This time last year DH and I took a holiday to the island of Arran where we did lots of walking and I did hardly any cooking. We were beginning to unwind and feel the benefit of our break when Wee-sis rang to say the Goldfish had been rushed to hospital. They thought it might have been a TIA and were talking about doing a scan to see if there was any bleeding in the brain.
Wee-sis had been coming to give the Goldfish his breakfast and met the step-monster, hyperventilating at the garden gate. She had left the Goldfish unconscious on the floor. Wee-sis said she was afraid the step-monster was going to have a heart attack as she was in such a panic she could hardly breathe (step-monster, not Wee-sis). She called an ambulance, put the Goldfish into the recovery position and, to give her something useful to do, sent the step-monster to fetch a blanket.
The ambulance arrived within minutes. By then, the Goldfish had regained consciousness but couldn’t move his right arm and had lost the ability to speak which is why the paramedics suspected a stroke. Once in the ambulance, though, he seemed to be able to talk again although much of it didn’t make sense. Wee-sis says not to cut short our holiday but although we decided to stay on, it was no longer relaxing. Daily phone calls with progress reports were both looked forward to and dreaded. The signal where we are staying was terrible, other than in the supermarket car park, so calls were frequently abruptly cut off, with the ensuing quandary of who was calling whom back?
At least, DH and I kept reassuring ourselves the Goldfish was in Ward 18, the ward for people with dementia and last time he was admitted there we were impressed by the standard of care. The nursing staff had been cheerful and good-humoured, even when the Goldfish dumped another patient’s slippers in the bin. He’d apparently tried them on, realised they weren’t his and disposed of them. He’d appropriated his neighbour’s shaver and walking stick.
I took in his ‘This Is Me’ file which contains masses of personal information from the work he did before retirement to hobbies and interests, likes and dislikes. The nice thing was the nurses kept it with his notes and actually read it so were able to talk to him about his work and so on.
Hospital visiting hours can seem never-ending, especially when there is no real conversation with the patient. I took in dominoes and a magic painting set – remember them? All you need is water and a paintbrush and the colour appears as if by magic. The ones I bought were pictures of sportsmen and are specially made for people with dementia. Once the picture is complete it is left to dry and the colours fade so it can be used over and again. Time passed quickly with the Goldfish absorbed and happy, other visitors looking on enviously! The nurse in charge of the ward said if she’d been staying on the ward she’d have bought some for patients to us. I should have taken note of that ‘if I’d been staying’ remark.
Back from holiday and our first port of call is the hospital and Ward 18. We walked in to find the Goldfish sitting on a chair beside his bed in his pyjamas, no dressing gown and the bedside table was awash with spilt water which had also formed a puddle on the floor. He had rested his feet – no slippers – on the leg of the table to keep them out of the water. There was food including chips on the far from clean floor and an unidentifiable orange blob of something under his neighbouring patient’s chair.
The Goldfish was looking okay though anxious to come home. I spent time with him, telling him about our holiday, looking at the postcards I’d sent him, though one was totally saturated by the spilt water while the DH went off to speak to staff.
He came back disgruntled – it’s the weekend, no doctor has been to see the Goldfish yesterday or today, they don’t know why they didn’t do the scan Wee-sis said they were going to do, nor could they tell him very much at all about what the diagnosis was. We would have to wait until the next day to speak to someone who might know something. Depressing.