It’s 6.30am, late January and deep dark winter and I am in bed awake, staying at Mum’s, thinking about how much longer I can put off filing my tax return on the dregs of an income which has been sacrificed to my mother and father’s care.
I run downstairs. Mum’s room is dark and she is playing a torch around the room.
“What’s the matter?”
“There’s someone shining a torch around the room.”
I don’t say anything for a moment.
“There’s someone shining a torch around the room.” I repeat her sentence.
“Yes, can you see it?.”
“Only you Mum. Only you are shining a torch around the room. Why have you called me downstairs to tell me that?”
“No, I’ll turn it off, now look. Oh, it’s not happening now.”
“Someone was shining a torch around the room. They are in here. I’m telling you.”
“But no-ones in here Mum. There’s only you and me.”
“There was. Every now and then someone was shining a light in the shower.”
“That would be car headlights going by shining through the window in the shower. Probably.”
“No. It was someone with a torch.”
“Can I go back to bed?
He is still with us. He has been away for a month and come back, with manners.
Mum looked set for a lengthy stay in hospital at the beginning of December, and we could not have Kerry at home, because of my husband. And the cat. They both objected.
Kennels were the obvious answer to the problem.
“We’ve got to do it Mum.”
“It’s going to be so stressful for him though!”
“Yes, he’s going to be surrounded twenty-four hours a day by other dogs who he can’t kill.”
“Phone up a few kennels for me and see if any of them have isolation cages. There’s nothing else for it.”
Billy did find a local kennel for him, but in the meantime I had put a post up on Facebook with an attractive picture of him, asking if anyone would take him in for a while. A very kind man, Dave, who had been in the same drama group as me in the 1970’s, since when we had not met, and his very kind wife Debbie, said they had lost their own terrier earlier in the year and would take him. I explained Kerry’s skin condition and his behavioural problems and they said no problem, as their dog used to bite them.
Kerry spent one night in the kennels before I took him over to their house. The kennels had good reviews, and the lady who took our call and took him in was pleasant, but its office was manned by a couple of tattooed human flesh pyramids, oozed over their office chairs like molten magma, lava lumps with flickering eyes and obsidian nails,
fuelled by tins of Celebrations, of which there were three open, along wth their Facebook pages on their computer screens, perhaps because it was December and Xmas was on its way 23 days later. They were selective in their eating and left the Bounty Bars. It was disheartening; I don’t like Bounty Bars either, and I was glad to pick Kerry up the next day. He was subdued but ok, and I was glad to take him away and over to his next home.
Dave and Debbie have a lovely rambling house and garden, with plenty to interest Kerry. They have lodgers and so there were lots of people coming and going to keep him entertained. Dave works from home so Kerry soon grew attached to him and lay at his feet while he worked. He was happy there and by all accounts not too badly behaved except at mealtimes when he demanded his share of their meals, so they put him in the garden.
It was ideal for Kerry, but all ideal things come to and end and Christmas was coming up, Mum was still in hospital, and Dave and Debbie were going to be doing a lot of visiting. Kerry needed another temporary home.
Billy did another internet search for kennels, but not that one. He found that several were full, with the holiday period right on us, others required a kennel cough vaccination, which Kerry hasn’t got, and the only option was the most expensive, at £23 a day and £80 for the Bank Holidays of which there were three. The place had marvellous reviews. And it was our only option.
I took him to Silverdale Kennels in Fetcham. The office was staffed by a normal person, business-like, but kind and interested in Kerry and his skin condition and potions, his hostility to other dogs, and his dietary requirements. I said goodbye, and left him. When I picked him up a couple of weeks plus later, he was pleased to see me, happy, and had improved manners. Well worth all that money. £447.00.
Kerry doesn’t think it was worth the money.
I will preface this by saying that this is our experience of the bay that my mother was in between the 16th December to the 5th January 2016. I have fished on Facebook for other peoples’ experiences and so far no-one has a bad word to say about the place. It seems to me that people who had specific problems like knee injuries are treated. Mum’s problems are global and they do not have the right approach to help people like her. She would have deteriorated and ended up in a nursing home, rather than back in her own home if it hadn’t been for my intervention and her own determination.
“Well, welcome to our ward! We were expecting you yesterday, but you didn’t arrive! Did you get lost?”
Patient transport just hadn’t turned up at Kingston Hospital yesterday to transfer Mum to Tolworth rehabilitation unit, and so altogether Mum had spent 13 days in a hospital bed, and the chair next to it, with no diagnosis apart from that she needed rehabilitation. A previous X-ray some months ago had revealed a ‘probable’ crush fracture in the pelvis, but this time her X-rays were clear. No fracture.
There did not seem to be any reason to me why Mum should not be rehabilitated back to the state that she was in before her admittance, that is, able to live on her own, with her dog, with a lot of support from me and from a carer for a few hours a week. Mum could shower herself, dress herself, got to the loo, make a cup of tea, warm up a microwave meal, and let the dog in and out several times a day. She had an Age UK alarm which she could press if she fell, which sometimes happened. She is not depressed, has a nice home, a loving family and plenty of visitors, grandchildren and great children. She does quite a bit of exercise at home: she has hand weights, leg weights, a Pilates ring, stretch bands and pedals. She has a life very worth living.
I had heard good things about Tolworth Hospital, and had great expectations that she would get a thorough assessment, and a programme of physiotherapy which would help her get back home, maybe better than before. Mum has plans to get off the zimmer.
This is Tolworth Hospital’s entry in the NHS yourhealthcare.org
The Cedars Unit at Tolworth Hospital has 35 beds, providing nurse/therapy-led rehabilitation for adult patients in Kingston.
Patients are either admitted from home or from a local acute hospital, (such as Kingston Hospital) and include patients requiring stroke rehabilitation and those who require short term care such as intravenous fluids or medication, blood transfusion.
Patients are admitted who require rehabilitation, with an individual programme of care to enable them to fulfil their rehabilitation potential and independence. This includes the physical, psychological and social aspects of rehabilitation with the ultimate aim of each patient returning to their own home.
Sounds good. At a council meeting a few months earlier I had heard a local doctor speak about the council’s plans to rehabilitate people like my mum. He made physiotherapy and rehabilitation for the elderly sound like a priority. At the time this was part of the alternative plan to the accommodation provided by Hobkirk House, a rehabilitation home which the council were closing because at 40, it was deemed too old.
The ward sister who took Mum’s history from me told me she was not normally on the ward, and gave me some advice. “You must make sure you speak up for your Mum.”.
My heart had already sunk a little as I recognised one of the physiotherapists as being the community physio who visited mum at home at my request three times back in the summer. I thought a physiotherapist could help with mum’s back-ache, give her advice on exercises, and maybe work out what was going on with Mum’s gait, which was awkward and twisted. Her balance was poor.
I thought I knew what physiotherapists were. I thought they gave exercises, manual therapy, ultrasound treatment, massage. Here’s what it says in the Chartered Physiotherapists web-site.
Physiotherapy helps restore movement and function when someone is affected by injury, illness or disability.
Physiotherapists help people affected by injury, illness or disability through movement and exercise, manual therapy, education and advice.
They maintain health for people of all ages, helping patients to manage pain and prevent disease.
The profession helps to encourage development and facilitate recovery, enabling people to stay in work while helping them to remain independent for as long as possible.
This physio had been very lacking in understanding when I phoned to postpone a visit, once because Mum wasn’t well, and the other time because she had had a recent fall and was shaken up. “Well you are being very unreliable. You’ve got one last chance. You are stopping me from seeing other elderly people who need my help.”. She came again, said she could do no more for Mum, and if I needed her again, to call…….She did give mum some exercises to do, and refused to change Mum’s zimmer frame. I had been convinced that the frame she had was too low and was giving her back ache. It was only when I phoned up some months later to say that mum’s osteopath said the frame was too low, that I was allowed to drive in to Tolworth hospital and choose a taller one from their racks of hundreds of zimmer frames. Mum’s back ache diminished as a result, in spite of, not because of, this particular physiotherapist.
But while the ward sister was taking Mum’s history from me, Mum was already involved in a chair based physio game where the patients were saying their name and doing some exercise. Wonderful, I thought. Some social and physical activity, just what mum needs.
That was the only time in nearly three weeks that she was there that this took place.
I thought it would be a couple of days before a proper assessment was made and a programme of exercise tailored for Mum was put into practice, so I was not surprised when not a lot happened for a few days. I was worried and had slightly lower expectations as it was coming up to Xmas. I had little hope of her getting out in time for Xmas.
At this stage Mum had gained weight in Kingston hospital, and could not stand up without considerable pain. She had had a catheter since the second day in Kingston Hospital, and consequently had little need to move. So she didn’t.
The wards are long, three bays being about 8 to 10 feet wide each. There is a tv at the end by the window. Mum was at the end by the nurses desk, and she couldn’t see the telly at all.
There was often a wait for the loo as there didn’t seem to be enough toilets, or showers for that matter. In those circumstances a urine catheter is a good idea.
But the wards are clean, and the food is very good. The nurses are nice.
Mum complained of not being able to sleep.
“It’s not noisy here Mum is it?”
it all seemed pretty quiet to me.
One evening I came in at about 7pm. A very nice young woman was dispensing hot drinks. She smiled at Mum. “Coffee, white, no sugar!”
“Yes.”, said Mum. “You know me now!”
“Mum, what are you doing drinking coffee at this time of night? No wonder you can’t sleep!”
“Well, they come round and give it to me!”
“Why are you giving people coffee in the evening? Do you drink coffee in the evening?”, I ask the pleasant young woman, who has stopped smiling and whose eyebrows are now knitting a bemused pattern across her forehead.
“No, I never drink coffee in the evening. I wouldn’t sleep…”
“Because this is my job.”.
“Well please don’t give this lady coffee at this time any more. I am sorry, but I do think it’s a silly thing to do.”
She went to give coffee to other people’s mums.
“What did you say that to her for. She was nice!”, said Mum.
“Well she is stopping you from sleeping.”
She was waited on hand and foot of course: the staff were lovely and very solicitous that she should not fall. The hospital was like a little safe cocoon.
They have a wonderful contraption on the ward in Tolworth which helps the nurses push the patients from their beds to the toilet and back in great style. She found this quite amusing.
They have a little gym in the unit. Mum was taken there once during her stay.
I visited every day. There was no physiotherapist around at the weekend, which was what I expected, but in the week, there were one or two on the ward, watching people walk along using their zimmer frames. Mum was still not up on her feet by her second week.
Every weekday I had asked the same question. “What physio did you get today Mum?”
And I got the same answer, from her, “Nothing. The physio came and tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to stand up, and when I stood up I was in pain, and he told me to sit down, and then he left me. That was it.”
I encouraged mum to stand up and sit down as much whenever she could, holding on to the hospital trolley for balance. Sometimes she was in more pain than at other times and could not do it.
By that second week I could see what was going on, which was nothing. Nothing like what the Chartered Physiotherapist website led me to expect. I was getting quite upset, and very worried for Mum’s future.
Muscles atrophy with rest. Circulation deteriorates. Mum’s ankles were puffing up, so they gave her more bed rest so that she could keep her feet up more, so that fluid would stop pooling in her ankles. She still had the catheter, even though I had asked at arrival whether this could be removed. I was told that Mum’s problems were far too serious to warrant the removal of the catheter. I insisted that they try, as Mum’s bladder although a bit unreliable, generally works ok. She is prone to retention at times, but after a while she can piss like a horse.
The lady in the middle bay opposite beckoned me over.
“What sort of a place is this?”she asked. “Do you know?”. At first I thought she was suffering from dementia, and didn’t know where she was, but this proved far from the case. She was very dissatisfied with her treatment, and she was arranging for her family to take her home and get her a private physiotherapist.
“You know dear, without help at our age, our bodies will just decline! I can’t just sit here and hope to get better! I have to get out of here. Or slowly but surely, I will die. I have been here for three weeks. Fortunately I have the money to pay for private care. Thank God.”
I was then summoned by the gentleman visitor to the bed opposite Mum’s.
“Do you know what’s going on here?”, he asked. A sadder story emerged. His partner had already been in Hospital for five weeks, having been taken into casualty after collapsing suddenly. There now seemed to be nothing wrong with her except a gradual physical deterioration. “Is she getting any physiotherapy here?” I asked, “No.” he said.
“They” were saying that she was going to be put into a nursing home at £5,000 a month, which amount would be drawn against their home. He could live in it till he died, but then the money would go to the state. Five weeks before, the couple were managing for themselves.
During the time Mum was there I saw that lady decline from being able to sit up to spending her days lying in bed. Mum was worried about her, but couldn’t talk to her because the wards were so wide.
“What is this, some sort of holding place for elderly people?”, he asked me.
“It’s supposed to be for rehabilitation.”, I said.
“Well there’s not much of that going on. And they won’t let me take her home. We are trapped here.I ‘ve been told she is safe here, but what’s the point of being safe if you are so miserable? This isn’t life, it’s existence. Jane can’t see the television, can’t talk to anyone. It’s awful.”
At the end of the ward, near the telly, there were two ladies who were in bed all day.
The lady right next to Mum was pretty self-sufficient, and pottered around, spending much of her time in the day room.
I said I wanted to see the Sister. “I am very worried about my Mum. The more she does nothing the more her body will get used to doing nothing and she will just deteriorate. I thought there was supposed to be some rehabilitation, some physiotherapy going on here! Look at all these people, just lying here, without any intervention!”
I was upset and hustled in to the sister’s office.
The sister said that Mum’s safety was paramount. That because she said she was in pain, the physiotherapist would not get her up and moving. Supposing she did get up and fell? Then that would put the safety of the staff at risk.
“But is that all you do here? Just watch people walk? What do you consider rehabilitation? I would have thought you could do something with my mum. Get her legs stronger, get her body ready to move again. The longer she just sits there, the less likely she is ever going to be able to walk again! She wants to be back in her own home, not spending the rest of her life being lifted about! You are supposed to be helping her to get back to how she was before, not supervising her decline. And no-one, not here or at Kingston Hospital has ever told us what is wrong with her!……….It it was you or me who arrived at A and E not able to weight bear, you would hope someone might be interested to find out why! “.
“Hmmm, said the Sister, and we discussed Mum’s case a bit more. The effects of over medication, the falls, the vertigo, the falls, the pain, no fracture….
“Well, she has Sacral Insufficiency then. She won’t ever get much better.”
I just have to pretty much ignore this news.
The head physio arrived. He listened to me too. “I see, well we could get some chair based exercises for your mum sorted out. I will get X to come by and give her something to do. She’s not on at the moment, she will come round tomorrow.”
“Please do! If she can’t stand she should still be having some form of rehabilitation to help her. She has arms and she has a spine she can use, which should be exercised. She should not just be sitting doing nothing. You must be able to do something for her.”. Tomorrow was the only afternoon I wasn’t visiting.
X never came. She was the physio who had been round the house. I didn’t expect much and she didn’t even meet my expectations.
But, I had spotted a few of these scattered around the ward.
Mum has a set at home, and uses them daily. “Could Mum not use a pair of those pedals?”, I asked the Head Physio.
Yes of course she could, no problem!
And so she was set up with a set of pedals that had been lying redundant so far as I could see, and she used them, and she stood up and sat down again for most of the day.
“For goodness sake Mum, if they come and ask you if you can stand up, don’t say you are in pain, or they will leave you to it. Just get up and get on with it.”.
Within a couple of days Mum was on her feet again, and the physios wheeled a wheelchair behind her as she walked up and down to the Xmas Tree at the end of the corridor. Arrangements were made for her discharge.
She could walk, so she was out. They also gave her a chance to go without the catheter, and there are no retention problems. The Sister, who was nice, said about Mum’s discharge plans, which were basically that I would move in with Mum for 6 weeks, that it was good to give her a chance of living in her own home.
I’ve just asked Mum about the staff. She said the nurses were very good, but how the physios got away with doing £@*k all, she didn’t know. They had a gym full of stuff that they didn’t use. And it was only because I looked out for her that she got the pedals, and mobilised herself out of there. Her opposite neighbour is still in there, desperate to leave.
I wrote this letter to eight councillors and my MP after my Mum had had a frustrating stay in hospital. I received a reply from just one, which was more of an acknowledgement and good wishes than a real reply.
You are getting this email, either because you were present at a meeting about the closure of Hobkirk House in New Malden earlier this year or you are councillors representing my mothers ward, ((KT3), or you are my MP. Hobkirk House, apart from providing permanent care for a very small number of people, provided respite and rehab care for 24. It was being closed because of its age. I think it’s a 1970s build. Far as I could see it didn’t leak, it wasn’t draughty, but it is sitting on a bit of prime land.
If you were at that meeting, you may remember me. My father had just died and I spoke about the difficulties of managing two elderly people, Dad dying with cancer, Mum with severe mental health problems and difficulty walking.
My concern was, that mum had had rehab in Hobkirk House in the summer of 2014, and if they closed it, and she needed rehab again, where would she go?
Well, here we are, in just that situation. Mum is bed blocking in Kingston Hospital. She has been there since last Friday, so that’s 12 days now. She is waiting for a transfer to Tolworth Hospital.
When I brought my mum in, it was for X-rays, because she was unable to take weight on her left hip. There is no fracture, and they think it is a soft tissue problem.
Prior to that day she had been managing to live in her own home, with support from me and a carer, but fairly independently of state help. In fact she cost the state £80 a week higher rate attendance allowance, and I was claiming £60 carers allowance, in addition to her pension. So £140 a week. That’s against, I believe, £400 a day for a hospital bed. If she were in Tolworth rehab unit, I am guessing the cost would be more like £800 a week. The longer my mother is in hospital the more her physical state will deteriorate, and the longer she will need to be in a place of rehabilitation. This is all costing the country money.
She is getting more and more disabled as she waits. She is now catheterised, she lies in bed, or sits, she has an excellent appetite and is putting on weight, when she could really do with losing some. She now needs two people to help her move about, when at the beginning she just needed one.
There are two physiotherapists on the ward in Kingston Hospital for 26 patients. Say they actually work 7 hours a day with their patients, (unlikely what with all the paper work), that’s 14:26. Less than half an hour activity a day. And probably far less.
On the positive side, the staff are kind, the ward is spotless, and in good repair, the food is good, she has a lovely view out of the window.
She is in a ward with several other old ladies, who don’t look ill to me. They don’t need doctors, most of them.
How ridiculous that 24 rehab places were pulled from the Borough’s resources. Presumably it costs the council less and the state more to keep people in hospital? But it’s all public funds.
So why was I reassured that places would be there for my mother and others like her? Mention was made by somebody that the council would block buy nursing beds. But there is still a constant number of people needing those beds whether they are bought by the council or not. What happens to those 24 people displaced by the council bulk buy? Do they have to go further away, or just about survive at home propped up by exhausted carers? I can assure you there is no surplus of availability of beds in nursing homes in Kingston Borough. I know this as I tried to get Dad a place somewhere to die. They are very few and far between.
It’s really frustrating, particularly as Xmas approaches. If there had been a rehab place for mum last week, she might have been home for Xmas. I don’t think she will now, and that’s pretty miserable.
Update on this. I have just heard, as I am finishing this email, that there is now a transfer on the cards to Teddington this afternoon. Out of the borough. I live very near Tolworth.
Another phone call. They now have a place in Tolworth.
That’s two phone calls from one of those physios. I dare say they make a few of those, which eats into that time with their increasingly bed ridden clientele.
However this does not make this email irrelevant. She has still bed-blocked, gained weight, become a lot less fit for independent life, in the 12 days she has been in Kingston Hospital.
On the previous occasion she was accommodated within a day, at Hobkirk House.
There were 24 places. 23 other people like her and it’s cost a lot of money to the tax payer, and a lot frustration for us. However it’s saved the council a few bob.
The GP had said “It sounds like it might be a fracture. Go straight to X-Ray. Can you manage Mum in the car?”
I will try.
She had had a fall the previous week, and had been fine until now, six days later, but could not take the weight on her legs this morning because of acute pain.
Mum is sitting in her bedroom. I know that in the night she has made it to the loo, a few metres away, so she had been mobile just a few hours earlier. I help her get dressed, and into the wheelchair. She is in quite a lot of pain.
She needs to make a few steps down out of the house with the aid of the rail and then the zimmer before I can get the chair for her again, and just makes it. She is heavy, a size 18-20, but now shorter than me. She used to be 5’6″ and is now about 5’2″.
I have to get the wheelchair right against the side of the car and then help her so that she can pull herself with the straps and the aid of the door. She then has to swivel herself round to sit down. Her hip hurts a lot as she does this, but she is ok sitting down. We have to repeat this process in reverse to get her out. It’s exhausting for us both but at least we are not waiting about for a non-urgent ambulance.
Mum is taken off for X-Ray almost immediately.
In the waiting room a tiny auxiliary arrives, and asks a man, the only other person in the waiting room, to get out of the way while she removes a load of used gowns into her trolley to take for the wash.
“I’m sorry.”, he says.
“Don’t apologithe. You, you were doing nothing wrrrong!”, she lisps and purrs pointedly at him in an Iberian accent.
“Oh, ok, thank you!”
“You tho polite in thith country, you too polite, what you thank me for? Without you, I have no job. You think about that. Without thick people, all these people worrrking in this big hospital have no job. Hundreds of people, doctors and nurses and porrrters and cleaners! ha! Don’t you go getting well too soon! We relying on you!”
I smile. She’s a busy bee, she’ll be off being busy somewhere else soon.
“No really. You think about that. Without bad people there would be no police. Think of all the polithe without jobth, eh! Then they would turn to bad. And then we would need polithe again, eh! You ever thought about? What we would do without bad people, without thick people! No jobth here. No hothpitalth without thick people. I would be waiting table on minimum wage paying my tipth to my manager jutht to keep me in the job, huh!”
Her voice dropped a register as she saw she had me. “That’th what I was doing before. Shit job in fanthy rethtaurant in Wandthworth. Thith job, yeah, I thometimeth have to clean up shit, but people thank me, you know. It’th a good job.”
I smile at her. “It is a good job. Thank you.”
“Noooo. Don’t thank me! I need thith job. Thank you. Thank you.”.
I am dazed by this mighty atom in a green tunic who had run out of jobs to do in the waiting room, but who now has an audience which she knows was keeping her in her job: I had brought a book to read, but I am forced to look into her eyes and agree with her. She is not going to go away.
“You know, you look like nithe perthon, you give to charrity rrright?”.
I nod and nod. Where’s this heading? The man in the opposite corner looks up again and catches my eye.
“Me, never,” she almost erupted with rage. “The only charrrity I give to ith run from here by a nurthe. We pack toyth and toiletrieth into shoe boxtheth and that nurthe she takes them by van to poorrr people in Africa. She showed me pictureth of the shoe boxes being given to the poorrr people otherwithe, me, I would never have given her anything, but she’th a good person, yeth she ith. She doeth it. She doeth the job. No money watheted thee. You, YOU, mutht never give to charrrity when you don’t know where your money ith going.”. She puts her finger down. She has been waving it under my nose.
She pauses for breath. A supervisor glances in and our auxiliary slips like a little otter into the green curtains of the green walled changing rooms, ostensibly looking for green gowns, although she already knows there are none there.
The supervisor passes. Our inquisitor returns.
“You know canther charrrities, rrright? Millionth of dollarth are given to canther charities. Millionth. Trillionth probably, who knowth? Do you know?”
Neither I nor the man in the corner know.
“Well, let me tell you…..”
Well there was no thtopping her.
“……in Brathil, rrright, yearth ago, rright, there wath thith guy and he got canther, don’t know what kind of canther, and he cured it rright, with the bark of a local trree, made some pathte out of it and applied it or drrunk a powder he made out of it, and he cured himthelf! Amathing right? Do you believe that?”
As if we could speak.
“Anyway, he told the local doctorrr, and the doctor, he cured everrrybody, I mean EV-ERRR-Y-BOD-Y in the dithtrict. And the doctor he told the local pharrrmatheutical company, and you know where they are now? Eh? The doctorrr and that man who dithcovered how to cure canther? “.
We shake our heads.
“You think they rrrich men rrright? Where you think they arrre?”
Her eyebrows, plucked and redrawn into question marks, contort.
“They in prithon.”
She shakes her head. We all shake our heads.
I am thinking that I would have had time to nip home and let the dog out while I was listening to this while mum was being X-rayed.
“Thothe fat cat, thothe money rrraking bathtardth in thothe charitieth, they making a good living on your money. Yourrr money. Huh. You keeping thothe people in firth clathe travel. There’th already a cure for canther. Don’t give them any more of your money now! Eh!”
We find ourselves in collusion with her. We both agree never to give cancer charities.
“You know I tell you, I told you about my latht job, in the rethtaurant, rrright, dirty bathtard owner?”
“Every Thurthday, right, who cometh every Thurthday lunchtime for fantathtic meal? You know? You don’t know?”
The man’s wife has come back from X-ray now and he wants to get away but he can’t. His wife is trapped too, and she doesn’t know why. There’s a big open door right next to them.
“Fat catth from the counthil. And fat catth from the canther charity. They’ve got headquarterth in the next rroad. They get together every Thurthday for a fantathtic meal. Thteakth, good wine, the BETHT. Every Thurthday, I wait at their table. I have to pay my tipth, and man, they tip well, to the bathtard manager, to keep my job. Who payth for all that? Haha! You do. YOU DO!”.
Just then, the radiographer wheels Mum out. He is beaming. He tells us the they have X-Rayed her from every angle, and there is no fracture.
“So why can’t she stand?”
“I don’t know, but its not a fracture.”
“What do we do now then?”.
“I don’t know. Here she is! I am leaving her back with you now. Good-bye.”. Off he strides. The other man and his wife have escaped so quickly I didn’t see the going of them.
“I know what you do. You coming with me to A and E. They look after you there. You thee. I look after you.”.
And she took the handles of the wheelchair and pushed Mum to Casualty, and that is how Mum spent the next two weeks with nothing wrong with her apart from a sore hip, in Hospital.
They never did find out what was wrong with her. They made all the right, interested sort of noises, but they really were not interested in why she could not walk.
They inserted a catheter almost straight away so that she would have very little need to move, fed her well, kept her clean and safe.
It did my head in. In my opinion Mum needed physiotherapy so that she would get better, not a fortnight’s bed rest, and I wrote a letter to the council, which is my next entry.
The doorbell rang. The deaf dog didn’t notice, but I took him by the collar to the door so that he could bark loudly at any hawkers of circular distributors who had disregarded the notices on the gate, which read, helpfully, “No Hawkers or Circulars”, and, “Beware of the Dog”, and so end their visit in a cacophony of misunderstood welcomes.
However, it was Mum’s Community Mental Health Nurse. I had been half expecting her for a while, since the last visit by the lovely psychiatrist, who had come to discharge my mother, who had getting on for a half a century in the care of the NHS Mental Health Services. Mum deserved a gold watch, but was about to get the steel toe capped-boot.
I had been given about a month’s grace to prepare myself for the inevitable, and had been dreading this visit. It felt like we were being cut adrift from the familiar Mental Health Service raft of support, floundering into a sea of hazards of fragility, falls, pharmaceutical rock-ups by high street chemists, while the hydra headed monster of paranoia lurked in the shallows, with only the GP lifeboat service to send out flares of distress to.
“Soooo.”, drawled the nurse, drawing some papers out of her bag, and looking nervously at the dog, who was actually quiet. “You know why I’ve come today.”. But as it happened we spoke very little about the discharge papers she had in her hand.
I was pleased to see her, because she was kind and familiar, and we had a problem. And even if she could not solve our problem, she was someone I could talk to. That morning my mum had been in a lot of pain and had called me at about seven in the morning, unable to take her weight on her feet. I had had to put her in a wheelchair and assist her to get to the loo, and help her get dressed. Things were not looking good.
She had had a fall the previous week, caused by vertigo, when I had been at a meeting about carers’ rights. It wasn’t a bad one but I had called the GP and she was assessed as ok.
Mum had been falling over for the past couple of years for a few reasons. Over the decades anti-psychotic meds have had a lasting pseudo-parkinsonian effect on her body. Because of this she has to work really hard to stay mobile and to stay upright. In recent years she had been on too much medication, and drowsiness had caused her to have several falls, which had resulted in a lot of pain and some crush fracture damage to her pelvis, which is slightly osteoporotic. She also has vertigo. But despite all this Mum is pretty robust, and spurred on by my brother-in-law’s predictions of wheelchairs and nursing homes, I was determined to help her stay on her feet in her own home. Things had been going well in the last few months. She seemed to be on the right meds. With help from an osteopath she had been getting more mobile, with less pain, and significantly better balance. In fact until the very recent fall, she had not required any medical attention for several months, which was great.
Now we had a set-back.
The nurse put the discharge papers back in her bag, and advised calling the GP, and left. The GP said take her to X-Ray. And we were off into hospital world. I had to leave the dog for, oh, two, three hours at a time with predictable consequences for the floor as I oscillated between the hospital and the wet kitchen floor, a ten minute drive apart, with a Tesco Express handy for more kitchen roll. I also had to pick my grandchildren up from school.
At least we were still on the Community Mental Health list.