It was a challenging day today – well, a little more challenging than usual. It all began, as every day should, with a cup of tea. Today, however, Sigoth mumbled at me in bed about how he “supposed” he “ought” to get up and make the tea. Because I am a sensitive and thoughtful kind of partner I proposed that I do it instead and the wretch had the nerve to agree. Well, I ask you! He always makes the tea. Do I look like the kind of person who makes tea first thing in the morning?
Anyway, up I got and stumbled down the stairs. The very nice newspaper man chose this moment to push my mother’s paper through the door.
To recap, I have a demented mother and she lives with us in a granny annexe we built to accommodate her every need. Sadly we did not predict that she would develop dementia so all my plans to allow for a stair-lift and a downstairs shower room came to nought. Still, she has her comfy armchair and she has her television and she sings to herself contentedly, She also enjoys a morning paper.
A while ago, maybe a year or so, we had a difficult period when she found the newspaper headlines distressing and frightening. She is attached to one of the red-tops, because it was the one her parents always bought, back in the days when it was actually a real newspaper and reported actual news. She never quite understood the metamorphosis it underwent at some time in more recent years from daily reportage to mindless fantasy, round about the time Sauron became the owner. As a result she believed what it shrieked at her from its poisonous headlines about immigrants, health scares, the weather and Princess Diana.
It runs on a cycle usually between those four. Lately of course it has been making hay while the sun fails to shine and the country slides beneath the waves in watery Armageddon. If it came in multimedia format it would be chortling with glee and rubbing its pages together in a frenzy of delight over how absolutely terrible things were.
I literally was considering telling her that the paper had gone out of business and substituting the i. Then she lost another part of her brain and no longer was bothered, so I left it alone. She likes the cartoons and photos of the Queen or kittens or whatever.
But today this paragon of journalistic achievement had finally become disenfranchised with the flooding and moved back to the familiar territory of NHS-bashing:
NHS ban medicine if you are ‘too old’ in new attack on Britain’s elderly
Today I was thankful that my mother no longer understands enough to be frightened by this spurious claptrap.
In the interests of fairness and proportionality there are other red-tops which provide similar levels of nonsense. Indeed even the so-called broadsheets (some of which are now confusingly in tabloid format) can come up with total nonsense but they use longer words so that it takes longer for the poison to seep through.
My automatic instinct is to stand on the opposite side of whatever these headlines proclaim and usually I find I am then in the right place. Vide:
- When there are conspiracy theories about Royals, I trust my instinct that the government is nowhere near competent enough to carry out such complex operations successfully.
- When it’s going to be the worst weather in a thousand years I assume that they are referring to a bit of a breeze in the Home Counties and not to anything which will affect me north of the Watford Gap.
- When there is a new health scare or a new wonder drug I am generally correct in asserting that they are neither new nor scary/wonderful, but merely statistically interesting.
- When it refers to immigrants and/or benefits scroungers, I understand the hacks are on some kind of manic auto-pilot and suspect their own mothers would be ashamed.
So today, as well as having to be thankful that my mother is so incapacitated that she can’t follow the headlines, I also found that by logical extension of my usual position I support the notion of withholding treatment for elderly people because they are old.
Damn. I’m not that person.
Yet I have to recognise that in fact that is the very position I have had to take recently on behalf of my mother. The doctor and I had some long chats about it following some internal bleeding and general deterioration. We have withdrawn the anti-coagulants which were exacerbating the bleeding and she has rallied very well. The invasiveness of the procedure to check for bowel cancer would be so stressful it is unlikely to be worthwhile, especially as she would not survive any surgery or chemotherapy to treat any cancer that was found. She may not even have cancer; it may have been a tear which is healing. The only way to find out is, as I said, too invasive and would possibly be inconclusive anyway.
Why would I put her through it? She wouldn’t understand what was happening. She may have a stroke or heart attack from the stress. And the results may not show anything, and even if they did, the treatment would kill her.
So I agreed to withhold the anti-coagulants, and yes, it was largely because of her age.
It turns out I am that person. Damn again.
She’s 87 in a couple of weeks. I am interested to know if she recognises her birthday this year. She uses the paper to keep track of date and was able to tell me when it was Christmas Eve, which was unexpected. She hasn’t remembered her wedding anniversary or my birthday for a number of years now. But her birthday was still there in her addled mind last year. We can but hope this year it is too.
I’ve made a decision for the right reasons. Now I just have to forgive myself for making it. And that tabloid isn’t helping.