Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Taking mum to the blood doctor

This is a picture of mum singing a song. The song she is singing in the photo was probably Stormy Weather, the old Lena Horne song, which my brother got playing on his computer and which mum and I could hear through the iPad. Mum loves singing these old songs. My brother also found another song that mum remembered but I forget what it was now.

We had gone back into mum's room after lunch. Unusually I had arrived at the nursing home at around midday this time because mum had an appointment with her haematologist this afternoon. I had earlier booked myself in to eat lunch in the dining room. Lunch was salmon with bok choy and mashed potato. It was very tasty although as usual the portion was too small for me.

Mum and I talked with my brother for about 20 minutes on the iPad, and sang two songs, then we started to get ready to go out. Even though the temperature outside today was in the high-30s mum insisted on wearing a winter jacket over a cardigan. We went out to the front desk and I signed mum out of the building, then we went downstairs to the car. I disassembled mum's walker and put it, folded, into the car's boot. The journey to the doctor's office only takes about 10 minutes. It was about 2pm by this time.

We parked the car in the carpark of the medical facility. It is made up of dozens of doctors' offices in one building, and on occasion it is hard to find parking in the lot but today we had no trouble getting a space for the car. I got the walker out of the boot and put it back together, then with mum I walked slowly up to the front door. Inside the building there is a central atrium with a huge ramp constructed at a slight gradient leading up to the offices on the second floor. We had to go up there. It usually takes mum a while to negotiate the ramp and by the time she makes it to the top she is out of breath, as happened this time too.

In the waiting room we waited for about 10 minutes while the doctor saw another patient. I had forgotten the list of medications mum is currently taking, and that one of the nurses in the nursing home had given to me to show the haematologist, so by the time the doctor was ready I had to scoot outside to go back to the car to retrieve it. When I got back to the doctor's office the door was open and I walked in and closed it, then sat down, handing the plastic folder with the list in it to the doctor.

He said by way of introduction that mum's platelet count was doing as well as he could have imagined it would, when he had started her on the cortisone treatment. We discussed one of the medications that mum is taking. The doctor wanted to see mum's arms so we had to take off her jacket and cardigan, and he expressed surprise that she was wearing so many layers of clothes on such a hot day. I told him that she was always like this, regardless of the weather. I also told him about mum's most recent hospital admission at the beginning of this month, and how after she had returned to the nursing home after the admission she still had had delusions for about a week, and that they had eventually disappeared. He said that the delirium in the hospital and the delusions were due to the severity of the infection.

Regarding the cause of the infection he said it might have been due to the cellulitis in mum's legs. This is a low-grade and (in her case) permanent infection that causes the legs to be red and painful. He pulled down mum's long socks and had a look at her legs. He said they were good socks and I told him a bit about how we had come to buy them through a specialist footwear provider, who had also supplied mum with her oversize shoes. These shoes had become necessary - some may recall - when her feet had swelled up last year.

When the doctor had finished with mum and had dictated a letter to mum's GP he ushered us outside and I paid for the consultation. The receptionist put the Medicare claim back through the cash card straight away. Then we returned to the car down the ramp in the central atrium and drove back to the nursing home. Mum said how the sky was beautiful. I left her to have a nap in her room, because by this time she was completely exhausted. I told her I would be back in a couple of days.

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