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Surviving the survival aids


Sometimes, things that are meant to help can be quite the hindrance

Sonia Kelly

It’s pretty hard to mitigate the afflictions that beset one at the age of 97. But people do their best – sometimes with surprising results.
I fell over a while back and was consigned to bed. Not any old bed, but one supplied by the hospital on the grounds that my normal bed would give me a sore tail. (They totally disapproved of the rubber ring.)
So, a new bed was eventually installed.
Well, all was fine until the mattress started yapping. Then, shortly after, another dog started barking and growling from a different direction. Having ascertained that no dog was visiting, I soon relaxed. The barking began to subside, but it was soon replaced by a horse kicking me in the back. But it seems you can get used to anything – or almost.
It now happens that a cat has established itself in my ear, in the form of a hearing aid. Every time I move my head on the pillow it emits a loud screech, which is very disturbing.
So, being in bed now is like being in ANIMAL FARM!
This bed is also a cage, with metal bars erected on each side to prevent my escape. My legs object to this state of affairs, and lose no opportunity to slide over the the right-hand corner of the bed as though poised to reach for the floor. This upsets visitors, who hurry forward to straighten me up, thus incurring the distress of the legs, which waste no time in resuming their former position.
At the hospital’s insistence, my electric blanket had to be replaced by an over blanket. If not, the occupant of the bed would be fried, they said. But the snag is that it switches itself off after nine hours, so now the occupant either freezes to death or her carer has to get up in the night.
The panic button must be a comfort to the old and isolated. I have one, although I am not isolated. It’s supposed to be worn around the neck, but I kept pressing it accidentally, causing panic among members of my rescue team, who would all converge on me fearing the worst. So I took it off and hung it on the bathroom door.
Then there is the loud hailer, or megaphone, which is extremely useful when the cat in my ear isn’t functioning. But it has a mysterious button that gives off an air-raid siren, which sometimes so startles the user that it gets dropped. Sometimes the user will refuse to use it again.
But, as I said, one gets used to anything, and I’m grateful to have the choice.
Finally, there’s the telephone – in my case audibly enhanced for easier understanding. And it works for most people, but not for the man who gabbles incomprehensibly about my computer. Readers, I do not have a computer. So I have solved the problem by not answering the phone before 9am. Simple really!

A published author and poet, and a former Mayo News columnist, Sonia Kelly is the founder of the Cloona Health Centre in Westport.