ago, when he must have been quietly resting on the bottom step as I came down toward the vegie patch. So the next day, when I found him in the same spot (he must be a slow learner), I just snapped this photo and then retreated back up the steps. He soon slithered off. But 'slither' really has too many negative connotations to be associated with such a quiet and harmless little fellow. Aren't there any positively charged action words to describe snake movements? I can't think of any right now. Anyway, my only concern now is how to keep Lucy from finding this little resident when Z&B come up for the Christmas break. As we recently saw four of the snakes around the house on the same day, I don't think there's much point in trying to move this one on – as the snake-catcher said he could do IF he happened to see the snake while he was here (which is not very likely). And as this is the only species of snake that can successfully eat poisonous cane toads, I should feel lucky that I have kellbacks living 'with' us (so the snake-catcher said!) And I do....really. But there's Lucy to think about.

All the while D* and I laboured away out there in the garden yesterday, N* was nearby, constructing a new little set of garden steps to replace a particularly slippery bit of sloping ground leading from the pool pump house down to the fruit tree area. We've always had to tread carefully there, especially when picking the fruit of the overhanging mulberry tree. Now I'll have some flat surfaces on which to set my ladder. And one more little corner will offer a more pleasing sight, after I plant some ground-covers on either side of the steps. The job isn't finished yet; there's one more step to go at the bottom and more 'fill' to be added (we're using 20ml Mary River gravel, because the stones are big enough NOT to be splashed out into nearby grassy areas when the rains come). Nev will be back next week, when A and I return from a few days in Brisbane, and he'll finish that project plus a couple of other small ones he's doing for me. More about those later.

Meanwhile in the house, A's favourite Blue Care visitor had arrived and was putting him through his paces. Usually I go off to run errands and get the groceries while a carer spends four hours with A. But this week I took advantage of her visit to have those hours in the garden without having to check on A, help him do this or that, or worry about whether he's OK. Blue Care sends us a carer every Thursday for four hours, and it's a great help to both of us. But as was the case with hospital nurses, the health management folk who do these rosters seem to think it's best not to be consistent in their staff assignments. No doubt the aim is to prevent 'clients' getting too attached to individual nurses or carers, and in the Intensive Care ward where A was nearly comatose for so long this policy didn't have too many negative consequences. At least I could look forward to having the 'best' nurses caring for A as often as the less inspiring ones (and while I'm sure they were all well qualified, at least to me some made more interesting companions for the day than others; more importantly, when he was lucid A could understand some of them and not others, and only a few of them could understand his very slurry early speech attempts). But now that A is able to function so much better, it's unfortunate for him and inconvenient for me that, just as a matter of Blue Care policy, we get different carers from time to time. 'Unfortunate' because it takes time for anyone to get used to A's communication style. And it takes him quite a bit of time to be comfortable enough with a new person to communicate at his optimum level. Then, I need to spend time explaining to every new person things about A and about the house. And each new carer seems to feel the need to read A's entire Blue Care file (which is getting pretty thick). But most importantly, A gets along so well with S (our favourite carer) and so looks forward to the hours he spends with her. So it's a shame when suddenly we get sent a different person, especially one whose communication skills leave a lot to be desired. S and A have a number of favourite activities – she's happy to help him with his puzzles and games, or help him bake a cake, or take a spin around the garden with him. But she also knows just how much to help, and how much to encourage him in his independence. Most of all, she likes conversation and encourages A in his speaking and writing activities. And his communication practice really benefits when he relates so well to his carer. All of the four carers we've had to date have been good, competent professionals, I 'm sure. But S just suits A so well. It's a shame we can't be sure of always getting her. I tried having a discrete word to Blue Care about our preferences, and that seemed to go down OK. So we'll see what happens in subsequent weeks.

* D and N each deserve to be the subject of separate posts, which I may write at another time!


bou said...

Just wanted to say, keep the snips and snaps coming. Always enjoy reading them...

Zoe said...

Me too. And those new steps looks great! Can't wait to try them out.

About me

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I started this blog in 2009 when I became a full-time caregiver. My husband had been diagnosed a few years earlier with primary progressive aphasia. Over the next four years until his death in 2013, we went on a journey of discovery about this rare condition. My blog is about what I learned, how we both coped and how the journey deepened our love and appreciation of each other. Allen’s journey is over, but mine goes on.