Lesley's Story - Chapter 2
Beep beep 7.30am alarm goes off. In the shower, feel quite happy and I am looking forward to my day. Oh wait, realisation kicks in, we are in the middle of a pandemic, due to Covid 19. My anxiety level rises but I talk to myself and calm down.
Off to my first call, I wear full PPE, mask, gloves and an apron. I take spares in with me to change where appropriate. I let myself in, 'Hello' I shout as my lady is hard of hearing. 'Who's that' comes the reply. I enter the room shouting me, 'oh I couldn't hear with that silly mask on, take it off' Sorry I cannot, I shout back, it's to keep us safe from the virus. 'It's only a flu bug' she replies. If only ........
I carry on doing what's required, popping into chat but when you have to shout it becomes exhausting. I wave goodbye. I discard my PPE in the bin and wash my hands yet again. Back in the car, my safe haven, I sanitise my hands and breathe in the fresh air.
Onto my next visit, on with the PPE, let myself in, 'Hello, it's me, all ok' I shout. ' I don't know about that' she replies. 'What's the matter' I ask. 'Haven't seen my family this week, they tell me they can't visit'. I sympathise and explain the rules about the tier we are in at the moment. 'You'll just have to make do with me, I'm afraid' laughing. 'Thank goodness you do come in to look after me or I'd be in a sorry state' she says, and she would. My heart goes out to her and I'd love to hug her but can't.
I go shopping on my own as the lady is shielding. it's sad really as her only trip out is to the shops with me. I have to queue outside the shop as it operates a one in one out policy. It starts to rain, great. Whilst shopping I keep my distance and wait for others to pass. Someone is walking towards me, without a mask, I hold my breath and turn my back to them and let them pass, cursing to myself but I do not know their circumstances so move on.
I return and unload the shopping, making sure everything is within easy reach for my client. I make a cup of tea and we have a lovely chat and just forget what's happening in the world. I say my goodbyes and as always, she goes to hold my hand, I make a joke about germs, we laugh but it's not funny.
Back in my safe haven, I sit for a moment, thinking what if I catch this virus and take it home or pass it to my clients. I'm working within the guidelines but there's a niggling thought, not if I get it but when....
I have to stop by the office for more PPE and as I enter the office, having washed my hands first, the girls all smile and ask how I am. I relay my thoughts and they not only sympathise but share their concerns too. It's like a counselling session. Never once making me feel silly and we're soon laughing. I leave feeling so much better and it's nice knowing the team all genuinely care about us girls.
Last call of the day for me, is a lunch call with a lady who has dementia. Most visits go well, fingers crossed today is one of them. Having put on full PPE, another carer lets me in and steps into the hall for a handover. No problems today and we say our goodbyes. 'Hello Doris'. 'Who are you? she asks. 'I've come to do your lunch for you. 'What, I'm not a child, I can do it myself' she says. I smile and say, 'I know you can, I thought you might like a bit of company'. I go through to the kitchen and prepare lunch, Shepherd's pie in the microwave with fresh vegetables. I lay the table and sit down; I reach for the remote control as I know this lady likes the holiday programme that's on. In a flash, she grabs the remote and hits me on the back of my hand with it. I flinch and explain about the programme. She tells me to go home. I go into the kitchen and put the kettle on, I pop my head round the door and say, 'Sorry Doris I forgot, do you have sugar in your tea?' 'Oh, one please dear that would be lovely' the incident forgotten. We have lunch chatting about the old days. I wash up and tidy the kitchen and as I prepare to leave, Doris says 'I 've seen that cardigan before I think.' ' Yes, I say I wore it last week.' Oh yes, you live local and have 3 girls. I usually wear the same cardigan as it seems to trigger a memory. The other carer arrives, and I explain what happened. We laugh about it as I know my lady is not a violent person it is just the dementia. It won't put me off visiting even though I know the behaviour will change but I will remember her, as leading a full and interesting life. She was well known for doing charity work in her village, knitting for the babies as they come along and working in the church. I know our visits are a great help to both her and her family and allow her to remain at home in familiar surroundings.
Back to my car and on the way home, I think about my day. It's been very up and down today and I'm tired thinking about having to put on PPE, not to get close to people oh and my bruised hand. Oh well, all part of the job and I wouldn't have it any other way.
At home, I make a cup of tea and start reading my book, perfect.
*Names have been changed, for data protection and confidentiality.