Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Life returning to normal

It has been a difficult summer.  Mum was in hospital for four months in all – it felt as though it was never going to end.  She was not too bad at first and we both wondered what the fuss was about.  Yes she had blanked out a couple of times, but was otherwise quite well.  These ‘funny turns’ had been happening more frequently.  It took about a month for the hospital to sort out that it was a problem with her heart.  They tried to regulate the problem using medication but this was not successful, so Mum had a pacemaker fitted – at 96!

Mum came through the operation surprisingly well, and apart from a few poorly days straight afterwards, made a quick recovery.  Unfortunately being in hospital represented a total lack of stimulation for Mum and she has lost a lot of ground because of this.  Whereas in her residential care home she had walked to and from the dining room and the bathroom a number of times a day, in hospital she would have a short walking session with a physio once a day – but not even every day.  Also her appetite—which has never been particularly good-—disappeared, so she lost weight and strength.

As a consequence, Mum is sadly a lot frailer than she was before going into hospital and it was eventually decided that she no longer had sufficient independence to return to residential care and would need nursing care.  After nagging the hospital for weeks to make a decision, they finally made the need for nursing care official – and then gave me two weeks to find a new home for her!  The bureaucracy around this was appalling and distressingly cold-hearted at times.

I did succeed in finding a nice place for Mum however, and she moved in a couple of weeks ago.  She is settling well and likes the place.  Her room overlooks the entrance, car park and garden and she enjoys watching the comings and goings. They have her walking a little more again and she is eating better, so she is a little stronger, but still very frail.

My feelings about the care she received at Llandough Hospital is rather mixed.  I think it is a case of their doing the best they can in difficult circumstances.  I could not believe how much washing the hospital generated from one old lady and found it stressful and upsetting that this became a major focus of my life for four months – what unpleasantness will I find in the bag today and will I be able to get it dry before she runs out of clothes again?  I feel surprised that relatives are expected to deal with some of the unpleasantness I found in those laundry bags, and some of it I put straight in the bin.

Thank heavens those days are behind us and we can have happier times again for now.

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