As promised I went to visit my friend Jan who is in her early forties and has a horrific type of MS. Jan lives in a nursing home as she requires 24/7 care.
Jan and I met in the late 1990’s and we hit it off immediately. I liked Jan because she didn’t treat me any differently just because I was a Manager. As a manager I found some staff just brown nosed you all the time and tried to manipulate you to get what they wanted, whilst others just wouldn’t speak to you either because they didn’t like managers or they were just intimidated. It was a real shame as I worked hard to be fair and consistent with all members of staff. Jan was different she didn’t care that I was a manager we spoke as equals and had a laugh about life, work and anything else that we could take the mickey out of.
We didn’t see each other outside of work until much later in our friendship. Jan had been ill health retired from work, her MS suddenly deteriorated overnight and she could no longer walk. She had persevered at work despite being in horrendous pain and her sight deteriorating. At this point no one really knew what was wrong with her. Some Dr’s suggested it was stress or just all in her head. It took until she could no longer walk for the Dr’s to diagnose that she had MS and it wasn’t the kind where she would have any remissions it would only get worse.
When I became too ill to work in 2008 I was clearing out some handbags and came across Jan’s telephone number. I rang her and we chatted for over an hour. We started chatting a couple of times a week and then it became everyday. I would try and get to see Jan at least once a month. Then all of a sudden I couldn’t get hold of Jan and she had been taken into hospital and she never went home after that.
In 2009 we ended up in hospital at the same time, on the same ward in beds next to her. Jan was pretty poorly but she was still a feisty bird. It was the most enjoyable hospital stay either of us has ever had. It was a pretty rough time for both of us. Jan was waiting to be admitted to a rehabilitation unit and I was in for tests. We ran rings around the nurses and generally caused as much trouble as we could just to amuse ourselves.
She tried the various MS drugs but nothing helped. The MS was waging war against her body and she had no way to fight it. However Jan wasn’t going to give up easily and fought it tooth and nail. She liked her independence and that is what she has found so hard to give up as she can no longer care for herself. She spent nearly a year in hospital before she was well enough to move into a nursing home and that’s where I went to visit her today.
I explained to Jan about my blog and said I could take her picture and put it on my blog. She asked if she would be famous and I said indeed she would now be famous! So to honor her wishes Jan is now on the Internet on my blog.
I spent three hours with Jan chatting about the dogs, people we both know and our old place of work. Jan doesn’t get many visitors and I got very upset today when she told me I was the best friend she ever had. I feel I let her down badly by not being able to visit her, due to my own poor health. I do write to her at least once a month but she is so isolated. Her family visits but there are only two people that visit her from work and she was friends with a lot of people. Her situation is a lot like mine but at least I have the Internet, Jan’s sight is so poor that she couldn’t see the computer screen. Her hands have contracted like claws and she wouldn’t be able to type, her speech has also been affected so voice recognition technology isn’t an option either.
The staff seem very nice at the home although a little busy. Its a nursing home so its patients suffer from a variety of ailments mainly dementia so its a little noisy too. Jan’s room is full of photographs and her beloved snoopy collection. It has a lovely view over the garden. Its a nice place, bright and cheerful and much better than the village hospital that she was in. The room she had there was more like a prison cell.
Jan has deteriorated in more ways than I had anticipated. Jan was always really mentally alert and funny. Today she was a shadow of what she once was. Initially she seemed like the same old Jan, for about 20 minutes it was all as it would always have been, both of us in fits of laughter. Then she asked me how I was getting on in my flat. I realised then that she was having memory problems. I moved from my flat over 7 years ago, Jan knew that. She couldn’t remember if hubs and I were still together, she did remember I had dogs though. We spent 3 hours chatting sometimes it was about things we had talked about earlier, I didn’t care it was just good to see her. She enjoyed the visit, I think it was the longest visit she had ever had. Time flew by and I knew Jan was starting to tire so I called hubs and he came and got me.
It was bitter sweet today. I loved seeing her but it also made me very sad that a woman in her forties life has been destroyed by MS. Jan was a hard worker and very comical. It was just so sad to see, but she still has her sense of humour and winning smile as you can see from the photo.
So Jan, you are famous as promised you appear on my blog.