What it's really like to have a new PA/carer
It's a lot like a break up, except not really
Hello, happy Tuesday.
I’m almost certainly not the only one, but I have been feeling a little unsettled recently. Obviously, the world is a mess. But even on a personal scale, I’m all over the place. Work has dried up, and I’m still in some sort of seemingly never-ending book limbo, leaving me not entirely sure whether I’m coming or going, celebrating or back at square one. I find uncertainty even more stressful than actual problems, because at least with actual problems there are things to be done. It’s the pointless fretting - and the interminable passage of time - that really gets me.
The sense of uncertainty is heightened at the moment because, once again, I need a new PA. On the positive side, this is the first time in my adult life that this situation has not created a sense of near-permanent panic, a fact I must attribute to two years of therapy and some very effective anti-anxiety tablets. So, I am mostly fine, but still, it’s an unpleasant situation to be in. Most obviously, it’s quite hard to plan anything for the early summer; we may or may not find someone in time, and while I’m lucky that some friends will fill in as much as possible, I can’t really hope to leave London until someone is in place. And even when someone has started, there’s a long adjustment period in which I need my parents (or good mates) around to take some of the mental load, so being at home then is important too. So, no big plans until… July?
But it’s more than just the practicalities. Sure, I have the new-PA training day down to a fine art, including stock explanations I have seemingly memorised by heart without even trying. But there’s still the mental work of doing all this teaching. And new PAs have to be told everything; there’s no routine to fall back on. This means I have to ask specifically for each morning coffee, or tell them to leave the conditioner in my hair until the end of the shower. There are no shortcuts, no assumed knowledge. They don’t yet know that the easiest thing is to pass me everything I could possibly need in the next few hours before they leave the room (if you’re a friend of mine, this is why you often find me on the sofa with a book, my iPad and the TV remote in a pile beside me). When you’ve had a PA for a while, you an unspoken language - sometimes if I’m tired, I simply glare at something rather than ask for it - and suddenly all of it is simply wiped away, leaving you searching for words for something you’ve not ever verbalised before.