Ann and Joe Chapter 1
Same old plot – I’ll think of something new eventually! I know that some people like this scenario. I do to, so I hope those who like it enjoy it.
Joe’s recovery was trying for both him and his wife Ann.
Ann was trying to juggle her job as an executive with an international company with caring for Joe, and there was still their large home and grounds to look after. They had a gardener, who now took on Joe’s chores in the garden as well, but Ann had always liked to do her own housework, and continued to do so.
It was six months after the accident, and Joe was still struggling. He was whole physically, but he still had motor problems. His coordination was not improving as well as had been hoped. The months in hospital had robbed him of much of his strength, and he still had a lot of trouble with simple tasks. He emotional state continued to be fragile, and his short term memory was not up to complex tasks. He needed reminding often for ordinary things, and would surprise Ann by odd behaviours such as forgetting to put his pants on after his shower bath unless Ann helped him dress, or he would ask silly questions or misinterpret straightforward things. In short, he could be a trial, even for Ann who loved him.
Ann had found that she had to institute some rules around the house. She couldn’t trust Joe in the kitchen, for example, so he was banned from there without Ann being present. He no longer drove, of course, and couldn’t use the keypad on the phone, or a keyboard. Ann had been working from home as much as she could, but that practice had been taking a toil on her work, and much as she tried not to, she had begun to resent having to supervise Joe most of the day.
Joe was OK settled in front of the screen, watching the material he liked. He wasn’t interested in talking heads, and couldn’t follow complex storylines. He wasn’t interested in current affairs any more, and although Ann had tried to follow the doctors’ directions and push him towards more challenging material just as Joe’s physical therapy was intended to ask increasingly more of him, she felt less guilt as time went on about taking the easy option and letting Joe watch the cartoons and childrens’ programs he preferred. She even lied slightly to the doctors about that, justifying her decisions by reminding herself how irresponsible Joe had been in lying to her about what he was doing at the time of the accident. He had been drunk, and had been on his way to visit his secretary, ostensibly as far as Ann could make out to deliver some work material to the girl. Ann suspected it was more than that, but she hadn’t been able to get the story from Joe and the girl herself had returned to New Zealand and was well out of reach. There wasn’t much point pursuing it, anyway. Things were what they were, and Joe was certainly loving in his way, and Ann found a new kind of fondness for him in caring for him. It wasn’t as though Joe was out of reach in any way, either. There were times when he was his old self, just with some physical problems. But most of the time, he was ‘compromised’ as one of the doctors had said, and quite dependent on Ann. They’d had no children, and sometimes Ann found that his affectionate dependence made her feel maternal in a way. Ann did feel guilty about that. After all, he was 28, and while not an imposing physical specimen, he was not a child, even if he did behave like one at times.
Ann looked now at Joe, who was sleeping on the sofa. He often got tired in mid afternoon, and Ann was happy to let him sleep. An afternoon nap reduced the chance of him becoming frustrated and fractious which he did when he was tired. Ann understood how hard it must be for him, and did her best to keep him happy. She smiled at her sleeping husband. He had a favourite pillow, which he tended to clutch close when he slept. He even took it to bed with him now. Ann didn’t mind. They didn’t have sex any more – Joe was effectively impotent now, but he liked cuddling.
Apart from his occasional grumpy turns, the only time he was a real handful was when he wet the bed. He hated that happening, and now that it was happening a couple of times a month, Ann had suggested that he slept in the spare bedroom. He was still welcome in her bed for a cuddle in the evening and in the morning when he would wander in and climb into the big bed they had once shared, but for the bulk of the night Ann preferred him in his own bed with the plastic sheet he resented so much beneath him. It saved a lot of washing. Ann had suggested night time protective pants for him, but he had got so cross she dropped the subject. He’d wet twice in the last week, and even with the plastic sheet it still meant washing the bottom sheet and the pyjamas he now wore, as well as his favoured pillow, which had had managed to soak as well on the last occasion.
A few days later, Ann was asked to attend to some work that had to be done in the office. Ann had minimized it as much as she could, but she still had to be away from home for two whole days. She was ashamed to admit it, but she was looking forward to the break. She had organized with Joe’s physical therapist someone to come to the house, just to keep an eye on things and make sure Joe was OK. She wondered how Joe would take the news. He could be very insistent that he could cope alone, but the few times Ann had left him alone he had had a few issues. There was the pan boiled dry that had initiated the kitchen ban, and another time he had spilled the lunch she had left for him all over the leather armchair he was sitting in. They weren’t big things, but Ann felt that it was still risky to leave him home all day.
‘I don’t need anyone!’ Joe had said predictably when Ann had broached the subject.
Ann had used the phrase ‘sit with you’, innocently enough, but it had got Joe upset.
‘You said a sitter,’ he complained. ‘I don’t need a sitter. I’m a grown man.’
‘Yes, honey,’ said Ann, ‘But you forget things. You drop things. It’s not your fault, but it’s too risky.’
‘No!’ said Joe, and set his mouth in a pout.
Ann couldn’t help laughing. She hugged Joe, and tried to explain again, to more resistance from Joe. She had to put her foot down.
‘Joe, it’s done, honey,’ she said. ‘I’ve arranged for her to come tomorrow and the next day. She has a lot of experience looking after people, and I’m sure you’ll like her. She works with people with problems all the time, and you can just do what you normally do. She’ll be there to help you if you need, just like I am.’
So it was settled.
Peg worked as a nurse at a respite centre for injured adults and children, and she had impressed Ann at an interview at the centre where the therapist had directed Ann. Ann liked the centre too. It seemed a very caring environment, where the patients were accepted with their various issues. Ann decided to keep the place in mind. She hadn’t told Joe, but she was under consideration for a job on the other side of the country for a few weeks. On the strength of what she’d seen at the centre, she had decided to make herself definitely available. She was hoping that if Joe had a good rapport with Peg, it might be possible for him to stay at the centre for a while. Ann decided to have a chat with Peg about it too.
Peg was a no-nonsense woman, well built and deliberate in her actions, but clearly patient and with a kind heart. She had asked Ann a lot of questions about Joe’s behavior and his needs, and Ann felt confident that Joe would be in good hands.
To be continued.