As some may know, Frances has a neurological condition, one consequence of which is that she is not able to swallow, and this in turn means that the normal secretions in the mouth cannot be swallowed, but have to be suctioned out through a small tube, known as a Yankauer tube, connected to a vacuum pump. There’s another tube, known as a PEG, which is the feeding tube, and yet another, which forms the respiratory circuit.
When Alex first saw Frances in the Intensive Care ward, all the tubes and support systems frightened him, and it took a while for him to get used to them. He’s still a little hesitant, but he understands that they’re what his mum calls “the good tubes, because they feed Mum-mum, and help Mum-mum to breathe”. ‘Mum-mum’ is what Alex calls Frances, and it’s stuck.
Recently, at the hospice nearby where Frances had spent some time in respite care, we had a visit from Lindsay and our grandchildren, Alex and Hermione.
Shortly after arriving, Lindsay had to go on an errand, taking Hermione with her, and Alex, our four-year-old grandson, as usual, wanted to stay with us instead. So he did, getting some stones from the garden to play with, as Frances watched England tear France to pieces at Twickenham.
As the second half of the game started, Alex decided he was now Dr Who, and would rid the world of daleks. He went to the french window leading to the hospice garden, put his hand out, clutching his invisible ray-gun, and shot half a dozen of the pesky varmints before coming inside to declare all enemy daleks now dead.
Just then, I noticed that Frances needed another ‘mouth suction’ with the Yankauer.
Before I could rise from my chair, Alex leapt forward and, his arm firmly outstretched, put me back in my seat, saying “I’ll do it”.
He walked over to the vacuum pump, lifted the Yankauer, switched on the pump, turned to Frances, and put the Yankauer into her mouth. He waited patiently until all the secretions were gone, then picked up the wash cup, sucked up water to clean the Yankauer, put it back into its bag, leaned over to the pump and switched it off. He stepped back, turned to Frances, and said “Call me when you need another one.”
Then he picked up the invisible key to the invisible Tardis, climbed inside, shut the invisible door, and announced “I’m going to another planet now.”
Some things are beyond words.