During my training I was introduced to Jean. Jean had contracted Polio as a young woman which had seriously disabled her. Now at the age of eighty she required a caliper on one leg and the use of crutches. I would be required to attend her every Thursday morning when her regular carer Jenny was on her day off.
We entered the bungalow by a key code and the initial job was to open the curtains in the lounge and then go to Jeans bedroom and gently wake her. She was a thin woman with a crotchety aged face which entirely reflected her personality. Very grumpy, but who could blame her with the pain and limitations of her life.
After Jean had pulled herself up into a sitting position with the aid of a hoist above her bed I was shown how to put on put on her knickers and heavy woollen tights and then the caliper which was quite a complicated affair. Jean was assisted into her dressing gown and slippers and was then, with the aid of her crutches, able to stand and walk to the bathroom.
We left her to her ablutions and went to the kitchen to prepare her breakfast which consisted of toast and marmalade. This was prepared in a refined way, toast on a plate and butter and marmalade in separate pots, tea in a teapot with a cosy placed on top and milk and sugar in bowl and jug and a china cup and saucer. Added to this where several medicinal tablets which were kept in a drawer.
By this time Jean was seated in an armchair in the lounge near the window and had switched on the television to watch the news. We wheeled in her breakfast on a wooden tea trolley with an embroidered cloth which was placed by her side.
Finally we were able to say good bye and leave Jean to enjoy her breakfast.
I was absolutely petrified of this woman and dreaded my weekly morning visit. It was irrational really as this lady was completely in my power because of her disabilities but she expected perfection and if jobs were not done to the letter she was sharp in her comments and made one feel stupid.
I wasn’t just me. Jean had been the chairperson of the local Disabled Drivers Association and everyone was terrified of her but admitted she was magnificently organized.
Although I was apprehensive every time I went I had to admire her. She had given up her car when things got too difficult but had a sturdy motorised wheelchair which took her to the town centre a mile away,
One day she decided to take a jaunt to the countryside but down a quiet country road the battery gave out in her chariot leaving her stranded. Jean was not fazed and with her crutches managed to walk a short distance to a farm house where the farmer was able to give her a lift home and she was able to arrange for the local garage to pick up her carriage and transport it back to home.
Jean was not all sharpness as one time when I mentioned my alarm clock had broken she said she had a spare that had belonged to her father. I rummaged through the drawer she pointed to and found a very nice working wind up clock in a box. I took it home and that night set it for 6am the following morning. Fortunately I usually wake up early and this morning was no exception. I looked at the clock which said 2am and knowing this could not be right groped for my watch which read 5.45 am! The clock had lost several hours in the day! On investigating the back i noticed a label for a repair for Mr Simpson dated 1958, some fifty odd years before! I never told Jean but allowed her to think her fathers clock was still “ticking!”
I visited Jean many times but never lost the fear!