Saturday 13 May 2017

Dr Druppel will see you now

As I mentioned a week ago, I'm over in Olde England this week looking after my Olde Mother after she had her eye-balls scraped for cataract.  She has been prescribed 7x eye-drops per diem for 4 weeks.
  • Tobradex 4x/day this is a mix of tobramycin [an antibiotic] and dexamethasone [a cortico-steroid] ophthalmic . . . if you have as much trouble with the long words as my Hum Phys students try saying (TOE bra MYE sin and DEX a METH a sone off THAL mik). The combo is designed to act as prophylaxis against bacterial infection of the raw front-end of her eyeball.
  • Ketorolac trometarol 3x/day this is an NSAID [non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug] to stop the itching by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins.
Delivering these drops on a more or less regular schedule would be a doddle, if your could do it yourself OR you had someone living with you who could spare 30 seconds 4 times a day. The last permanent house-mate of my mother, her husband, died 16 years ago and she's been living independently and essentially alone since then. Independent is a key word here: she will not surrender that independence easily. She has seen too many of her generation settled in sheltered accommodation which is serviceable but 'cosy'; easy to clean and heat but hard to accommodate a lifetime's accumulation of Stuff "why, you couldn't swing a cat in her living room". She has witnessed the, often quite rapid, decline in health and morale when her elderly pals have been shipped to a residential care home . . .  even the homes which don't 'smell'. She also deprecates the several instances where the Elder, especially the widowed variety, has been shipped to a remote part of the country to be nearer the grandchildren. Grand children are fine but they have nothing in common with granny except 1/4 of their genes: unfamiliar with WWII, the wireless, telephones with rotary dials, rice pudding and Jeyes Fluid. It's really hard to make new friends of your own age in a strange town where the accents are unfamiliar.

But it turns out that the inhabitants of the remote, quaint, village with Green and Pub where Mum lives are quite willing to form an orderly queue and take up a slot in a schedule to give my mother her eye-drops. They were, after all, quite capable of formenting a disorderly riot when the government threatened to take away their postman. Me being here has given the friends-and-neighbours rota a week's respite but they'll be back next week. Asking them was like pushing at an open door; because they care for their own. The milkman delivered his weekly bill to the house at some impossibly early hour on Wednesday morning and was seen and heard by a neighbour preparing to go to work. That evening he called us to make sure my mother was still alive. That's kind of useless: if the dawn visitor had been an axe-murderer then my mother would have surely bled out between 0500hrs and 1930hrs . . . but also kind, compassionate . . . neighbourly. 

This is only fair because my mother spent the first 25 years of her life in the village, when she had her eyes, the use of her legs and a car, taking old people to clinics, getting groceries from town if she was going, making cakes and cookies for the village fĂȘte and always contributing raffle prizes - often boxes of chocolates which she had been given by someone else: she has a drawer full. If you are registered blind, things can get a little sketchy round the kitchen sink but you probably don't notice. We're hoping that two hours a week from a fit young person with rubber gloves and a scouring pad can keep this from becoming life-threatening or attracting vermin. What goes around comes around. It takes time to build up the social capital, we'd all be advised to start paying forward now.

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