Dorothy was this sweet, flimsy little woman who compliantly (in a strangely also defiant way) followed the rushed and caring Polish carer who she seemed attached to by an invisible rope.
When I arrived with my big suitcase to take the care job in Uxbridge she greeted me indiscriminately, not knowing who I was, why I was there and not seeming perplexed as to why I started walking by her side and talking over her tiny head to the Polish carer on her other side. I thought I ought to introduce myself and let her know I’ll be staying…How rude of me to have skipped such a necessary step for the beginning of a ‘normal, easy-going relationship’. But little did I know this would not be a normal relationship.
The announcement of my stay was met with an indignant look: “I wasn’t told about that!” she accusingly said to the rushed carer. While that startled me and enveloped me in an air of awkwardness her carer Izabela shrugged her shoulders, laughed and said: “Yes you were. I told you many times.” To that my nervous smile coincided with Dorothy’s yet again confused, indignant expression.
During the rest of the walk I attempted to better introduce myself and explain to an already confused old lady my complicated relationship to Izabela (my dad’s girlfriend and soon to be mother to my youngest brother) and my background (born and raised in Brazil, having lived all my teenage years in Northern Ireland and moved to Plymouth for University – and I must add: all of that said in a very mixed accent). She politely pretended to follow and be interested in all that.
For the rest of the day I watched the stubborn tiny woman be hurriedly and efficiently (yet with a lot of caring attention) guided to bath, to dress, to have her dinner and to go to sleep.
Being in a hurry to quickly train me for the job in half a day the bath was given quite quickly. Complaints such as: “how little water!”, “I don’t remember the last time I had a bath for longer than 5 minutes” were certainly not measured or scarce. Between complaints and bickering a complicated loving relationship seems to show through.
I looked forward to the day that I would be left to become her carer. I also feared it immensely. The very next day would be it and I would be left free to use all the useful tips I recorded in my notebook in my head. I would also be able to do things my way and possibly apply as much of my knowledge and skills recently gained as a Psychology graduate. What I didn’t know is that it would take several weeks of cohabitation and work to tailor a care style that would cater for both of our needs.
While I though: “how much work can such a tiny, flimsy lady be?” reality soon struck that I was not prepared for what such a tiny, flimsy lady with the necessary neuro-degenerative condition can put me through in only five minutes!