Jeanne Ellin: spitting, hopping mad!

old fashioned telephone on a table

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Spitting, hopping mad!

old fashioned telephone on a tableWas just beginning a belated breakfast yesterday when the phone rang. The caller was ‘Pauline’ from the call centre, which responds to our emergency pull cord system. It is meant to be a source of help.

But the centre is based several hundred miles away. It is just a call centre. I was unaware that they even had my landline number. I certainly did not give permission for it to be used in this way.

“Jean, we have just had a cord pulled in the lounge. Will you go and see what the problem is?”

My name is Jean-ne, two syllables, but I do not correct her.

The lounge is in a different building with many doors between and a particularly heavy security door to navigate.

A diabetic, I was eating my first meal of the day, still in my pyjamas. It was raining heavily and it can take me up to 40 minutes to get dressed. I said none of these things, they have my regularly updated notes available and she may not realise the lounge is in a separate building.

“No.”
“Are you saying you will not go?”
“No way will I go.” I put the phone down.

If the alarm was pulled in the communal area an operator would have responded asking the puller what the problem was. Presumably there was no answer. The likely possibilities include a new resident mistaking the cord for a light pull and not answering out of embarrassment or someone pulling the cord then becoming too unwell to respond.

I no longer have the resources to deal with such situations but I felt the pressure of the caller’s expectation that I would. My then low blood sugar rendered me more suggestible.

I have learnt through painful experience what my new limits are and the penalties for overstepping them. These include a sudden rise in blood pressure, for which I take medication, the risk of a stroke and if I interrupted my meal, dipping blood sugar levels. Exertion and stress can worsen my M.E. and have done so in the past.

This episode left me shaken and worried. It suggests a gap in provision in an emergency. The lounge is communal and we can all access it but individual flats are not. Fortunately, as the thought of emergency help from another frail resident is quite concerning.

My daughter, when consulted, pointed out that among other issues it was an abuse of the data protection act to use my phone number in this way. She is writing to our M.P.

On rereading this I am uncomfortable with what I have written. There is just so much detail, so many excuses, so many reasons. It takes me a while to work out why.

I think it is because I have been reminded of all that I can no longer do. I mind not being able to help. I have been a nurse since I was seventeen and always worked in caring or creative jobs. Being put in the position of having to refuse to help was painful.

It has taken me so much work to accept my limitations.

Please do comment on this article below. Jeanne enjoys your feedback.


Jeanne Ellin

About Jeanne Ellin

I am a poet working at living a creative life in a one room flat, companioned by a menagerie of chronic health problems. I began this series of posts after being inspired by two women younger than myself, who, fearful of their imagined old age spent in ill health and poverty, committed suicide. I explore every year as a bonus of adventures, with moments of discomfort or fear, but with unexpected treasure to be found - helped by a sense of the ridiculous, a world perspective and creativity.

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