Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Diapers Delivery Day

Most of the Royals wear diapers.  At the Castle they’re referred to as pads.  This is one of the ways the Royals are waited on.  They have their pads changed at regular intervals throughout the day.  It’s a messy business, but someone has to do it.
 
Iris was contemplating this while looking at all the boxes of pads piled up in the hallway which had just been delivered when Petunia approached her about what she was doing as an activity for the afternoon.
 
Petunia, “Most of the Royals on this wing take a nap in the afternoon.”
 
Iris, “I know.”
 
Petunia, “There are a lot of Royals sitting around watching a DVD on the other wing.”
 
Petunia was beating about the bush as usual.  Iris replied, “I know.  Stella and I planned it.”
 
Petunia came to her point, “But they need an activity to use their hands.”
 
Iris tried to keep the encounter pleasant and agreed, “I know.  As soon as I’ve got the BBQ invitations done, which is what you asked me to do this morning, I’ll organise something.”
 
Iris hadn’t heard the last of it though.  Petunia called a meeting with the manager to complain about Iris’ attitude later in the day.  It seemed Iris wasn’t quick enough to “do as she was told” especially because she had talked back to Petunia the other day.  Iris had been speaking to Duncan earlier about this “do as your told syndrome, recalling McCarthyism in the US in the 1950’s, how a past employer used to tell her to do as she was told all the time, how lawyers and judges can only do as they’re told because they can only do what lawmakers tell them to do in the law, and how her dad had protested against citizen air raid drills and been arrested for it.  She’d concluded that she wasn’t good at doing as she was told because she had adopted her dad’s attitude.
 
At the start of the meeting, Petunia complained that Iris was sometimes prickly.  Maude picked up on this too for some unknown reason to Iris as she hardly ever saw Maude and the two of them sat there in the office with Iris, saying that she was a prickly pear!  Iris wished she could have said not to rub her the wrong way and then she wouldn’t be prickly, but as usual, she only thought of this great retort afterwards.
 
Petunia:  “We need to up our game and get things happening.  People are complaining that you’re not doing a lot.”
 
Iris,  “All you have to do is look in the notes to see that I am doing a lot.”
 
Maude kindly reminded Petunia that Iris only worked 27 hours a week whereas Petunia had been working over 50 hours a week lately so had a different perspective.
 
Petunia made some reply, but Iris was fed up with the complaining and personal nit picking so she declined to continue the conversation.  Maude then asked what else Petunia had to say and she moved on to the next complaint in her apparently long list.  Iris started to relax when she recognised Petunia’s negative attitude shining through in full glory.  She was thinking it was a shame Petunia hadn't joined her ice massage chill out session yesterday.  Anyway, the rest of the meeting turned from ganging up on Iris and her perceived personality defects to a constructive gang-up on everyone else from nurses to the Royals themselves.

Petunia, “King Sugar shouldn't have gone to the vintage and classical vehicle show.  It was too hot.”

Iris, “King Sugar wanted to go to the show and when we got there, he insisted in sitting in the sun, facing it no less, while I pleaded with him to move to a shadier spot because I was roasting in my uniform.”

Petunia, “Well, I've learned since that people with their condition are very sensitive to heat.”

Iris, “That's interesting.  I guess next time I'll insist that we move to a shady spot against his wishes.”

This was against Castle protocol, of course, which emphasised that the Royals were supposed to have as much choice as possible, but Iris thought maybe a health issue was good cause to ignore this.  However, where one draws the line between choice and necessity varies depending on who is interpreting the situation.  For example, if Iris was to insist that King Sugar stop eating so much sugar because it was obviously contributing to his ill health, she'd never get away with it.  Petunia had a knack of twisting things around to suit her own agenda though, that of mostly bossing people about.

By the end of the meeting, everyone was chiming in about how things were going to develop and improve.  Iris thanked both of them as if they’d just given her a big present and went along her merry way thinking she had been strong not cater in to this negativity attack.  She’d have to face another one soon though, as Petunia wanted to do another supervision, even though Iris hadn’t replied to the last one yet!

Iris was often under attack at the Castle.  From chemicals to depressed Royals to bossy co-workers, there was always something.  Iris was glad she managed as well as she did.  She was also glad that she didn’t wear a pad (like King Sugar, an ostomy pouching system (like Petunia), or a catheter (like King Sugar).  It may seem like a strange thing to be grateful for, being able to eliminate waste without assistance and in an appropriate manner, but many people in the modern world are unable to do this.  Diapers are big business nowadays.  At the end of the day, Iris felt sorrier for the environment having to incorporate all those dirty disposable diapers than she did for herself having to dispose of the Castle's dirty business from her mind.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Another PEG Pouch, Please

As was mentioned in the last episode, Smiley Faces, there’s a new Royal at the Castle.  There have been a few new admissions in the past two months, four others to be exact.  The Castle has two wings with ten ensuite bedrooms in each making a total of twenty accommodations.  Now the Castle houses nineteen permanent residents with one room kept for overnight guests from a list of about five regular visiting Royals.  Some of the Royals have been living at the Castle for years and only one has checked out during this period to move back to his native country, India.
 
Anyway, of the five new Royals, four of them have PEG tubes in their stomachs, including the newest member, Princess Oliophilo.  Before these new arrivals, there was only one Royal with a PEG tube and information about him and PEG tubes in general is in the ever popular blog article called B’org Feeding Tubes.
 
PEGs are handy for the Castle Management, partly because a big portion of the cost of upkeep for each Royal is the provision of food. PEG formulas are a lot cheaper and ordered in like medication.  Also like medication, a doctor’s prescription is required for each formula and the formulas may come under a different heading of expenditure.  The formulas are ordered in bulk as they have a long shelf-life.  The nurse is the one who changes the formula pouches, but it can be done by a carer.  Medications are also administered through the PEG feeding tubes.
 
The Castle has a chef who prepares a lot of the food from scratch.  He orders in fresh food regularly, prepares and cooks it.  Most of the Royals who can eat need a carer to assist them. This can take up to an hour for each meal and be quite arduous.  PEG formulas, on the other hand, are produced en masse in a factory with cheap ingredients and it takes a minute or two to change the pouch.  A machine measures the input regularly throughout the day and has a lovely beeping noise when it’s empty or not working properly.  In addition, there’s no discussion with anyone about what the Royal with a PEG likes to eat or wants as these Royals can’t speak or communicate in a way that would be meaningful in this matter and their relations don’t seem to have much input either.  The Royals get the same type of pouch every day.  They’ll be having a similar pouch for the rest of their lives too and they range from twenty-something to forty-something years old.
 
Iris noted that there used to be a ratio of 16:1 Royals using PEGs and now it was 4:1.  Four times as many.  One fourth the total number of Royals.  This seemed to her to be a sign of the times, “times” being a span of about four years.  Four years ago, Iris went to the doctor about back pain and was referred to a physiotherapist.  About four months ago, she went to the doctor again with the same condition, but this time was offered x-rays and asked why she wasn’t taking any medication.
 
Iris was pondering this when Petunia returned from bringing Lady Louise to her weekend retreat.  She stood with one hand on her hip and asked Iris what she had planned for the day with the attitude that Iris was probably unprepared.  Iris was as polite as she could be, gave a list of possible activities, and then realised that Petunia had something she wanted to do.  They decided to work together with a lot of the Royals to put together invitations for the big barbecue in August, which Petunia had already started the day before.  Iris wished Petunia would just say what was on her mind.  When she saw the invitations, Iris was a bit dismayed when she immediately noticed three mistakes on them.
 
Castle Health Care
Invite You to our
Annual Barbeque
Englande
 
Even the Royals with PEGs will be attending with their relatives.  Iris mused that someday the BBQ might be an activity of the past that was no longer done because all people popped pills and ingested fluids for their sustenance instead of eating food (which will be true if they travel to and end up on Mars, like the at least 78,000 who are planning to do this in 2022).  What do they think they’ll eat?  Not real grilled hamburgers, that’s for sure.
 
 
With instructions like the ones below, it’s no wonder more and more PEGs are showing up.  Iris made some comments (in pink).
 
 
1) It takes too long to eat a meal and it’s not fun anymore. (True for lots of business people too.)
 
2) You are coughing and choking while eating or drinking such that you or your caretakers become anxious.  (Never mind the possibility that the caretakers might be suffering from an anxiety disorder.)
 
3) Pills are too hard to swallow...literally! (Some people choose a PEG tube initially just to help with taking all their medications).  (This is ridiculous.  Medications come in liquids and pills can be crushed or opened.  In fact, medications need to be in liquid form to be administered in a PEG tube.)
 
4) Your respiratory status has been declining and your ALS team is concerned that a delay in tube placement could make the procedure too difficult in the future.  (Too difficult?  Does this mean that the person would actually die a natural death without a PEG tube?)
 
5) Unhealthy, unintentional weight loss that alters your strength.  (Of course, there are lots of other ways to help people gain weight, but the government does not support them.)
 
Iris was a big fan of real food and she felt sorry for the Royals that were reliant on the provision of PEG pouches.  She wondered if there was a connection to the Royals on a PEG food plan and the aspirations of others to live on Mars.
 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Smiley Faces

Petunia, Petunia, Petunia.  Iris was amazed at her audacity.  After causing a commotion by her absence on Monday, she acted as if she knew nothing about it.  Not only had she not offered anyone an apology, she had strutted around giving out orders.  “One of you should be doing one on one with the Royals on the other wing.”  That’s what she had said to Iris and Lily as they sat chatting briefly about Lily’s sister who was born disabled and has lived her whole life in Scotland, many miles away from her family.  Iris was quick to reply and said that Lily was giving her information to put in the notes later, which was true except they hadn’t quite gotten to it at that point.
 
Petunia was supposed to be doing caring work for Lord Frederic.  A twelve hour shift on her day off.  This seemed to be having a bad effect on her already bossy nature.  She was hard at it.  Even though she was supposed to be with Lord Frederic, she seemed to search out Iris after Lily had gone and have a go.
 
Petunia, “What are doing?”
 
Iris, “I’m having a drink of water to cool off and I’m in the middle of several things on the other wing.  Why do you ask?”
 
Petunia, “Eh, I want to know what you’re doing.”
 
Iris, “Why?”
 
Petunia, “The film is over in the lounge and you should do an activity.”
 
Unfortunately, Iris was a bit short in her reply, “I’m not doing an activity.”  She then proceeded to give excuses which had nothing to do with the situation.  Petunia acted as if she was making a mental note of Iris’ refusal to do an activity so that she could use this against her in any way she could think of at a later date.  In a nonsensical supervision perhaps?
 
Iris continued drinking her water and then went over to the other wing.  She stopped to talk to Daniel and the Chef who were eating on the patio.  “I’m going to kill Petunia.”  They both said, “Join the long queue.”  The Chef then started singing the theme song from Rocky and Iris danced around punching the air.  They all laughed.
 
Iris next spoke to the podiatrist in the dining room who was busy working on Queen Nef’s feet.  She showed Iris a corn on one of Queen Nef’s toes and they discussed how she got it even though she sits in a chair when she’s not in bed except for the rare occasion when she walks for ten minutes with a walker and the assistance of a physiotherapist.  The podiatrist said that Queen Nef’s foot must be rubbing on her shoe (a Converse sneaker).  Iris often wondered why any of the wheelchair bound Royals wore shoes at all.  She never wore them in her house.  Then she asked about the other Royals that she needed to see.  Iris discovered that they were all in bed and needed to be put in their chairs.
 
Janine, Judith and Gary were busy with the new Royal, Princess Oliophila, who had just arrived.  Iris went to Janine and asked how she could help to get the other Royals up for the podiatrist.  Janine said to ask Petunia for help.  Iris went to the lounge where Petunia was sitting.
 
Iris, “Janine said you might be needed to help get a Royal or two into their chairs for the podiatrist.”
 
Petunia, “I’m watching Lord Frederick and can’t leave when Nancy is away.”
 
Iris, “I’m sure Janine would not expect you to leave Lord Frederick alone with three other Royals. I think she meant to help when Nancy returns.”
 
Iris then left to check on a Royal on the other wing and passed Princess Sofia who had just returned from the hospital where she had had a check-up.  She said, “I have a smiley face.” Iris, “You do?”  Princess Sofia said yes, lifted up her shirt and stuck out her operation scarred tummy.  It had eyes and a mouth drawn in ink around a bump from a hernia that was next to her belly button.  Sure enough, it looked like a smiley face.  It was funny and Princess Sofia got a few others to laugh at it as well.
 
 
Iris also went with Lord Felix to feed Dylan the rabbit.  They passed some flowers that looked like they had big spiders on top which Iris pointed out.  When they went into the shed, they discovered that there was very little rabbit food left.  They returned to tell Petunia who was in charge of this, and she cornered Iris against a wall with her buxom body, standing really close in an aggressive manner.  Iris was unable to move because Lord Felix was on one side and a chair was on the other. Luckily, Iris was able to bring this uncomfortable situation to an end quickly.
 
Later, Iris popped her head into Earl of Gaia’s room and found Petunia there with Samantha getting him ready.  Iris got a little satisfaction out of having been instrumental in getting Petunia to do that.  Now Petunia was actually doing something useful for a change, she had thought.
 
After dinner, Iris saw Petunia drive off in the mini-bus and they waved to each other with smiley faces.  The conflict was sure to continue tomorrow or was it a comedy?
 
Failing being able to provide a photo of the smiley face on Princess Sofia’s tummy, one on the back of a spider is reproduced for this article from the interesting website called Spiderzrule.com.

Monday, 15 July 2013

A Bridge Over a Motorway

Petunia landed everyone in it this morning.  She organised a day of annual leave for herself at the last minute without advising others and ensuring her duties were covered.  Daniel was the first to get bent out of shape about it because he started work at 8 am and knew that he should have been leaving with Petunia by 9.15 am.  By 9.30 am, when he was expected to be collecting Lord Harold, he got worried.  Meanwhile, Amanda managed to fit in a few snide comments as was her habit and “pushed his button” in the process.

Maude came in at 9.30 am and arranged for Lily, who was working as a cleaner, to drop her duties and be the escort for Lord Harold.  Lily brought him directly back to the Castle instead of going straight to get Lady Louise even though she knew Lady Louise’s dad didn’t like to be kept waiting.

Iris started at 10 am and knew nothing about Petunia’s day off because it wasn't written in the rota or diary that she had thoroughly gone over the day before with Judith.  Maude approached her with the news of Petunia's absence just before Lord Harold arrived.  Iris wanted to keep calm, but people were complaining all around her, mostly because Petunia had let the ball drop but also because of working too many hours, being shunted (as said by Janine) from place to place without prior notice, and other miscellaneous problems.  Iris was tending to Prince Alfred’s bruised thumb with some witch hazel she had gotten from her apartment when Daniel drove up.  Before this, she and Janine had looked for some sort of wipes, such as those used when taking blood samples or cleaning a wound, even in the first aid kit, without luck.  The drugs room was full of drugs, but no wipes.  Iris then had to rush away to go with Daniel to collect Lady Louise and Lord Felix.

As they drove off, Daniel started to complain.  Iris could feel her stomach getting into a knot from having had a full breakfast and then all the stress.  She put her fingers in her ears and said “I can’t hear you.”  Daniel drove ahead with the music turned up.  He tried to pass a couple of cyclists but had to abort the effort and slammed on the brakes causing Iris’ bag to fly off the seat.  That was it.  Iris raised her voice,

“Be careful!  I’ve been working here nearly two years and never had my bag fly off the seat before.”

Daniel, “I am being careful.  Everything needs to be strapped in.  Strap in your bag.”

He pulled over so she could do this.  As she strapped in her knapsack to the seat opposite hers she said, “All I want is a little peace and quiet.”  She noticed that her bag looked funny sitting there with a strap over it.

They proceeded along their way listening to the radio and calmed down.  Iris then started a conversation and learned that a lot had happened to Daniel since she last saw him yesterday, never mind this morning’s aggravation.  He had driven to London to see about a new Royal.  On the way over he had gotten caught on a major road for over an hour because a man had jumped from an overhead bridge and been hit by a big truck (lorry).  Daniel was about the tenth car from the scene of the accident and saw the body covered in a white sheet on the road.  Then as if that wasn’t enough, on the way back, he was stuck in traffic again, this time because of a car that had caught fire.  These two holdups were in addition to the usual delays and annoying traffic restrictions due to road works on an already long journey.


Daniel also told her about another incident that had happened a few days earlier when he had gone to the park with some Royals.  On the way back, they had stopped at a street light when a man had tried to get in.  Daniel had flipped on the lock.  The man walked away and proceeded to try to throw himself off the bridge they were on that went over busy roads a long distance below.  Daniel was quick to the rescue though as well as another man who was passing by on foot.  The police had then arrived.

When Daniel and Iris arrived at Lady Louise’s residence, Daniel repeated these stories to her father.  Iris joined in with a mention about her research concerning depression in the UK and how lots of people are on anti-depressants which may actually cause suicidal thoughts and suicide.  The knot in Iris’ stomach was almost gone by the time they got back to the Castle, but the stress was set to continue.  No break in this six hour shift.

Iris served Lord Harold his lunch and then made a card with him to give to his parents.  She was informed by Maude that the new Royal was to be collected after Lord Harold was brought home, so she would not be the escort.  Instead, she had to make a welcome banner with the Royals in less than an hour when it normally took over two.  This included a visit from Professor Wiseman’s dad with a new Labrador puppy which all the Royals had to hold and pet.  Luckily, she had some help from an agency carer.  Cutting, pasting, stapling and tying ribbons, the banner was done and pinned up to hang off the ceiling in the reception area.  She and Lord Felix stood for a moment and admired their handiwork.

While in the reception, Iris checked the diary at Amanda’s station and noticed a handwritten note pinned to the day from Petunia advising her to make a welcome banner.  Iris said to Amanda, “I wonder when Petunia put this in here, after I left yesterday?”  Amanda sheepishly shrugged her shoulders.

Later, Iris remembered that she had looked at the diary about two hours previously and the note wasn’t there.  It was obviously Amanda who had put the note there.  This is the sort of button pressing she tried all the time (or was it stupidity?).  Iris wondered how she got away with it.  Maybe her sense of humour was to blame.  Iris had met her later in King Sugar’s room bringing in a fan.  Amanda plugged it in and it worked for about ten seconds.  She then said to King Sugar, “that’s all you get”.  Janine was also there and said they’d have to get a man with big palm leaves to fan him.  They all had a laugh, even though Lord Sugar really needed a fan and there wasn’t a working one available.  Possibly Amanda was going to order one, this is, if she took a break from winding people up.

At the end of the day, Julia came over to Iris and asked if she would like to try her body cream that had been missing but was now found.  Iris started to take a look at the ingredients list on the bottom when Julia slapped some on her arm.  Iris quickly saw that there were lots of chemicals and other ingredients in the stuff that she went to great lengths to avoid.  Julia was aware of how Iris was on a special protocol that included avoiding products with lots of chemicals.  Iris said to Julia, “You ought to respect my choice not to use these products.”  Julia went into a tiff and was rude to her later when she asked her about the laundry, saying it wasn’t anything to do with her.  Iris guessed it wasn’t her day to do laundry, but couldn’t understand her behaviour.  Iris was aware that Julia didn’t respect her life-style even though she often acted as if she did, but Julia often seemed flippant as if she didn’t even respect her own life-style, so Iris decided to forget about it.  She washed her arm twice that evening but could still smell the perfume from the cream, a reminder of why she avoided it.

Iris thought, so much strife in this life.  We need a bridge over troubled waters, like a bridge over a motorway, not to jump from but to help each other across.  Some just don't seem to get the picture.

This article is in memory of the person who took their life by jumping off a bridge across a motorway on sunny Sunday afternoon (14/7/2013).

Photo credit:  bridge on a motorway, not the one in the suicide story, but just as an illustration of the circumstances.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

American Ideology


Lord Charles and King Sugar were excited about going to a vintage and classical vehicle show.  King Sugar especially enjoys motorcycles.

It was a sunny, hot day and they both put on hats.  King Sugar got a little hand massage with the application of sun cream, but Lord Charles insisted that he didn’t need any.  King Sugar also had his sunglasses.  With these preparations, they were ready for the morning's outing.

As they were driving over, Daniel commented when someone passed him, “The guy in the Ferrari passes everyone, except the petrol station.  It stops each and every time.”  He often gets annoyed by other drivers, especially those that pass him or wait too long to go at the roundabouts.  Iris enjoyed his jokes though.

When they got there, Iris said, “I’ve got the money, I’m in charge.”  Daniel commented, “No, you have to pay.”

Iris conceded to that one but then said she was in charge because she was the only female.  That didn’t work either.  Once they were inside the show, Daniel kept running off to look at exhibits and things to buy, made phone calls and texts, and got money out of the cash machine, leaving her to wait on the Royals most of the time.  At least he pushed King Sugar’s manual chair, while she steered Lord Charles’ electric one.

They all got very hot and after a couple of hours the Royals could barely keep their heads up.  In fact, King Sugar needed a head strap not long into the morning.  He got Iris to phone his Mum to let her know where he was, evidence that some men never grow up as he’s in his fifties.  When they got back to the Castle, both of the Royals went to bed.

After lunch, Iris got Lord William a cup of coffee while he watched a film.  She let it cool off a little before handing it to him because that was what she was told to do in her last supervision.  But after taking a sip, he told her he wanted it hotter!  She went back to the kitchen and added a little more boiling water and some more sugar for good measure.  That was a success.

The film Lord William and a few other Royals watched in the lounge was called Horton Hears a Who (2008), a cartoon based on a book by Dr Seuss about an elephant who struggles to protect a microscopic community (Iris was sure there was a hidden meaning to this bizarre theme).  She watched a bit while she did her notes, and sure enough, she noticed a lot of American ideology coming through.

The Royals watch a lot of American TV programmes and films, most of them with the same type of ideology.  Well, Iris thought, the world is succumbing to this ideology, and that’s why places such as this Castle are sprouting up like weeds.  She wondered if there was something better she should be doing for her employment, but couldn’t think of anything.  She felt that being a witness to how human beings were changing to being totally dependent for basic needs because of all the ideology stemming from the country of independence was worthwhile.  Americans celebrate Independence Day every 4th of July, but the caring industry is the fastest growing one in that country, caring as in Castle Health Care, which is the furthest one can get from being independent.

Iris took the photos at the show (which for those new to this blog, is in England) and these things were far from the only ones with an American theme, more American ideology.  The car above had Texas licence plates.  She didn't dislike her homeland, just some of what was growing there and spreading all over the world.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Under Attack at the Castle

The day started out cool with a grey sky and whether this was the cause for the attacks at the Castle today or not, Iris wasn’t sure.
 
Oprah was at the Castle for the Outreach programme and had discussed with Iris about going out because the weather was supposed to improve.  Iris got the feeling that she really wanted to go on an outing and so agreed to organise a trip to a local park for lunch.  She went to the chef's wing to discuss the lunch plans and as soon as she neared the building she could smell floor cleaner, it was that strong.  When she got inside, she mentioned to Mr Kleen that the floor cleaner seemed awfully strong and he said he knew, he had just cleaned up after Lord Charles who had peed on the floor.
 
Lord Andrew’s mother was at the computer and heard Iris and Oprah organising the outing.  She asked what Outreach was doing even though she had no intention of letting Lord Andrew join in the group.  She gave Iris one of her cold looks with her stiff upper lip while Iris explained what was going on in as pleasant a manner as she could muster.  Oprah then ushered Iris down the hall to whisper to her that she shouldn’t let her dictate the agenda.  Iris shrugged her shoulders and said that this mother had said worse things to her before, but she didn’t let it bother her.
 
Queen Nef got her new glasses fitted and then she was ready along with Princess Astrid and Lord William.  Iris remarked to Julia about how Princess Astrid’s arms were slightly sunburned, but Julia said this happened yesterday at a barbecue despite having on sunscreen.  This was the barbecue that had nearly smoked Iris out of her apartment because the grill was set up directly below one of her windows and the chef had used a ton of lighter fluid to get it started.
 
Duncan went to a farm to collect Lord Felix and Samantha who had spent the morning there cleaning out a cow barn while Iris and Oprah served the Royals macaroni and cheese for lunch.  Princess Astrid sneezed several times with food in her mouth, all over the table and Iris.  During the meal, Janine happened by with her husband and stopped for a chinwag.  Professor Wiseman's father also came by as he was the new owner of the park and worked there.  He seemed under a lot of pressure and was a bit annoyed that his son wasn't on the outing.
 
After the meal, Iris took photos of each Royal posing by some decorative wall hangings while Oprah did a little shopping in the boutique next door with one Royal at a time. 
She bought a set of plastic eyes that could clip on the nose (the photo is the closest image I could find online) and a pack of fudge.  She happily posed with Lord William with her eyeball gadget on her face.  A good time was had by all.
 
Upon arrival back at the Castle, Petunia came over to Iris and noticed her taking the Activity notebook from her bag.  She asked,
 
“Did you take the notebook with you on the outing?”
 
Iris replied, “Yes, otherwise I wouldn’t have had time to write the notes.”
 
Petunia retorted, “Don’t you ever take the notebook out of the Castle again!”
 
Iris did not find this pleasant but smiled because Duncan , who had overheard this, gave Petunia a hand gesture when she walked away.  Iris wondered about Petunia’s reaction because it seemed unreasonable, especially since she’d never taken the notebook out of the Castle before.
 
Later that evening, Rebecca was talking to Julia and then called to Iris as she passed by on her way home. 
 
“Did you put sunscreen on Princess Astrid?”
 
Iris, “No, we went directly into the mini-bus for a ten minute ride and then straight indoors.  So I didn't see the need.”
 
Rebecca, “But look at her arms, they are sunburned.”
 
Iris, “Not guilty.”
 
Iris wondered why Julia hadn’t told Rebecca that Princess Astrid’s arms were pink before she went out for lunch.  She also wished she’d asked what Princess Astrid had done all afternoon, because that’s when the sun came out and quite possibly when her pink arms got pinker.  Sometimes, work required being quick to draw and being defensive without seeming to be so.
 
She got home and thought that some days are like this, one attack after another. There was nothing more to it. Iris was glad she would have the next day off though and planned to relax.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

We Learn Something New Every Day

Eeeck!!  Iris screeched and jumped back in fright.
 
Prince Alfred got Janine’s attention while Iris had moved to safety behind the nurses’ station and coyly said,
 
“Give me your hand.”
 
Looking at the Prince’s closed hand, Janine said with a pleasant smile of anticipation, “Oh, what could it be?” and put her hand underneath his hand.
 
Prince Alfred uncurled his fingers and out dropped a very black plastic spider into Jeanne’s hand.  He got the same reaction from her as he had for Iris and Julia before her.  They had all screeched, dropped the spider and jumped back.  Janine said, I’m never going to get you off the toilet again! They later agreed that it wasn’t that they didn’t like spiders; it was just that this one was sooo black.  It was good fun, especially because Prince Albert tended to suffer from depression.
 
Iris then got called to drop everything (besides the black plastic spider) and drive Queen Nef and two physiotherapists to an NHS hospital to have her wheelchair adjusted.  Queen Nef’s father was supposed to have done this but he had gotten stuck in traffic on the M25.  She got to a parking space nearby their destination and everyone was worried about parking correctly because Iris recently had to pay a parking ticket.  She was new and hadn’t known the rules for parking a Royal vehicle.  They even asked the receptionist in the building about what her opinion was about how Iris had parked.  She suggested that Iris straighten out the car which went over the painted lines a bit because although she didn’t mind the Council might.  Iris did this and then noticed that she had driven over her mechanical pencil and smashed it.  It had fallen out of her bag when she got out to get the parking receipt.  She thought, “you couldn’t make this up!”
 
Iris was impressed with this place, with all the wheelchairs in the hallway and room leading out to the back garden where she had waited happily in the sunshine.  The chairs were all covered in plastic with names written by hand on strips of masking tape or A-4 sheets of paper, waiting for their owners to collect them.
 
On the way back, Iris had to drive through road works.  She was stopped and asked to put on the hazard lights while driving through.  One physiotherapist remarked:  “They probably saw you coming and noticed your hazardous driving.”  They are got a laugh out of that.  Iris had never had to drive with hazard lights on before.  She learned where the button was for them and said, “We learn something new every day.”
 
Back at the Castle, Iris took a phone call for Judith, but had to put the call on hold and go get her.  When Judith arrived she said,
 
“You hung up.”
Iris said, “no, I put the call on hold.”
Judith, “but you hung up.”
Iris, “the call should still be on hold.”
 
Judith picked up the receiver, and sure enough, the call was on hold.  She said,
“I’ve been working here for four years and didn’t know that could be done.  We learn something new every day!”
 
Iris and Lord Felix then decorated for Lord William’s birthday party in the dining room.  Iris had to close the doors because Mr Kleen had the bucket with floor cleaner in it right outside.  Iris asked the two physiotherapists if they could smell the chemicals, but they couldn’t.  Iris wondered if she was sensitive to these chemicals or they were just insensitive to them.  She also wondered why more people didn’t join her in questioning why these toxic substances were used so liberally, especially in a Castle with so many Royals about everywhere (see photo and 10 Golden Rules below).
 
Meanwhile, the entertainer had gotten lost because of the road works diversions (several in the same area), but she finally showed up over an hour late.  This suited Lord William because he had gone out to lunch with his sister and wife and needed a nap.
 
The party finally got started and Iris was called to wear some bangly scarf thingy around her hips along with the nurses and carers on duty (male and female) and Lord Felix, and shake, shake, shake it while the entertainer and everyone sang to her recorded music.  All the Royals gathered together, except for King Tut and Lord Henry who couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed. Even Petunia was there, shaking it, even though it was her day off.  She'd been called in by Maude to be a carer for Viscount Frederic who needed a personal nurse and carer, 24/7.  Party food, specially prepared from scratch, was served buffet style by the chef.  Lord William opened his presents and card and was pleased.
 
“To spill can kill”
C.O.S.H.H.
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1994.
10 Golden Rules
1.      Be sure you can read the labels and follow the instructions before use.
2.     Use protective clothing provided.
3.     Don’t mix chemicals.  Mixing chemicals can KILL.
4.     Never put chemicals into unmarked containers.
5.     Never put chemicals into bottles or containers that have other uses, for example, eating or drinking.
6.     Be sure you know what First-Aid treatment is required if you accidentally spill chemicals on yourself or others.
7.     Store all chemicals safely.
8.     Report any damaged containers, spills or faulty containers to a supervisor.
9.     Always follow the safety rules and develop safe working practices in the workplace.
10. Report anything wrong to your supervisor.
 
 
The COSHH chemicals that are clearly labelled as hazardous to health were in the air and on all the surfaces in Castle Health Care.  A conundrum, Iris had thought.  But, the Royals didn't give a hoot, except for Viscount Frederic who wouldn't allow them in his room.  If only he could extend his influence to the whole Castle on this issue, Iris would be happy.  The chemicals were a lot scarier than the plastic spider but hardly got noticed.  Maybe it’s because they were invisible. Still, Iris had hope that people would change their view on these chemicals because "we learn something new every day!"