September 12th – Under pressure …

“Before” (old kitchen)If love means never having to say you’re sorry, fear is having an eastern European demolishing the back wall of your otherwise comfortable and well-insulated house with a Kango hammer. We’ve got the builders in …

Costa’s guys have only been here a week and, already, I am lamenting the fact that they don’t flush and leave the seat up, and the house is full of plaster dust. The old kitchen units are on eBay and John and I have retreated to the first floor of our Fulham house: washing up in the bath and cooking on two rings in the “living room”: previously the front bedroom. It is almost as if we have entered a time warp and stepped back 14 years!

Actually, I am not sure whether our current conditions are better or worse than when we first bought the freehold and started to convert the two flats back into a house. At least we are only dealing with one room this time, even if the room in question comprises half the ground floor. Back in the day, we stripped out the entire first floor: ceilings, walls, everything in fact, except one bedroom. I have fond memories (not) of arriving home from work and finding John and Bob Masterton looking like a pair of coal miners and the entire house being coated in a fine film of dust from the lathe and plaster. And here we are 14 years later doing the same thing. “It’s what you two do …”, commented John’s exasperated daughter.“After!” (Work in progress)

The plumbing problems are reversed. Now instead of having no water on the first floor, we have no water on the ground floor, meaning many tedious treks upstairs for the plasterer and much ill-humoured hoovering for me. It also means weekly trips to the launderette – from whence I write, with a row of churning machines for entertainment. Every now and then I get a wave from a very large pair of purple knickers (not mine … or John’s either, before you ask) twirling around in the machine opposite!

I did, however, have a complete sense of humour meltdown over our clean linen, after dust funnelled up into the airing cupboard from downstairs. So I left it for a service wash with the Freddie Mercury look-alike who runs the launderette.

All together now, “I want to break free …”!

I am perfectly sure Mum also wants to break free. She has, and I hesitate as I write this, made a sustained improvement over the last two weeks or so. The CT scans don’t show much change, but her infection markers have been down and her temperature has been more normal. Gradually she is regaining her strength.

Nice “Dr Tim” says that Mum’s progress is remarkable, considering her age. I hadn’t previously taken in that Critical Illness Neuropathy can take 6 months to recover from. So the fact that Mum can smile, wave, clap and make thumbs up signs is very encouraging.

Mum still cannot talk as the plumbing for the ventilator bypasses her voicebox. However, the hoses are now only connected at night. During the day Mum is doing all the breathing work herself with minimal support from an oxygen mask slung loosely over the trachy pipe. A bonus of this arrangement, is that the nurses can wheel her up to the roof terrace, swathed in sheets and blankets, for a dose of early autumn sunshine … which reminds me, I must go and look for a pair of sunglasses.