Yesterday, all my troubles were definitely not far away. We all know things can happen in a breath and when they do you appear to enter some form of altered reality.
Before I start to relay my tale, I’ll let you know up front that things appear, so far, to be ok. I’m writing this blog post for a couple of reasons; one to help me deal with things and two, to give a little insight into life as a carer.
My fairy of a Mom had a sudden collapse yesterday around 1 pm. Dad shouted for me and when I seen her I immediately dialled 999 for paramedics. All colour had drained from her, she couldn’t breathe, she was boiling hot, weak, dizzy, reteching, feeling sick and barely able to talk. Dad was in a state but remaining calm, I was in stress city but for some reason I’m always good in a crisis. I fall apart afterwards. Paramedics arrived within fifteen minutes and all vital signs were fine, which was a relief, but Mom was still very sick. The decision was made she would need to go to hospital. I ran around like a crazy thing grabbing what I thought we’d need. It was afternoon, I knew Dad would be ok for a couple of hours but he was crying as they carried Mom out to the ambulance. I was trying to calm him down, I knew how he felt, but I had to stay strong.
Mom was very quiet, still very sick and weak. We were booked into A & E and transferred to a bed outside the already occupied bays. I stood by the trolley and cuddled her. She looked so small and frail. The Doctors and nurses were wonderful. We were in a bay fairly quickly, vitals were taken again and were all good. Blood samples were taken as it takes about ninety minutes for the results, so best to not delay. Mom was made a cup of tea, she was more talkative, the colour was returning to her cheeks, she was able to drink her tea and she wasn’t feeling sick.
We then seen the Senior Doctor and a Junior Doctor; lots of examinations, questions, and assessment. Mom was much improved by this time. The Doctor said he would await the blood tests before making a decision on whether Mom could come home. If we were being kept in, it meant I had to ensure there was a carer at home overnight with Dad.
We were wheeled out of the bay and Mom was given some tea and toast. Mom was asking lots of questions about what happened and what’s happening next and when could we go home to Dad. I could see myself she was back to normal by now, but it had taken three and a half hours. A senior sister came over to chat to Mom; she needed Mom to get up and walk so they could check her mobility…and that’s when the mood changed. Mom would not get off that bed until she was ready, she was no longer listening to me, she was doing things her way. After a few minutes she got off the bed and started to walk around the area, bearing in mind we were still in the area where the ambulances bring in the patients and it was busy, with all kinds of ailments, medical, mental, alcohol and here was my dot of a Mom strolling around through it all, me trying to hold Mom, bags and jackets and try to get her to sit down. I was scared she would fall and break a hip again. Apart from not wanting that to happen, nor wanting a two week stay in hospital there would be the panic of looking after Dad too!
The Doctor arrived to say all bloods were fine, they were satisfied what had happened was a sudden drop in blood pressure. We could go home and I was to keep an eye on things. Hooray I thought, so relieved that all was ok and we could go. Mom however had other ideas. She wouldn’t leave the department, she did not think I was taking her home in a taxi. Mom wanted Dad. I phoned Dad to talk to her, she wouldn’t speak with him. The taxi arrived, she wouldn’t walk out to it. I had to send the taxi home to get Dad and bring him to the hospital so that he could take her home. In the midst of this our Parish Priest arrived and Mom sat down to chat with him. He then waited for Dad to arrive and walked him in to where we were. So now I had two of them sitting in what was becoming an increasingly busy department as evening rolled in…and no sign of going home. I was stood in the middle of the department, with it all unraveling in front of me in a kind of fog, wondering what the hell I was supposed to do now. It was all down to me to sort this out, do something, but what?!!!
Inspiration arrived. I contacted the lovely male carer who visits each week to see if needed, could he stay overnight with Dad, yes he could. I was thinking I’d have to send Dad home and I’d stay with Mom until she was ready to move. There was still no sign of movement towards home when I returned to them so I called our wonderfully kind neighbour who Mom has girlie evenings with if I’m off to a show; she said she would come down to A & E and hopefully that would entice Mom to come home.
When I got back to them this time, Mom’s mood had changed back and she was ready to come home. So, the three of us took a very slow walk, me trying to hold them both steady, over towards the A & E waiting room. Half way there our neighbour approached, Mom was delighted to see her. We sat at a table and bought tea and I called another taxi. Another very slow walk out into the evening and into the car. The taxi driver was lovely, he treated Mom like she was his own family, put her in the seat next to him and they chatted all the way home. Such kindness was so appreciated. Tea and toast all round, our neighbour came in to chat to Mom and all was calm. Four hours after we were told we could come home, we were home!
I didn’t care last night that we didn’t get to bed. Mom was ok, safe, warm and asleep in her chair, I was happy to be on the sofa watching over her. I had settled Dad to bed, he was worn out after the day.
Today has been a slow, tired out, just hitting me kind of day. Mom did amazingly well considering her ordeal and I think it was actually better that she was in her strong, independent mood as she coped with things better than if she felt afraid or vulnerable. She slept a lot today but she must have been shattered.
It was one thing me going to hospital with Mom and being able to leave Dad alone for a few hours but should it be the other way around, I couldn’t leave Mom unattended and I’d have to be very careful who was here. The emergency back up service will supply me with a nurse but it will be someone we have never met and there is no way around that. This will not be good but I may not have a choice.
Tonight, we have made it to bed, Dad has had some angina so I’m on wide awake alert. Today I stood in the kitchen thinking “this is to much for me”, “I can’t cope/deal/take on all this responsibility” and all the time the quote about God not giving us more than we can handle kept coming to mind. Self-care has come to mind too; I’m tired, I’ve forced myself to eat because I know I need to have strength for tomorrow, if I keel over, we have real problems here.
I need to build more contingency plans, I’m not sure how or who with but I need to have things in place. I don’t know how quickly the emergency carers can be here. I don’t know if our companion carers can successfully cover emergencies. I don’t know if there is anything else I can put in place to assist us…I need to find out. My chap couldn’t come to help me yesterday as he is currently alone caring for his Mother whilst his sister is on holiday.
Ever thankful to our fantastic NHS, we are so lucky to have the healthcare system that we do in the UK.
Here’s to a less tired, calmer, less stressful weekend.