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Monday, 30 March 2015

A trip to the hospital

It's 3.30am and I can't sleep so I get up and make a pot of coffee and sit down in front of the PC.

The day was a bit of a disaster with mum admitted to hospital because of an infection. When I arrived at the nursing home in the morning she was sitting in her chair and her mouth was doing a strange thing - which I later worked out was because she was dehydrated - but she was slumped there and her iPad was on the table under the window when usually it was left on the wheeled table under the other window, where the Apple charger unit is plugged in.

I checked the call record and saw that my brother had tried to call her about 40 minutes earlier and I asked mum if he had called. I called him back but the conversation didn't go well as mum was unresponsive - partly, I worked out later, because of the dehydration - and my brother didn't persevere with his questions and statements. We rang off soon and I asked mum to go back to bed but she couldn't move and just stood there in front of her easy chair - after I helped her out of it - with her feet apart unable to locomote.

When I got her into bed and handed her a glass of water I went to see the nurses and we talked about mum's funny mouth and her inability to walk. The nurse told me that mum had taken her pills that morning and chewed them, when usually she knows to swallow them. She had then refused water when normally she takes it readily to wash down pills. The nurse decided to call an ambulance as the only other alternative was to wait for an out-of-hours doctor - it was a Sunday - but it was obvious that mum was not doing well.

When the ambulance crew arrived in mum's room they went through the routine for assessing whether there had been a stroke but that was negative. One of them mentioned that mum's skin was quite warm and they gave a preliminary diagnosis of a urinary tract infection - which turned out to be correct - and then wheeled mum out into the hallway and down in the lift to their vehicle which was parked in the driveway of the nursing home. I went down to my car and they told me a few minutes later that we would be going to Ryde hospital. I followed the ambulance through the streets until we arrived at the hopsital.

In the emergency room mum was placed on a bed and I sat down beside her in a chair I would occupy for the best part of the next six hours. Luckily after parking the car I had bought a meat pie at the kiosk next door to the hospital entrance, and eaten it. I had also called my cousin, who had seen mum the day before at the nursing home, and she told me that she had thought mum was unresponsive when they had been talking and eating lunch together.

After a while the doctor arrived and we talked about mum's condition. The nurses went about getting pathology samples and at one stage mum was wheeled out to have an X-ray and a CT scan done. I told the doctor about mum's advance health directive and where to find it. When I was not talking to people - things were very quiet for the bulk of the time apart from electronic beeps - I sat in the chair next to mum's bed and dozed. I asked her how she felt at one stage and she startled me by replying, "Like a stuffed chook." In the end mum had a canula in each wrist, one of which was feeding antibiotics into her bloodstream. When that was not being pumped in the nurses hooked up a bag of fluids so that mum would not dehydrate.

Later the emergency room nurse asked an orderly to shift mum to a new bed and wheel her to a regular ward. The ward has six beds, all with elderly women in them, although mum's neighbour, who is excessively fat, was sitting in a chair. The woman across the room from mum's bed was also sitting in a chair. "Her name's Judith," mum said. "I always said you hardly ever find people named Judith in Queensland." I did not go through the usual routine of reminding mum that we were now living in Sydney. With the shift to the hospital and all the different sights and sounds I felt it was irrelevant to start insisting on a point of fact that was, in her mind, anyway questionable. She had enough things to occupy her without me being my usual self. Nothing was usual now. I sat in another chair and watched mum acclimatise.

I left and drove home on the motorway. When I got home I made dinner and watched some TV, then went to bed. Around an hour ago however I woke up and could not go back to sleep so I got up.

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