My father is in hospital again. Both his legs are swollen, which is fairly common with heart failure, which we’ve known about for a few years, but one of his arms has also swelled up, and he’s out of breath doing the slightest things. The practice GPs thought it was better to treat him at home, but the lymphoedema nurse was adamant it was something else. My moderately stressful trip shoehorning Dad into a VW Polo for an assessment in an inaccessible part of one hospital became an eight-hour wait with the triage team in a bigger hospital. As part of his admission he did a Covid test… which came back positive. The only people he sees are the district nurses who dress his legs, so it was probably them. He’s asymptomatic—I took him for his last vaccination in November—but after a whole day face-to-face lifting him in an out of chairs, I feel like I’m playing Covid roulette with a full chamber.

I’m letting off steam. He’s in good hands. I hope he’ll be home in a couple of days. Meanwhile, I’m working from (childhood) home, I miss my family, I’m tired, and I feel vulnerable. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a full-time carer. At the same time, it’s a privilege to be able to look after him like this.

Hospitals are emotional places. There’s nothing like an admission ward to make you feel grateful for your health. Dad might be old and ill, but I’m still young and well. I have to remind myself because my boundaries in this are both hard-won and ever-fragile.