Team Underwood Lockdown. Part 8.
Saturday 25th April
We have internet, finally. After a full 7 days of Greg trying to work, me trying to keep up with blogs and Alices care team and George trying to study and game with his mates, all fighting over data from two mobile phones, it was a very much needed. I've had many discussions with George over the last week about "Life Before Internet", all of which he had absolutely no interest in hearing and all were met with the same "are you serious"? facial expression. I guess this is my generations version of "In The War....."
Anyway the nice man from Telstra turned up at the front door and promptly announced he can only come in if no one is sick and if we maintain a 2 metre distance from him and both kids keep a 4 metre distance. Firstly our house isn't even that big, so short of sticking the kids in the garden and nailing them to the fence, that's just not physically possible and secondly, we have what we like to call The Alice Factor. This is a phenomenon where no rules apply. Its like a Black Hole for rules. No rules can exist there. You can ask all you want and even quote the law or threaten with loss of liberty or life, but its futile. The Alice Factor means all bets are off.
So the next hour consisted of Alice locked in the kitchen either shouting "Hello...Hello Man.....I cant see you..." or reverting to our usual protest cry of "Fuck You". A bit like some people have to lock dogs that bite or jump up in the kitchen when trades people visit, we have to do the same with our blonde haired blue eyed 8 year old. But we now have internet and thats a good thing.
In the most amazing turn of events that afternoon, Alice appeared to start coming back to us. Properly coming back to us, not just behaving better but looking better too. Her dark circles under her eyes faded, her stoned look slowly morphed back into bright and sparkly, the swearing tics and dire mood improved and she began playing more rather than just looking for trouble to cause and people to abuse. Its really hard to explain to people that dont know Alice well but when her condition hits her hard we barely recognise her. Its like a light goes out and she doesn't even look the same. As at Saturday evening I think we have her back.
Sunday 26th April
Today all four of us spent the day clearing the back garden so the kids will have somewhere to play for the next year. The Shit Shack sits on the rear half of the property, and the new build will take up about one third of the land at the front. Meaning that once work begins, the only outside space the kids will have will be the garden behind The Shack. Thankfully Alice woke up bright and cheery and apart from her wobbles still being pretty extreme, it was apparent it was a good day to get shit done. Several trees were cut down and then cut up, a fence was demolished, the outside dunny (Australian for "toilet") and shower were cleaned and de-spidered and a number of minor injuries were sustained by all involved
But it was a good day and one of those very very few times, that all four of us do something together. NKH life is a constant strategy of Divide and Conquer. One takes Alice and manages her as best we can and the other takes George and tries to make sure his life involves some normality. Today we really were Team Underwood.
Monday 27th April
Ive named the new house. If The Shit Shack has a name then the new build probably should too. Initially we thought we'd go with DownUnderwood which is a name we throw around a lot when referring to ourselves, but its so bloody long and I wanted something that was more 'beachy' and seaside appropriate. So I've gone with Beachworth. Not that interesting or witty you might say, but here's the cheeky nipple tweek. Beechworth Hospital for The Insane or Beechworth Asylum as some preferred to call it, was a well known mental facility in Australia founded in 1867. Its still open but has gone through significant change and now deals mainly with elderly psychiatric patients. In fact they even run ghost tours of the now deserted old wings of the hospital. As such, I thought it seemed a very fitting name for our new abode. We too run a house of chaos, distress and mental lunacy. Life inside the walls of our house is much like a parallel universe to The Normals that we move amongst, so why not name our beautiful new home after a mental institution and tweek the name from Beech to Beach to fit our location?
Tuesday 28th April
Its apparent that some good things are coming out of Lockdown and Shit Shack life so I thought I'd list them to remind myself when I'm ready to knock this place down with my bear hands in a few months. Or as my son would chime in at this point "Why cant you just use your human hands Mum"?
1/ We are all eating dinner together in the evenings. Now that Greg is always home and finished work by 5pm its suddenly possible to get us all sat down eating at the same time.
2/ Because we are all sat at a table together, Alice is self feeding much more. Taking the easy option of spoon feeding her is something I've been guilty off these last few months and it doesn't help Alice in the long run, so this has been a good break of bad habits. Alice feeding herself is a very messy affair (think of the Swedish Chef from The Muppet Show if you need a visual) but we also have the advantage of cheap carpet tiles on the floor of The Shit Shack and walls that we dont care about. So a bit of food redecoration from Alice isn't the big deal it once was.
3/ We no longer have a dishwasher so my painfully idle son now has to wash up! Even after 40 years, I am still acutely aware of my dreadful memories of washing up against my will and hating the job of drying even more. But much in the same way it taught me to pull my weight, its helping George get off his arse and chip in with the household chores.
4/ George has always woken at sunrise and now his Dad is home each morning, they are both getting up and going for a beach walk, before me and Alice get up. Once a week they get coffee and a sausage roll as a treat. George thinks this is the best thing ever and of course that makes me very happy.
5/ The Shit Shack doesn't have any of the special adaptations our old house did. We don't have support bars next to the toilets and all the external doors don't have ramps. As such Alice now has no option but to use things like the sink and walls to get herself safely on and off the loo and she's having to get over her fear of (ie my fear of her) attempting steps. In the last year Alice has learnt to go up and down a single step pretty well but add a second and you may as well just shove her off a cliff. She can kind of safely fall forwards off one step and then catch herself as she hits the ground. But leaning forwards and using gravity to help you fall off more than one step doesn't work so well. Its a work in progress but we might just be able to tackle steps in a few months thanks to The Shit Shack.
Those are the top 5 that spring to mind and Ill try to keep focusing on those because whilst things are so much better with Alice, something is still off. She seems to of come out of whatever crazed brain state the UTI caused but she is in tears most evenings with stomach ache now. Not sure if its the after effects of the antibiotics or if its something to do with her G Tube. We all want the damn tube out but to remove it before we have seen her cope with at least one big illness would just be stupid. If we take it out and she gets flu or god forbid COVID and looses her ability to eat, drink or take her meds, then its a case of being rushed to hospital for surgery to refit it. The option of fitting her with a nasal tube would be about as easy as getting a cat to willingly take a worming tablet. Only people who have ever wormed their cats will understand this.
Wednesday 29th April
Simply because anything that can go wrong in this household invariably does, it seems we now have the rotting bodies of the Mutant Rat family slowly marinating right below our bedroom. The boastful claims on the packet of rat poison assured us that after being consumed the rodents would get really thirsty and head to out to get water and as such their stinky rotting corpses would be someone else problem. Its a lie. I'm guessing it works much like peanuts at a bar that are loaded with salt to make us want more beer. Except in this case the Mutant Rats couldn't be arsed to seek out water (or beer) and as a last act of defiance, have curled up and died in the crawl space under the house, right below our bed. So now my bedroom smells like death to add to the already ever present whiff of despair. Initially Alice was the prime suspect as she has been known to drop the odd "nugget" here and there without telling me but thats not been her style for a while now. Even so I still had to do the "Nugget Sweep" that was a common practice not so long ago and make sure no poo raisins were slowly dehydrating in a corner of the room. As the days have worn on though, the sickly reek of musty poo has changed to what is, without doubt, the stench of a dead animal (or 10). Alice is off the hook for this crime at least but later today Greg gets the unenviable task of crawling on his hands and knees under The Shit Shack to retrieve the semi rotted and no doubt maggot infected bodies of freakishly large rodents.
Well played Mutant Rats, well played.
Oh and we've established the house creaks like a Pirate Ship in a storm, if there is so much as a tiny breeze. So thats fun at night.
Thursday 30th April
Yesterday evening my poor husband donned full coveralls and face mask to drag himself through years of god knows what in the crawl space under the house, in search a dead and bloated rat. However the recovery mission was unsuccessful and no bodies were retrieved. In fact it didn't even smell bad under the house and considering our bedroom reeks of decomposition, we had to conclude that maybe the problem was above us after all and not below. So next he squeezed his 6'3" frame through a tiny hatch in the ceiling to check out an equally disgusting and neglected roof space. There was an awful lot of spider activity but still the elusive corpse was nowhere to be found. In the end a wall cavity proved to be our most likely culprit and we are having to assume the bugger has gone down there to die (obviously its done this deliberately to piss me off) and is now slowly decomposing in our bedroom wall. Of course, if this is the case then there is eff all we can do about it other than to left it slowly fester itself away to nothing and we just have to get used to gagging every time we enter our bedroom.
In other news I got hypnotized again today to get me back on track with not drinking. I did this back in October and it certainly really helped me stay off the sauce for just shy of six months, so it seemed a good plan to give it another shot. Bad choice of word there, maybe "give it another go" is more appropriate. I wont bore you with all the details of what, how, when and why I'm doing this, because I doubt anyone cares, but I might do it in a separate post one day. One thing I have learnt about not drinking is that it makes everyone around you very uncomfortable so I'll save it for a post that only those who are in the same boat can read if they choose.
Friday 1st May
First words out of Alices mouth today were "Good Morning Butt Head. Where is Dad-gina"? Because everyone is a Gina now, as in Va-gina. George is Georgina, I am Mumgina and of course Greg is Dadgina. Yes I know. I give up. And to think I thought we'd hit rock bottom when everyone was a Penis.
Alice was with her carer today so I decided Id have a fun day with George and he could skip school. Well skip Home School that is, because I have declined to send the kids back to real school this week. Despite the government assuring us its fine and they are once again open, I'm still not comfortable with it. Of course each parents decision is there own and I accept that with COVID being pretty much irradiated here and a total death toll still being the right side of 100, that I might be being a wee bit overcautious, but I feel that whilst they government are saying "Its safe to send the kids back to school" what they are actually selling is "Its safe for kids to get infected" and that is of course something very very different when you have a child who is highly unlikely to survive it.
The rotting stench in the bedroom has gone through multiple variations of what death apparently smells like and after a brief period today where we thought it had gone, its mutated to yet another style of stink. I drenched our bedroom carpet in Shake N Vac in another desperate attempt to mask it and now the bedroom smells of vanilla and late stage decomposition. Tonight I'm sleeping with George in his room.
COVID 19 in Australia today is at 6,793 cases. 93 deaths. Cases in Western Australia are 551 with several days this week with no new cases at all.