None of us realised how bad Dame M was. Does that sound familiar in reference to an ageing relative or friend? At 83, she ought not to expect to be a picture of health, but really the decline has happened quite quickly, over the period of a year or so. Her frequent non appearances at social events, even though she arranged them, ought have sent our bells ringing. Instead we got slightly miffed at her standing us up.
Although she had very bad eyesight, she was never the same after her cataract operations that were to help her. Her sight continued to deteriorate because of macular degeneration, a prime cause being smoking. She was told that unless she gave up smoking, she would soon go blind.
She gave up both smoking and drinking. I would advise anyone of her age to not take such drastic action. It was clear that she had no intention of going out anywhere soon. R and I visited her a month ago for a chat and to see her new aircon unit she had installed.
She rang last week, ostensibly to ask us to investigate some fit over sunglasses, but she said that she had stomach ulcers and complained that she had not seen our mutual dyke friend, T.
R rang T's girlfriend, as T was in Sydney on business and expressed some concern. Word got back and last night T rang us to say that she had been to see Dame M and she was very unwell. The boarder has been trying to get her to eat, but clearly her deteriorating physical condition was beyond him to deal with. Dame M was skin and bones and she has barely arisen from her bed. She just lies there listening to talking books supplied by the marvellous Low Vision Clinic. She barely eats a crumb of food nor drinks anything except for one glass of wine at night. Because of lying so much in bed, she has developed bed sores.
T rang Dame M's doctor to find out that he has moved on elsewhere. T made an appointment with her own female doctor and tomorrow night R and T were going to visit Dame M to convince her to see the doctor. Circumstances have changed and Dame M is quite willing to go to the doctor. She admitted to being frightened and sometimes disoriented.
I just hope this doctor is good. It is time for a bit of reality. She really needs proper help. Dame has gone in a brief time from being a social, outgoing vibrant and amusing grande dame, to being a shrivelled old woman who can barely cope.