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Where I’ve Been – Hospital and Dementia

Apologies to everyone who expects regular posts from me.  It’s been a bit of a whirlwind week or two, starting with my mother falling and breaking her hip.  As a hospital patient, she hasn’t had the best time, and I find how they’re treated quite cruel, but I’m just the person who looks after her 24/7, and I suspect they think I’m being a bit of a pest now, but I can’t just watch her so miserable.

She coped with the wait to go to hospital pretty well, and the operation also went well, with her smiling broadly at the offer of a piece of chocolate once she was out of recovery.  It went downhill from there.

Her blood sugar began to rise and rise.  They use finger prickers for great big burly blokes with calloused hands on everyone, and all her fingers are black and blue.  They even used her index fingers, which is a big no no, as they are so sensitive.  My brother fell out with them one day, and the next day, they transferred her to the rehabilitation ward.  That went as badly as everything else was going.  She was hallucinating, delirious, hadn’t eaten for nearly 4 days, and had no clue what was going on.  The dementia along with the operation knocked her for six.

She was dropped off in the rehab ward in the afternoon, and when I got there at 7pm, there she was, miserable, hallucinagenic, in a chair that there is no way to rest her head on.  Absolutely shit done. Apologies for swearing, but hospital have given me a lot of reasons to swear this last week.  I cleared her suitcase from the bed, where it was still sitting from when she’d arrived.  She hadn’t been helped to eat, despite not being able to see at that point, as well as hallucinating, and nobody noticed.

This was her a few years ago.  She’s a shadow of her former self now, having lost a lot of weight in the last week.

My brother was called up for her not having any clothes, but because she was in that chair, I’d popped her clothes into a drawer, as she was blocking the wardrobe, just to clear space so she could lie down for a while.  They didn’t bother to check there.  Then they popped her on a toilet and left her alone for 20 minutes, while he paced outside the ward and they eventually went back.  If he hadn’t been there checking his watch, I suspect she’d have been there for longer.

I thought that once we’d pointed out she couldn’t see, that she’d have an easier time.  I was kidding myself.  Daily, she’s been plonked in that cruel chair, made to sit there for hours, bolt upright, with nothing to do, and by the time they try and do physiotherapy with her, she’s exhausted and in no way able to cope..  Every time I go in, she’s done.  Heavy eyes, miserable, exhausted, ill, vomiting and more, yet there she is, sitting miserably in that chair, not understanding why she’s there, or why everyone is being so horrible to her and making her sit upright for so many hours at a time.

We had to go in twice a day to make sure she had something to eat and drink.  By day 5, she became very aggressive, and despite me telling them there was something wrong with her blood sugar, it took a week for them to realise she’d been on the wrong insulin since she came in.  Misprescribed.

It took another day for them to watch her try to eat, which isn’t easy when you suddenly can’t see, and they finally agreed to feed her.   She’d kept knocking over all her water and food you see, and probably was annoying when she did that, but she was having to feel for things, and the dementia meant she couldn’t tell them what was wrong.  She’ll never be able to tell them what’s wrong.

Today, I went in to help with physio, and I felt like crying for her when I went in.  There she was, head bobbing on that awful chair, obviously after sitting there for hours on end, not moving at all.  I got two steps from her when she started to heave.  A bowl full of bile later, at 11.30 am, eyes hooded and miserable, I asked them to put her to bed.  They didn’t want to.  Lunch was coming soon.  Really, lunch, after her just vomiting……

Then they told me that if I wanted her put to bed, they wouldn’t feed her, as they didn’t agree with eating in bed, even with the back straight up.  I told the male nurse that she was miserable, and just to look at her.  He said she looked fine to him.  Honestly, if that is fine, I’d hate to see how close to death someone has to be, to look ill.  I told him what they were doing to her was cruel.  She doesn’t sit up for 15 hours a day, in a straight back chair that forces her head forward at home, so why should she be made to do that in hospital.  It’s not as if sitting in that chair is helping her to be mobile, as she’s not moving when she’s in it, at all.  She gets far  more movement having repeated stints of up and down from bed to chair, so she can rest in between.  I suspect it’s got more to do with not having to change the bed when she wets it.

Ten minutes after putting her to bed, she needed the toilet.  I told the lady at reception, and got told that dinner had started and she’d have to wait thirty minutes.  Really?  Thirty minutes for a sick woman, recovering from a broken hip op, vomiting every day regularly, eating hardly anything, massively suffering from dementia, still hallucinating and still struggling to control her hands.  No way can she listen to having to wait.  Disgusted, I told them to enjoy the wet bed in thirty minutes and went back to her.   Tears were flowing down her face when I told her they’d have to get the machine again.  They came a few minutes later.

True to their word, they didn’t come to feed her at 12, so I did it, even though she still felt nauseous, then I cleaned her filthy nails, shaved her chin, and brushed her teeth and tongue, which were disgusting.  A rehab ward is no place for a sick woman, that’s for sure.  If they let her relax in the morning after she gets dressed, she’d be in a better place to do rehab, then rest again, but that blasted chair needs to be scrapped from use for actual sick patients.  It’s damned cruelty what they do.  She’s still not seeing, and I had to really press it with the doctor as her sight was pretty good the day before she went there, and now it’s pretty bad.  They’ve messed with her anti-depressants and she’s heading downhill, and there’s no need for that to happen at all.

They simply don’t have the time for her.   She doesn’t make any fuss.  She can’t physically make any fuss.  I’m pestering them to take her to the toilet, my brother has fallen out with a couple of the staff now, and she’s the only one in her ward who is immobile.  The rest are all physically able and can make their needs known.  She can’t.

I’m absolutely disgusted with that chair more than anything else.  Far more than the days they ignored her hallucinations and inability to see.

So there you have it.  This week, on top of the kids, work, and having to go to hospital to check she’s had a rest, my time has been swallowed up, and then some.  Hopefully service will resume as normal in a little while.  I just wish she’d become a bit more vocal and be able to press that buzzer for help, but it’s never going to happen.

To end with, don’t get me wrong, there are some lovely people there, but they have a schedule to stick to, and she’s not fitting into it.  She’s lived with me for so long, it’s like having my child in hospital, so yes, I’m becoming annoying to them, but I had a fabulous mum, and she deserves someone fighting in her corner to make her as comfortable as possible while she’s going through tough patches.  I suspect I could get her on her feet again if she was properly rested before physio started, but they’re not prepared to do that.   That torture chair must be on their tick tick list.  I don’t know how this will end, but based on hospital care, it’s harder going for her than it should be.

6 thoughts on “Where I’ve Been – Hospital and Dementia

  1. I’m so sorry you are going through this. I know exactly how you feel. I was sole carer for my dad until his dementia got so bad 2 years ago but I had no choice to put him in a home. He also broke his hip and was sent to a rehab unit which he hated (I’m wondering if it’s the same one). I do think the care system for dementia patients in Scotland is lacking. I fought for so much help and felt often at the end of my tether. I hope you get your mum out that horrible chair and the staff start to listen 🙁

    1. The hospital keep asking me how I cope at home, and am I stressed!!! I’m most stressed about the care that was provided in her first 10 days in hospital than I’ve been in the last few years I’ve been caring for her. It’s distressing to watch, and must be to live it. I know they have to get them up, but there must be a better way. Possibly is the same rehab unit if it’s Aberdeen, though there are a few different wards and buildings I think. The dementia system is flawed. In giving them leeway to make choice, they give them none at all, as they can’t make those choices, no matter how often they get asked. Soul destroying to see them keep on handing her a buzzer, when the only time she’ll ever use it is when she leans on it by mistake.

      I’ve managed to get them to agree to put her back to bed a few times a day, and her meds are back to what they were before they decided to reduce them without telling me, so she’s looking better today for the first time in nearly two weeks. x

  2. Oh this is just too, too sad my friend. I know very little of the medical services afforded there. Is there any chance of getting her into a different facility? Well, that isn’t helpful to you, so I’ll just say there are many hugs of support coming your way, along with prayers for you and your beautiful mum.

    1. Our NHS is actually pretty great, but for elders, it’s a little unforgiving I’m finding, especially when you add in dementia and diabetes. I dread to think what a care home would be like. x

  3. I am heartbroken reading this – your poor poor mum and you for witnessing this awful treatment she is having. With tears in my eyes it has brought my mum’s awful treatment in hospital 15 years ago – its was just awful. Contact the PALS (Patient Advice Liaison Service) office at the hospital and tell them what is happening and how unhappy you are they will have to look into it and report back to you. I witnessed awful care when my mum was poorly – I complained at the time and because of that some of the nursing staff were very “unhelpful” – your mum should be treated with the dignity she deserves and so should you and your family. I hope you mum makes a good recovery

    1. It’s a little better now that she’s back on the right medicine, but her diabetes isn’t well controlled in hospital and her sight is still much deteriorated. I’m not quite sure how I’ll manage her at home when she’s released at the moment, but I guess I still have some time before that happens. Still very tired though.

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