Sunday, 5 April 2015

Mum gets out of hospital after eight days of admission

This is a photo of mum on the day she was taken to hospital, which was last Sunday, which means that she was in hospital for eight days. Today I had just bought hot coffees for mum and myself and I was walking from the kiosk to the hospital's front entrance when the phone rang and it was the nurse in mum's ward telling me that mum was to be discharged. I hurried upstairs and made arrangements, and soon brought my car around to the back of the hospital to take mum back to the nursing home. She was still wearing her hospital gowns and the orange socks the hospital issues patients that have white rubber studs on the soles to prevent the wearer from slipping.

Back at the nursing home I parked the car under the building and mum and I walked arm-in-arm to the elevator. We took it up two levels, back to the first floor, where mum's room is located, and I gave the nurse standing near the elevator doors the hospital's discharge documents and the plastic bag full of medicines the hospital had given me, which included mum's oral antibiotics. We went back to mum's room and two staffers came to help mum change clothes into normal clothes, then I took a call on the iPhone from my brother and he and mum talked for a few minutes.

Mum is not quite all there however and I could sense something amiss in the course of the Facetime conversation she had with my brother. Things were not quite getting through between the two of them. Mum did not really seem to actually understand where she was. Although the hospital physiotherapist had ascertained that mum had reverted - post the treatment for the blood infection she had been admitted to hospital for - back to a baseline equal to where she was prior to admission, in cognitive terms I feel that mum is still getting back to that point. There remains a deficit linked to the dislocation, which is understandable in someone who is living with dementia, because she had been completely removed from familiar surroundings for over a week's time. I asked mum during lunch - when we finally made it to the dining room together - where she was and she said, "In a boarding house."

"Almost," I thought; and it did in fact make sense if you have ever read a story set in an old fashioned boarding house. There are the shared meals in the dining room, for example, and the changing faces as people arrive at the establishment and leave it. Mum was not far off the mark. But the mistake said a lot about where she is, in a cognitive sense, following the illness she has just recovered from. She is in a shifting landscape. She knows when she is cold, for example, but may not know how to change the temperature on the air conditioning control unit. She may need to follow the call of nature but may not know which direction to go in in order to reach the bathroom. There are pieces missing, and hopefully, with time, they will be filled in with new images and ideas. We can only wait and see.

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