After a comfortable car journey to Heathrow I was transferred to a wheelchair which made travelling long distances around the airport considerably easier. I was even put on a platform hoist to avoid me having to battle with the aircraft steps. One of the considerable advantages that all wheelchair passengers enjoy ease to be whisked through the Foreign Diplomatic and VIP security and passport channels with a minimum of physical inspection.
I must say I was very impressed with Qatar airways. Comfortable wide seats which went quite flat and on which one was able to sleep for an hour or two. A shortstop at Doha, which in many ways was a welcome break and then onto Bangkok. Our prearranged taxi met us at the airport and 2 Â½. hours later we were in our usual rooms, around 11 in the evening.
One of my greatest fears, concerning the success of this holiday, was how I would cope with the steps. Our lagoon house rooms were Â located on the first floor, up two flights of stairs. This, in effect, involved at least six traverses a day. Down for breakfast in the morning; up to change for the morning on the sun bed, then down again; up again at lunchtime to spend the afternoon on the couch on the balcony; down again to catch the evening bus into town for supper and then finally up again for the evening video and whisky before retiring to bed. Amazingly we managed very well. The good doctor placed his arm under my armpit and clapped his hand to my right wrist in a vice like grip. I felt completely safe and we managed the up and down stairs, and many other smaller flights,Â in this fashion. I commend the doctorâ€™s grip to anyone with weak legs. There was only one slightÂ alarm on the steps when I caught my toe but with the doctor hanging on there was no likelihood of a fall.
Of course, I telephoned â€˜my lovelyâ€™ everyday as I have tried to do over the last 46 years, wherever I found myself somewhere else in the world. I must confess however that much of the conversation, when she was in Cornwall, was dedicated to who I’ve now come to call St Michael. â€˜Wonderful, incredible, marvellousâ€™ , echoed the ladies in Cornwall, my wife,Â my sister-in-law, my niece and my mother-in-law it was reminiscent of a chorus from grand Opera (the Nuns chorus). Of course, all of those adjectives apply to the good doctor without whom I could not possibly have even contemplated such a holiday and to whom I owe eternal gratitude. However, the effusive approbation did lead me to ponder, for a second or two, on the â€˜cared forâ€™. Not me in particular but any patient who relies almost entirely upon the good service of another. To be a good carer therefore you have to understand the desperate frustration and loss of dignity felt by the patient at not being able to do the sort of thing that he has always done for himself in the past. Or, when he is struggling to do something, the immense amount of effort required to accomplish even the simplest of tasks cleaning his teeth; turning the pages of the book or picking up a piece of paper.
Another area of concern was what would I do it at night if I wanted to go to the loo. The good doctor had made it clear that he would be happy to be woken by one of the two alarm systems with which we were armed â€“ the walkie-talkie and the emergency button that I hadÂ strapped to my wrist – and come and assist me.
I am glad to say that I devised a method of getting out of bed by myself on the two occasions when I’ve needed relief during the night but on the other 10 nights, despite a full bladder, I managed to hang without disturbing the good doctorâ€™s beauty sleep. I suppose the ability to contain such a large volume in the bladder could well be down to the miracle of the artificial urinary sphincter. (See Â May 2008/Jan2009 entry).
The only true incident of the holiday occurred when I managed to roll off my sun bed and crack one of my lower ribs — no big deal, any idiot could managed to do that but it was very painful for a few days, particularly, in the bed at night.
I was also concerned as to whether I would be able to continue to be feed myself but except for one occasion when my right arm was too weak and useless, by using my left arm under my right arm I could use the lift the spoon to my mouth, albeit occasionally spilling a bit on the way.
So the holiday assumed very much the same pattern as that described in the previous anecdote ‘China and Thailand‘, except, on this occasion the good doctor seemed to have less work to do and was happy to sit with me on the basking platform in the morning, under an umbrella, as he is no sun worshiper, reading his book and keeping an eye on his charge.
As I am unable to hold a book I resorted to audio books, which my son-in-law kindly gave to me, and I must say I was very impressed. The only problem is lying in the warm sunshine with a voice droning in one ear tends to make one Â doze off, from time to time, and therefore inevitably missing vital parts of the story.
One innovation, since last time was our method of communication which I mentioned above. â€˜My lovelyâ€™ bought some robust looking walkie-talkies from John Lewis which means that the good doctor and I could communicate with each other across the lagoon and, if necessary, from room to room. An added aid was an emergency wrist switch which sounded an alarm to a monitor. So between the two devices I felt fairly safe, although to be honest, we rarely had to resort to either.
Evenings were spent very much as before but with fewer visits to Danush, the Royal Boss tailor, as it would have been longer to walk to our favourite restaurants. The first night we went to the Onn OnnÂ corner restaurant and then alternated between that, Smile Moon and the Bam Bam before taxiing home for a video and whisky. Our video on the first night was Gathering Storm a fascinating film about Churchill before the war. The next night we watched a romantic film about the life of Keats, â€˜The Bright Starâ€™. A beautifully made film directed by the same person who did The Piano but which frankly was not really to my taste and therefore I confess I nodded off from time to time.
Although I promised myself I would not start detailing the food we ate, as I did this comprehensively in the earlier anecdote, I cannot resist just describing the first couple of meals. I had five or six enormous grilled tiger prawns with fresh tender squid and crispy vegetables in an oyster sauce andÂ a plate of mixed seafood fried rice shared with Mick.
I rather gave up drinking beer, to avoid my tadpole-like silhouette becoming more pronounced, than it is, but on this occasion and I drunk half Â a bottle.
Mick, on the other hand, is on a diet, determined to â€œlose his spare tireâ€, so he had a bottle of still water which turned out to be twice as expensive as the beer and six times the cost, litre for litre, than petrol! Total cost, including the expensive water, less than Â£8. Compare that, for example, with my favourite starter at Sheekeyâ€™s in London – scallops wrapped in bacon – which would cost half as much again.
Almost, without exception, the weather most days was very kind to us, in the mid thirties and not too humid. However, three days before we left,Â we woke up to an overcast sky which became more threatening as the day preceding until it erupted into a torrential storm. At the time we lying on our sun beds, by the lagoon pool. After stowing our belongings beneath the beds, Â weÂ lay, with knees akimbo, buffeted by the wind and Â the steaming tropical downpour, likeÂ stranded naked toads, unblinking on our huge waterlily sun beds. It was an exciting and pleasant experience.
The extraordinary thing about these trips to this resort is that we always seem to manage to meet at least one interesting couple with whom we strike up a friendship which endures beyond the holiday. On this occasion it was an Australian couple, Christopher (Chris) and Beres Hogan, from the Gold Coast, Queensland Australia.Â Chris is an artist who paintsÂ large colourful abstract paintings using chrome acrylic. He was under contract to the hotel to giveÂ painting lessons both to adults and children and appeared to be very popular. He sold several paintings while we were there so, although they were not entirely to my taste they were clearly attracted to others.
He was certainly a very nice guy. A bit like a chubby semi-bearded Rolf Harris with a ridiculous little hat, covering his shorn head, which, no doubt, was his trademark. Wife Beres, a former engineer, was a very bubbly, blue eyed blonde. Still very attractive despite nudging 60 and having gained a pound or two. They came to our roomÂ one evening and shared some wine with us and we saw them on a number of other occasions where we enjoyed their company. Chrisâ€™sÂ website is www.christopherhogan.me, where you can see his paintings and judge for yourself.
Chris showed us an art book by an incredible man called Chuck Close, who lost the use of his hands, after becoming an established name in the art world, who then changed his style of painting by strapping brushes to his arms and painting in tiny squares, rather like digital photography, with a startlingly effective result. I’m going to try to get a short video of this artist for my blog to inspire others to follow his example.
Sunday night proved to beÂ our last night although we were both convinced that we were not leaving until Tuesday. The problem is one loses all sense of time particularly when one crossesÂ time barriers. Anyway, the hotel manager, Tim Boda, who has become a good friend after so many visits,Â very kindly offered us they free meal so we spent the evening by the edge of the sea enjoying a really delicious buffet supper in an enchanting surrounding.
It happened to be the evening when Thailand had agreed, in common with the rest of the world, to switch off as much electricity as possible as a gesture towards saving the planet. We therefore sat in darkness from 8.30 to 9.30 in the light of a bonfire on the beach and a semicircle of flares, with an almost full moon and other smaller flares and fairly lights here and there in the garden and candles in glass jars on every table. It was a truly magical setting, watching the moonlight heightening the surf,Â some quarter of a mile out to sea, enhanced with soft live Thai music. A wonderful end to what had been a very successful holiday, I hope for the good doctor as well as for me.
I arrived Â with a pale paunchy companion and left with a slimmer, suntanned model who had managed to build up his daily swimming routine to 50 laps and reduced his daily calorie input to little over 1000 and, as a result had, no doubt, Â lost several pounds in weight. Compare thatÂ with me who did not hold back from either food or drink and as a resultÂ increased my tadpole-like silhouette – large round tummy with skinny appendages – not a pretty sightÂ A little touch of envy perhaps from someone who has always been reasonably slimÂ and fit but also admiration for the good doctor’s steadfast adherence to his diet.
Having finished this account I then received a note from the good doctor who had apparently penned a note of a â€˜Day in the life of a Carerâ€™. Which I must confess I read with a degree of humility. I have reproduced it below, virtually unexpurgated, as I believe it to be sensitively written and sharply perceptive of the carer’s role which is all too often overshadowed by the sympathy shown to the patient.
What did I do to deserve such a friend. In his account of a similar visit last October, the good doctor described me, admitted with a degree of affection Â as â€˜an intolerant impatient old buggerâ€™, or words to that effect. I was determined, on this particular visit, to be more attentive to his needs and exercise a greater degree of patience. I leave the reader to decide whether or not I succeeded.
The doctor’s version.
THE ADVENTURES OF A CARERÂ AND HIS FRIEND.
â€˜The Masterâ€™ as he is affectionately regarded by the Carer,Â his friend of more than 50 years,Â clearly, is the more important part of thisÂ Â equation of â€œDisabledâ€ andÂ Â â€œCarerâ€. After allÂ it is he who has to suffers the disease along with its threatening implications; profound indignity and loss the of freedom it entails.
But why â€œThe Masterâ€?Â Certainly he directs the Carer (or rather he believes he does!) – but more important – he is very much in command of his own life.
His courage is exemplary.
He suffers with a quiet dignity and is more concerned about the suffering of others. His determination is inspiring and never flags.
He enjoys every minute of his life and is always seeking new adventures.
He does not waste time and is always active, even when sunbaking!
He is determined to be as independent for as long as possible.
He â€œ..accepts what lies aheadâ€.Â (Poem written by Sir James Darling).
He isÂ aware of the beauty in nature as well as of his fellow man.
He is generous and gives continually to others who are similarly afflicted. A series of his inventions to help the disabled are in development. More will appear.
His thirst for knowledge continues and is prevalent in books, music, nature and the arts.
He has an ability to laugh at the most dire of situations including his own. His life is a â€˜beaconâ€™ for others and this is reflected in his blog,Â www.dmarkcato.com
All disabled folk have these and other qualities in differing proportion. It is these features which add to the privilege of being able to help them. Caring adds immeasurably to the life of a Carer. It is work, but not regarded as such. ItÂ Â is an incredibly inspiring and fulfilling role
It all began, quite simply, with an offer, by the Carer, to come to The Masterâ€™s home in Essex, England, for two weeks or so in order to help. In particular, he sought to benefit the constant and devoted, â€œnumber oneâ€ Carer,Â Alice, The Masterâ€™s loving wife (â€˜my lovelyâ€™). Rapidly, The MasterÂ developed this simple plan, into a â€œholiday in the sunâ€. Not Crete, nor Spain or other closer climes, but Thailand and his beloved Anantara Hotel Resort in Hua Hin, on the Eastern coast, south of Bangkok.Â With his restlessness the, times were advanced to March. The Carer agreed and presented himself for action in Clavering, on the 16th March.
They set forth to Heathrow. The Master, as usual, Â for airline travel, was impeccably dressed. Insisting as ever, in travelling with a jacket and artificial rose adorned with artificial drops of water (explaining that live roses cannotÂ be safely moved between countries) and a tie, appropriate and colourful shirt and flannel trousers. Hair impeccably brushed.
QATAR Business, proved equal to their excellent reputation.
There is a world of wheel chair operators at airports. A forgotten army of helpers, not readily evident, until youÂ need them. They are a caring and patient lot who cope with urgent toilet stops, duty free shopping and ungainly packages and aids. Moreover they know the fast routes through Immigration and Customs.
The Master, once on the aircraft insists with a degree of urgency for earphones to be applied and some film be set in motion.
He talks loudly and frequently has to be reminded to speak more softly â€œand stop shoutingâ€. A thrust of his feet into the air indicatesÂ it is time for his shoes to be removed and travel socks applied. The first of his champagnes arrives served in his plastic feeding cup, with handles and a long straw. He requires dressing for eating. This involves fitting his long apron â€œdonâ€™t ruffle my hairâ€ and with â€œunfoldedâ€ napkin to protect his trousers beyond. Right wrist support with Velcro straps and Mackintosh sleeve arm protector on his left forearm arm. The latter useful as he uses his left arm to elevate the near flail right arm and hand with a fork (his favourite and most useful implement) or spoon, to his mouth. A pusher is effectively snared into the protective sleeve on the left forearm. With appropriate gyrations on his part most of the meal arrives in his mouth- leaving a trail of â€˜ruinâ€™ on apron, napkins and the floor.
Drinks, if not in a bottle (which can support a straw) must be delivered in one of his coffee stained plastic mugs – a less stained mug and corresponding long plastic straw is required for the lighter coloured drinks including champagne, gin and tonic or whisky.
After a two and a half hour journey by taxi from Bangkok the pair arrive at Anantara Hotel Resort, Hua Hin.Â In spite of the heat and humidity â€œHis Lordshipâ€ insists on re applying his jacket and rose in order to present himself at Reception. â€œVery Niceâ€ is all that is heard from the welcoming staff. He then complains of the heat!!
The most fragrant breach of cross infection rules came with the repeated use of the same bright yellow handkerchief (usually to be seen protruding prominently from his jacket) to blow his nose. This continued for days. He had never heard of the disposal of a handkerchief once used, or the more modern use of tissues for this purpose. The Carer muttered repeatedly about this oversight but it was not until he called it a â€œflyblown ragâ€ that progress was made.
The Master constipated â€œbecause of 24 hours of travelâ€ ended up groaning on the loo. Great success was followed by a â€œcompulsoryâ€ shower. â€œ But â€˜my lovelyâ€™ only showers me every second dayâ€ brought no reprieve. In spite of a now blocked toilet, this vestige of the British Empire fell asleep. The Carer was exhausted.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF TWO FRIENDS AT ANANTARA.
The Carer rises at 05.30Â for â€˜quiet timeâ€™. Swimming and walking. Shave, shower and everything out of way and then enters The Masterâ€˜s cold, air conditioned room next door (The Master alternates between the extremes of heat in direct sun andÂ the freezer like conditions in his room). He has shaved and â€œdone my exercisesâ€ by the time he is rolled out of bed (07.00), nightgown removed. Pee followed by cold wet flannel to face-dry. Dress in bathers making sure you scoop up all the â€˜apparatusâ€™ in front. (There is nothing so disconcerting for a Carer than to see a Master in public, with a testicle or something else,Â silently protruding!)
Trousers. He leans on The Carer as these are fitted one leg at a time. They must be done up at the correct height â€œnot too tight and belt on second holeâ€ where it is uselessly loose.
Shirt. â€œNot the top buttonâ€
Hair. He likes it long and closely applied. Water and comb finishing with a brush.Â Frequently when out, he asks about his hair andÂ instructs for it to be straightened. He is keen to avoid the â€œmad professor lookâ€, a look The Carer secretly enjoys believing it entirely appropriate.Â For more formal occasions he demands â€œBoots-Firm Hold-Wet Lookâ€ a tacky blue gelatinous mixture the Carer applies with scorn.
Hessian bag withÂ Â appropriately modified eating implements (spoon and fork with various twists and large handles which he has devised or modified), apron, wrist support and left forearm sleeve. The Carer earnestly trying to recall what is required before the alert Master interferes. It becomes a game for The Carer who built up speed with time and an economy of movement to anticipate requirements before being reminded by The Master.
The Carer opens the bedroom door and they advance onto the world. With a firm grip of his arm the Carer escorts The Master down the stone steps. This is essential as The Master is no longer able to support or protect himself in a fall. On odd occasions the Carer would forget his charge only to look back with chagrin to find The Master perched , forgotten, on the top step.
They walk slowly to breakfast the Carer in front then doubling back to talk. The Masterâ€™s walking is now slow and measured, limited by weakness in his legs and some shortness of breath. In the dining room hordes of adoring and attentive staff descend. Porn, Por, Tarn, Beer are some of those who compete cheerfully with the Carer. They scamper around to fetch orange juice in plastic mug with long straw; a fruit platter on a â€œlargeâ€ plate covered with muesli. The Carer is then off to â€œstealâ€ fruit and orange juice for The Masterâ€™s lunch. The Master isÂ critical of the Carer eating so fast, little realising that the poor fellow is flat out helping and fetching thingsÂ for his friend.
The Master is helped up from the table calling for â€œtwo bits of brown toastâ€ and walks trailing his apron and other bits to where various eggs are being cooked. Poached eggs, omelette or scrambled eggs -â€œnot overcooked or too dryâ€ he says with predictable regularity. Staff escort him back with his prize added to which are five slices of â€œstreaky baconâ€ â€œthe Swedish loin bacon is best with less fat though admittedly less tastyâ€. The Carer is then required to place all this on a half â€œexactlyâ€ slice of the toast with â€œjust a sliver of butterâ€ â€“ then chop it up in order for it to be consumed by spoon. The Carer though, when time is short, resorts to hand feeding. Quick spoonfuls, allowing little time for protest.
Clean up (wiping his chin) and place equipmentÂ into the Hessian bag. Chair out, help him up and off to his room (818 with the extra windows – the Carer next door in 817). It is necessary to lift The Master from low positions. At the foot of the stairs The Master routinely rests. â€œIâ€™ll just rest a minuteâ€- reduced to his impatient seconds,Â before launching upwards with the Carer providing support and lift usually to the right arm which he holds in a vice like grip. (More effective and saferÂ support was identified by having the crook of the Carerâ€™s left arm supporting The Masterâ€™sÂ right axilla or armpit while the Carerâ€™s left hand also gripped The Masterâ€™s right forearm. Straight back, as always, for the Carer!).
One fall occurred when The Master in his enthusiasm (to be independent) missed a step. He fell in a crumpled heap legs twisted beneath. The 73 year old Carer was only just able to sortÂ out the mess and lift The Masterâ€™s dead weight to the vertical.
Into the room and the removal of all clothes – the defaultÂ dress for this man- is requested (demanded).
Off to the loo while The Carer charges around to prepare the Hessian bag for the dayâ€™s activities. The Masterâ€™s nose disconcertingly, always runs after breakfast when on the loo. The yellow handkerchief is â€˜out of boundsâ€™ and he is provided with tissues!
â€œReadyâ€ from the bathroom is a reminder of childhood days. The low toilet demands a hefty lift to remove the occupier (who otherwise could be imprisoned in that position all day). Tidy up and a shower if decided by the Carer. A little whimperÂ again, perhaps to registerÂ his recall of less frequent showers at home. Should he â€˜winâ€™ â€œBaby Wipesâ€
Teeth. Bloody teeth! The â€œmorning sunshine brushâ€ has been left in England, thank God. Listerine swill.- then by a series of contortions the instrument is introduced into his mouth to disperse the applied toothpaste. Then out again and with more contortions and much grimacing the thing is turned on and somehow arrives back in his mouth. â€œThirty seconds each quadrantâ€ seems like an eternity and The Carer hasÂ learnt to more profitably occupy his time at this stage.
His bathers are reapplied with the usual precautions and the Hessian bag checked. â€œStolenâ€ lunch fruit is placed in the fridge and a bottle of water and orange juice is set aside for drinks at the pool with ice served with loving attention provided by the hotel staff.
Down the steps again with support andÂ then walk slowly with The Carer walking in front but waiting to help at bridges and other obstacles. Water and juice are given to the hotel staff and The Master is escorted to his favourite (and hottest spot). The mattress on his sunbaking couch is doubled in order to facilitate his standing unaided. (This though resulted in a fall when, with enthusiasm, he launched himself onto his belly only to rebound onto the decking – causing a painful blow to his chest). Subsequently another couch was alwaysÂ placed beside the former.
The oils are applied as before. â€œAll over and rubbed well inâ€. â€œ50% protector for cheeks, nose and foreheadâ€ and finally lip salve for his lips. Earphones and the selected Penguin Talking Book; glasses, hat and then The Carer, after some 2 hours of constant attention is free (at about 09.30) until ; The Master is too hot and/ or the CD has finished.
The burning heatÂ has caused little blisters on his chest. â€œThey are not blisters but imprisoned sweatâ€Â he states emphatically, quite oblivious of the definition of a â€˜blisterâ€™. Shower, with the garden shower results in the use of some â€œ50 gallons of waterâ€.
â€œIt is not wasted and goes on the garden and there is no shortage of water in Thailandâ€. Not exactly true, according toÂ the Thai newspapers. Following the shower (and he can still operate the handle type taps-but with plenty of grunting!) he sidles up to theÂ outside bar for drinks of â€œstolenâ€ orange juice, water and supplied â€œcrushed- no not the bigger piecesâ€ ice,Â provided by the staff. Characteristically he will talk to anyone who pauses nearby. He is, though, particularly interested in the staff and delights in discovering their backgrounds and thoughts.
Back to resting in a slightly cooler spot and more Penguin Talking Books are set in motion. A magnificent collection. The Master has readÂ all of them many times. â€œI do not snore and I have not been asleepâ€ he announces after a prolonged period ofÂ obvious deep sleep accompanied by snoring, while listening. Already he has devoured â€œCrime and Punishmentâ€, Fydor Dostoyevsky;Â â€œThe Mayor of Casterbridgeâ€, Thomas Hardy and now â€œMiddlemarchâ€, George Elliot, (the last appropriately read by a woman, Harriet Walter). Soon he will be into Dickens – â€œeven though I know them backwards – I began to save for them, first on a paper round,Â when I was fourteen. I purchased the complete edition of Dickens- I still have themâ€.
He and The Carer sit and talk. He smokes and The Carer checks with others it is OK. The banter betweenÂ The Master and his friend covers wide territory. It evolves about the true definition of words and their use;Â Â the life cycle of a pineapple or that of a banana. John Keats and the relationship with his friend Charles ArmitageÂ Brown, their poetry, and that Keats was only 26 years when he diedÂ (1795-1821) and so on. There is no shortage of topics or of interest.
Shower and another â€œfifty gallonsâ€ and he is cooler and ready for the escorted trek to the room. Help is necessary. He could not get there without assistance.
Back to the default dress position â€“ â€˜starkersâ€™. He sits on a towel when sitting on the bed and every day, at.13.30 hours, precisely, his telephone call to his â€˜lovelyâ€™, who has been visiting family in Wales and Cornwall.
Then lunch. â€œstolenâ€ pineapple and pawpaw. Coffee brewed in the machines provided. He has a good appetite more so at airports. The Carer quietly eats a few bananas and green looking mandarins which prove delicious. They sit together on the balcony sipping coffee, chatting happily, and The Master smoking another Villiger cigar. ( The Carer fetches the cigar and holds it to the mouth of The Master, who, with a â€˜slurpâ€™, wets both ends . One end is poked in his mouth and then this bomb like thing is lit before being inserted into his (own design) cigar stand. Then he reads a book supported in a wooden reading frame (elastic bands holding the pages).
Limited sleep at night requires him to rest for an hour or so in the afternoon ostensibly listening to more of the Penguin Classics. The Carer attempts to rest .The Carer now realises that when The Master states, as he frequently does â€œI must doâ€ so and so, it is really a strong suggestion for The Carer to do â€˜so and soâ€™, and to get on with it! These though, are regarded as the murmurs of a restless soul still yearning for independence.
16,00 hours â€œhave you ordered the iceâ€ indicates he needs a drink. Usually gin and tonic with bits of left over orange juice but later at night, whisky and ice. More interesting talk and debate and another cigar. Dress him. Slacks â€œnot too tightâ€ shirt â€œtop button undoneâ€, shoes and then the bloody hair all over again.
Eased downstairs to the hotel bus and into town on the 6 oâ€™clock bus,. Various tourists are interested in the pantomime which occurs. It is amazingÂ how many of them wish to talk or offer a brief â€œgoodbyeâ€ or â€œhave a great dayâ€. This caring business is infectious.
In Hua Hin, The Master and Carer walk slowly to one of their favourite restaurants. The food is excellent and cheap. It is amazing how The Master is recognised from previous years andÂ is viewed with genuine concernÂ by those who know him.
Taxi home to Anantara. High 4 wheel drive (easier for the disabled to enter and leave than the more fashionable Tuk Tuk or lowerÂ seated sedan) . Same drivers each night makes it fun. They are helpful and cheery.
Back toÂ room 818Â by 19.15 hours and to the default dress position!. DVDâ€™s brought all the way from Australia by the film deprived Carer only to be greeted by The Master indicating he had seen them all â€œmany times beforeâ€. Whisky smoothes the evening.
Teeth, and that ruddy machine sometimes during a film. A Pee-goes on forever, but is under control.
Nightshirt with 50,000 buttons. He has relented and not all have to be done up. Into bed with razer, ready for the morning, â€œunpluggedâ€ (he is no longer able to unplug it from the charger) next to him together with extended backscratcher and emergency buzzer. BBC World News blaring forth and still going when The Master is awakened at the beginning of the following day.
This has been theÂ routine for ten days.
The Carer in his brief moments alone, has been reading. He is overjoyed to find his thinking in accord with Michel De Montaigne. (28 February 1533 – 13 September 1592). See, â€œHow to Live. A life of Montaigneâ€. Sarah Bakewell. Also Donald Frameâ€™s â€œTranslation of Montaignes Essays- The Complete Worksâ€.Montaigne understood Caring andÂ he too applied itÂ Â to hisÂ close friend of six years, Estienne de La Boetie who died suddenly of the plague 18 August 1563. (The Master was born on 18 August!) Thereafter Boetie, in spirit, was closely involved with Montaigneâ€™s life
So too, for this Carer and his friend. The Carer, now, has become much more observant of the needs of his friend andÂ those of others. A wonderful gift. The Carer has learnt to mould the needs of The Master onto those of his own. GoodÂ caring requires the close and constant observation of the needs of another. Anticipation is a vital ingredient. This is not new and surely should be a requirement of normal living. Caring is aÂ privilege and involvesÂ real sharing and honesty. The honesty though is more for the disabled person who is stark in their situation. Caring, as with The Master, can be fun. It involvesÂ teamwork.
On the last night, Anantara and Tim Boda, the Manager, generously presented The Master and The Carer with dinner and wine, under a full moon on the beach. The walk home, though, was long and difficult. It seemed as though both friends were supporting the other. In fact they were, much as they have for more than 50 years. Soon, though, it became clear, that one through weakness and shortness of breath had to rest every 20 paces or so.
They returned to England . The Master to the â€œnumber oneâ€ Carer, Alice. The other, â€œnumber twoâ€, quietly â€œrode off into the sunsetâ€ basking in the joyÂ and warmth of his role and what it had meant to him. Realising,Â it is he, who had gained most from this adventure.
He will return.
So, was I tyrant or saint? Certainly St Michael deserves his new title.