Conversations, October 2009

One evening I was reminding the Old Man that when I phoned him at breakfast-time the next morning, he needed to be fairly near the phone, so that he would hear it ringing.
“Can’t I take it [the call] in the bedroom?” he asked me.
“No, Dad, you haven’t got a phone in the bedroom.”
“Did we have it taken out?”
“No, you’ve never had a phone in the bedroom, not a landline phone. You used to keep your mobile in the bedroom.”


“Dad, put your teeth in. You’re mumbling.”
“I’ve got bread in my mouth. I thought you could tell the difference.”


Most unusually, when I phoned the Old Man one morning he had already got out the first four items in his morning medication. But then he had difficulty finding his levothyroxine. Eventually he found the right box, but he sounded uncertain about whether he needed to take a tablet out of it.
“I may already have got it out.”
“No you haven’t! Get one out, please.”
This kind of difficulty is why I prefer him to get the items of medication out, one by one, under my supervision.


A veteran of the Falklands was being interviewed on TV.
“Who is this?” the Old Man asked me.
“He’s a veteran of the Falklands War,” I told him.
“I don’t know what we’re doing there.”
“We were there because it was a British colony, and it was invaded by Argentina.”
It soon became clear that the Old Man was confusing the Falklands with Afghanistan.


One early consequence of the visits from the District Nurse was that the Old Man was prescribed DiproBase, to be applied to some patches of rough skin on his feet. The DiproBase came in a large pump-type dispenser. At the same time the Old Man was prescribed Lactulose, but he seemed to think that the bottle contained another type of skin-cream.
“Can I rub this on my head?” he asked me. [He has some soreness there.]
“No, Dad, it’s for constipation.”


One morning, the Old Man could not find his levothyroxine in the sandwich-box. I reminded him of the name:
“Say it again.”
“Ah, it’s two syllables.”


Again, the Old Man misheard me when I was trying to get him to take his bendroflumethiazide. I repeated the name for him, but still he could not quite make it out.
“What do you call it? Embro…?” [Was he thinking of embrocation?]


We were in the car. The Old Man looked intently to our right, as we passed a junction.
“That man’s waving to us, to turn up that way.”
“No he isn’t! It’s a no right turn.”


“You were going to put through some stuff for me.”
At first I thought this was a reference to a request the Old Man had made a fortnight before, that I should print something off the computer for him. In fact, he wanted me to rub some DiproBase onto a sore spot on the crown of his head.


“I’ll call you back,” I told the Old Man at the end of a short telephone conversation.
“What, now?”
“No, Dad. I wouldn’t call you back now, I’d keep on talking.”


I phoned the Old Man one evening, and for a moment I could hear the sound of the TV in the background. Then he switched the sound off.
“What were you watching?” I asked him.
“I wasn’t watching anything.”
“Yes you were, I could hear it. If you weren’t watching TV, what were you doing?”
“I was drawing lines in my little book.”
The Old Man does have an A5 exercise-book, which he uses as an address-book, but I don’t believe he draws lines in it.

[Original postings 1 November 2009]

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