Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The continuing saga of Bob and Doris

In a couple of hours, I'll be back at the Ottawa Hospital for my regular volunteer duty with Doris, my friend who broke five bones in her foot eight weeks ago. She's getting a walking cast today -- hopefully.

I can't believe it's been eight weeks, although I know Doris has been counting the minutes. She's confined to a tiny area of a couch that has stuff piled all over both arms. The only activity Doris has managed has been bathroom duty a few times a day, because she's on strict bed rest. She was warned any standing could compromise the healing process.

So she's Ellen and Live! with Kelly hemmed in.

Poor Doris. I really feel for her.

She hasn't been able to get out of her apartment because the wheelchair the hospital sent is too big for a regular car. So she's been going stir crazy, and has taken to calling me nearly daily with nothing major to report.

The good news is that her husband Bob has rallied. He himself was in rehab this time last year after being in a two month coma. He's done very little for himself over the past year because he has multiple health problems. He is diabetic, he has cirrhosis and he has a disease which has shortened all the tendons in his feet and his hands making them numb, crooked and useless.

Needless to say, Doris taking the fall left them in a very precarious position indeed.

They refused home care because they are hoarders and no caregiver would agree to go into their home. So it's been up to Bob to make meals, find a way to get groceries and do the laundry.

He's been managing on tv dinners and omelettes, but he's let what little is left of his personal hygiene go. Dishes don't get done, bathrooms don't get scrubbed and garbage and news papers are piled high.

They were mild hoarders before. Now they've reached the championship level, the kind that gets folks on A&E.

But you know what? They're probably coping better than most of us.

They didn't have great standards to begin with.

Bob found ParaTranspo impossible. The drivers were always late picking him up at home so he had to go to his doctors' appointments an hour earlier. They would also take forever to get him back home, leaving him exhausted.

So Bob did what every sensible habitual drinker would do. He started driving again. I thought, Holy Mother of Shite. He can't feel his feet. That didn't stop him; after all, he'd spent years drunk driving and never got caught. So, he reasoned, why couldn't he drive now that he's sober (with numb feet)?

Unbelievably, Bob has had no mishaps -- yet -- but I'm truly grateful for the driving public that Doris will have a walking cast and will be, once again, mobile.

The story of Bob and Doris makes me wonder how other people are managing with life-threatening illnesses and mobility issues. I suppose the answer is that they are doing the best they can.

Which isn't very good at all.

Oh well, Doris still has her vodka. And Bob has TSN.

There but for the grace of God, as they say.

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