My Dad’s A Goldfish – Health check

cropped-goldfish-87-1254566814ncva1.jpgIt was a glorious late spring morning with blue skies and sunshine. Once the support worker arrived I was free until the next day. Wee-sis was going to take over when the carer left and sleep over so I was in holiday mode and looking forward to a day tidying up in the my own garden, maybe reading in the sun (if I could manage to ignore the weeds jeering at me from the flower beds and paths).

First, I was off to avail myself of the free health check provided by a charity which gives support to carers. I’d had to fill in a list of questions before the health check and a community nurse took me through my answers before the physical check was done by the trainee nurse. I think the questions were to help identify anyone who might be at risk of depression. I wasn’t, at least not before we started the examination.

Height and weight were different from what I expected – I seemed to have lost an inch in height. I did wonder if I should ask her to do it again after I’d corrected my posture but let it go, especially as by then I’d discovered I was about six pounds heavier than I thought I was. Still, the nursesphygmomanometer-915652_640 assured me my weight was fine.

The only time I’ve had raised blood pressure was when I was pregnant in Pakistan and the DH had been kidnapped in Afghanistan so I wasn’t too concerned about it, at least not until the trainee nurse was checking it for the third time and looking worried. The nurse checked again, the figures were recorded and we moved on to the cholesterol test. No worries there as I do have a pretty healthy diet. Wrong, the reading was too high. Further tests were required and blood was taken.

Questions about lifestyle and diet followed. I admitted that in recent months I had not been taking as much exercise as I did in the past, mainly because it was difficult to find the time to go for a walk. I received a tick for being a non-smoker but when it came to alcohol consumption it was another black mark.

“Do you drink alcohol?”
“Yes, I do. I like a glass of red wine before bed.”
“Is it a small glass?”
“No, it’s a large glass, accompanied by a wee dish of stuffed green olives.”
“How many evenings would you say you have a drink?”
DSCF0743s“Every evening.” I should have lied.
“You know you should give your liver two alcohol-free days every week?”
“Look, I have two evenings a week when I am at home in my own house, going to sleep in my own bed knowing someone else is looking after the Goldfish. I enjoy sitting back with my glass of wine. On the other five nights when I am with the Goldfish, I NEED my glass of wine.”

The nurse pressed on me a neat little thing which tells you how many calories are in wine, beer, spirits and a measure to make sure tipples at home are no larger than in a pub. She said when she received the cholesterol test results she’d be in touch and would come to re-check my blood pressure at home. If it was still as high then she’d want to do a 24-hour monitor.

The sun was still in the sky when I made my way home, but the shine had gone from my day.

PS: The cholesterol test came back perfectly normal. It may have been a fault in the equipment the nurse used. When she came to check my blood pressure, two of three readings were fine – the third, slightly higher one, was, I’m sure a natural consequence of having my BP checked three times. We did not discuss my alcohol consumption.

My Dad’s a Goldfish – Home at last

cropped-goldfish-87-1254566814ncva1.jpgThree weeks after his seizure, the Goldfish was discharged from hospital. I had a busy day before he came home, tidying the house, shopping for food, buying a sofa so that when he is in his recliner chair we can be sitting close to him both for reasons of togetherness and hearing, paid his bills and cooked dinner. I also had to contact the various care agencies who provide care services to make sure the Goldfish was back on all their rotas.

The Goldfish was delighted to be home though he asked, almost at once where the step-monster had gone and when would she be back. It’s been a while since he asked about her and can only think coming back home jogged something in his memory. We did our usual muttering about how she’d gone to see her sister. How could we tell him she’d left him?

He has come home still with a catheter in place. While he was in the infirmary we had asked nurses repeatedly about this and why it had never been removed – not once – to see if he was able to pass urine without it. Finally tracked down the doctor who seemed genuinely surprised to hear the catheter had not been removed and wrote a note to this to be done. His instruction was ignored.

At the community hospital, I tried again and was initially told they’d give him a day or two to settle in first. Maybe I should have insisted they did it on the first day but I let it go. It was several days before they finally removed it and it was back in place before I went in to visit. They said he hadn’t passed urine. I tried pointing out that he could go for hours without having a pee, even when taking his water tablets, and I didn’t think they had left it out for long enough. The matter, as far as they were concerned, was now closed.

Now we had to be even more vigilant in making sure the Goldfish drank enough to prevent urinary tract infections and we had to learn how to deal with urine bags and night bags and all the rest of it. Oh, and how to get his elastic stockings on while keeping the catheter in place.

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About to do battle with the elastic stockings

It was lovely to have him home and see his obvious enjoyment of being back in familiar surroundings. The Goldfish went to bed happily around 11pm – and slept all night. Joy! And was more than ready for his breakfast next morning with his number one care assistant.

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Tucking into breakfast

My Dad’s A Goldfish – in hospital (still)

cropped-goldfish-87-1254566814ncva1.jpgThe Goldfish had been in the infirmary for almost two weeks when he was transferred to the community hospital for ‘rehab’ before coming home. During his time in the infirmary following the seizure, he had recovered from two bouts of pneumonia, had had other seizures we were not told initially about and after so long in bed had lost his mobility.

The first time we went in he was sitting in a chair beside his bed. On the notice board above his bed it said he couldn’t walk unaided and he must have two people helping him with his walking frame. The Goldfish obviously hadn’t read this and several times had attempted to get up and walk.

He was transferred on his birthday so we arrived with cake, cards, including one from the young lad with a collapsed lung who’d been in the bed opposite the Goldfish in the infirmary and gifts, Although he had no idea it was his birthday, and the news that he had reached the age of 88 didn’t seem to mean anything to him, the Goldfish was happy to tuck into his chocolate cake. He choked a few times but this in no way put him off.

Next time I went in the Goldfish had caused a bit of a panic when they’d lost him. Maybe he had read the notice and thought: “I’ll show you who can’t walk.” He’d borrowed another patient’s walker and taken himself off to explore – or maybe he thought he was going home. What worried the staff most was that they had left a door open and feared he might have got outside. They found him sitting alone in the physiotherapy department and escorted him back to his chair. Then, they fitted an alarm – an electronic tag at his age! It was a wire attached to a box gadget which sat on the bed. If he stood up and moved away the wire would slide off the item of clothing to which it had been attached setting the alarm off. A nurse would appear before he had the chance to go walkabout.

On my next visit – we went several times a day during visiting hours and at meal times to make sure he was fed – the Goldfish decided he was coming with me. He stood up and I watched for the wire to unclip itself as he moved forward. However, he picked up the box and slipped it in his pocket so the wire remained connected. I swear he winked at me.

Next time I discovered him down a corridor, sitting in a wheelchair he’d ‘borrowed’. He used it the way Fred Flintstone drove his car – feet going as fast as he could make them. “Hello, dear,” he said when he saw me, big beam on his face, eyes twinkling. Those moments of utter lucidity and clarity are astonishing and precious.