dog show

‘Get out of my house!’
‘Okay. Will you move your scooter for me?’
‘No! Move it yourself!’
It’s not as easy as it sounds. The hallway’s only slightly wider than Geoff’s mobility scooter. When it’s on charge, they have to park it up against the front door to have access to the rest of the flat, to the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. If someone comes to the door, they move it forwards. I’d been impressed to see how easily he’d moved it back once I was in the living room, draping his hand across the console without seeming to look all that much.
‘Wow! That’s impressive!’
‘I’m used to it,’ he’d said.

The irony was, I hadn’t come to visit Geoff. His wife, Rita was the patient, on our books for obs and bloods, help with washing and dressing and meal preparation. I was there at lunchtime to see what she needed. I’d repositioned her corset – a complicated, strappy affair designed to help with her spondylosis. All she needed was a pair of sunglasses and a hard-hat, and she could be a SWAT officer, one that had taken up position at the end of the sofa and forgotten about these fifty years.
With the corset successfully repositioned, I’d gone into the kitchen to set about preparing Rita’s microwave meal. Whilst it was cooking, I’d come back into the lounge to write up the notes.
‘What about you, Geoff? What do you do for lunch?’
‘Me? I make myself a microwave meal.’
His answer hung in the air between us. I tried not to say anything, but I’d been frantically busy all day – all week, actually – and I just couldn’t resist.
‘Do you think you might be able to make Rita something to eat at the same time?’
‘I’m sorry?’
‘Whilst you’re there. You know – two at once.’
‘I’ve got serious health problems. I can’t be standing on my feet for that long.’
‘I could get you a perching stool. You could rest while they were cooking.’
‘No! That’s what you’re here to do.’
‘I know. But I’m just saying… we’re pretty stretched at the moment…’
‘That’s not my fault. Hire some more people if you haven’t got enough.’
‘I wish we could. The fact is, though, we’re horribly short-staffed. And if you’re already in the kitchen preparing food…’
‘Get out of my house!’
‘I don’t think it’s an unreasonable thing to ask, Geoffrey…’
‘Go on – get out!’
‘Okay. Will you move your scooter for me?’
‘No! Move it yourself!’
It takes me a few goes. The joystick is extremely sensitive, and because I’m standing off to the side I find it hard to judge the angle. After a few awkward attempts, I manage to move it along enough to squeeze past.
I’m going to be writing to the papers, you know! he shouts after me.

When I get back to the office Michaela calls me over.
‘Mr Rawling’s been on the phone,’ she says, a brisk shine to her voice. ‘He said you were rude and aggressive and stormed out of the house.’
‘That’s ridiculous! I didn’t storm. He asked me to leave, so I did.’
‘He also says he fell on the floor.’
‘So what did I do – step over him?’
‘Hmm,’ she says, reading her notes. ‘He’s also asking for more care.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Meal prep. For both of them.’
‘Oh come on! He’s doing it out of spite. He’s perfectly able to make his own meals. He goes out every day on his scooter. He told me he wouldn’t be there tomorrow because he was entering the dog in a dog show, for goodness sake.’
‘Nice dog?’ she says, closing the folder.
‘Lovely, Michaela. Very cute.’
‘Well that’s something.’
‘Yep. I’m good with dogs. Maybe I should quit and re-train as a veterinary nurse.’
‘Don’t say that, Jim! It’ll be fine! Don’t worry! But you know we do have to be open and take these complaints very seriously.’dogshow
She holds my gaze.
I have an unsettling image of myself as Geoff’s dog at that show. I half expect her to bend down and pull back my lips to check my gums. But she just smiles and touches me lightly on the shoulder.
‘Don’t worry,’ she says. ‘That’s all for now! I’ll be sending out a senior clinician to investigate. Thank you, Jim!’
And she takes a step backwards to watch as I trot round the office.

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