2 a.m. Saturday morning. I have a headache and I am tired.
I am not in bed, which is where I thought I would be some hours ago, when the call came.
Yet again I am stood next to a gurney in A+E where my ma is lying in her nightie, waiting for a doctor to come and look at her. My pa is sitting on the chair next to us looking anxious and tired and yet relieved. I am there now, he won't need to mop her brow or listen to the staff or ask/answer any questions.
The mister is out in the waiting room trying to get some sleep on a hard plastic chair.
Ma is looking sad and sorry for herself and apologising to me for being a nuisance.
The lights are shining on the patches of pink skin that can be seen through her thinning silver hair.
I hold her hand and tell her not to worry.
We live just over an hour away from ma and pa.
We visit every week.
The fact that I wrote 'yet again' a sentence or so ago, explains perhaps why I am struggling with such mixed emotions at the moment. Why it is a struggle to not be angry and frustrated at the old woman looking so pathetic in front of me, and to remember that she is ill, in a way.
Ma thinks she has had a heart attack, or has a broken rib, as she has a pain in her chest.......'it's just here' she keeps saying as she moves her hand across her ribcage, all the while burping and saying she feels sick.
Pa rang me at 9pm last night to say that they had called an ambulance..........but we were 'not to worry' and that he would get a taxi home from the hospital....'she's bad...I don't know what to do..' he says in his quavery scared voice.........the voice that says without saying, as the mister points out, 'come and help us'.
Wearily, we drive to the hospital and spend hours until the early morning in A and E until some kind medic tells us what I had known before we even got into the car for the journey. That ma has not had a heart attack or broken a rib, that acid reflux and GAD are the reason for us all being there until 4 in the morning. The ECG, the examinations, the blood tests, the x-rays, are all normal. Not news that gives any succour to my ma. 'My leg hurts so bad sometimes..', she says almost hopefully, and a kind young doctor tells her that the pulse in both legs is great and there is no circulation problem there.
The circulation problem is in my ma's head.
Weeks ago she had been discharged from the heart clinic. She was fine said the lovely lady consultant. The lovely lady consultant that my ma liked and never wanted to stop seeing. Ma was not happy with being discharged and if I were honest I could have put money on mom 'having a heart attack' in the weeks following this discharge.
I have lost count of the number of times we have had this journey, and the number of times that I have hated myself for being so angry with her and yet so sad for her at the same time. Her GP is losing or may even have lost patience with her now.
She is 81, partially sighted, with an irregular heart beat and a lifetime of being unhappy, self absorbed and to my mind a hypochondriac. If a medic suggests a test for diabetes or kidney problems or heart problems, then she will tell all and sundry that she HAS diabetes/kidney problems and has had heart attacks......she doesn't seem to hear the 'all tests were negative' bit that follows, and if we gently re-inforce that it is good news, she is well, then she is perplexed and says 'what is wrong with me then?' and gets angry.
Now she is home, in bed, and I am scared that one day the call will come and I will not go and she will die.