Sunday, 17th March, 2024

[Day 1462]

Today’s blog is going to seem rather a strange and, shall we say, unidimensional piece but as the events of the day unfolded it ought to be fairly easy to understand why. The carers for Meg were due a few minutes before 8.00am in the morning and we were up in plenty of time and waiting for them. Whilst Meg was seated on a bathroom chair, I took a shower and got dressed at which time the carers were scheduled to arrive. As they started to wash Meg something was very evidently amiss as she was totally unresponsive, was ashen faced in palor and seemed to be showing a slight sweat. After we could not get Meg to respond, the senior care worker phoned base for advice and was told ‘Phone 999’ which I did for the first time in my life. One hears the most terrible stories about ambulance delays but I think I must have struck exceeding lucky because the 999 calls handler at the words ‘unresponsive’ had got the ambulance on their way and even before the ambulance arrived and gave me advice how to keep Meg’s airways clear whilst they kept talking to me until the ambulance arrived. The paramedics were absolutely brilliant and soon got Meg into a recovery position on the floor and started to go through all of their procedures. Bit by bit, Meg’s vital signs started to recover and so we were able to rule out a heart attack and even a stroke started to look less and less likely. Within about half an hour they had got Meg alert and more or less responsive but they were in no doubt that Meg needed to go straight to the local hospital for more extensive tests. But their own hunch was that this was a rapid drop in blood pressure occasioned by what we cannot quite tell but not in the same league s heart attack or stroke. The paramedics were an older experienced male and a much younger female paramedic still in training but they were both brilliant and I was so impressed. I made sure that they gave me a form so that I could instantly rate their excellent performance, not to mention the response time which I could scarcely believe. My son and daughter-in-law were urgently summoned and they came as soon as they could- if the worst had come to the worst it might have been the last time they saw their parent sentient. I then went with the crew to the Princes Alexandra hospital in Redditch (known to all of locals as ‘The Alex’) I was slightly flummoxed to be asked if I had an ‘DNR’ (Do Not Resuscitate) protocol in place but fortunately I had taken the foresight years before to put this in a file at the front of the filing cabinet and I managed to locate it easily within seconds – not that it was needed, of course.

So we then entered the protocols in A&E departments at our major hospitals which involves several lengthy waits punctuated by the occasional medical procedure. We had ECGs performed (twice as the first did not ‘take’), extraction of blood to test for infections and finally a visit to the X-ray department to take X-rays of both thorax and also of the head to check for brain bleeds. As it was now approaching lunchtime, we ere offered a cup of soup and a sandwich which we gratefully accepted. not having had anything all day long. Then we had long, long waits occasionally punctuated by a visit from a couple of doctors. In the late afternoon, Meg started to get quite agitated but we found some medication of the type Meg takes at home which had a calming effect for a time. But then the waits got longer and longer. Eventually we offered an instant ‘meal’ which was a cup of soup and a baked potato wrapped in tin foil and a little carton of grated cheese. This helped us keep the wolf from the door but I think it is fait to say that as the hours progressed Meg got increasingly restive and agitated and was sometimes difficult to keep in a calm condition before we ere finally admitted to an assessment ward at 8.30 having been in the hospital I would say for 11+ hours.

The upshot of all of this is that the medics think that all major organs seem to be functioning but that the Alzheimer’s (which I have not explicitly mentioned until now) is taking its toll of Meg’s mobility and ability to stand. They would not allow Meg to be allowed home until a full and thorough assessment had been made by the hospitals physiotherapy and OT staff and a support package was well and truly in place. So a hospital stay of one or two nights in an assessment unit was to be put into effect and we would assess what support was needed for he future. There is a kind of irony in all of this in that GPs/social services regard the care they have been receiving as adequate but that the local hospital will not discharge until these have been enhanced. Tomorrow morning, there will have to be urgent talks with social services to see if Meg’s care package can be improved to include evening as well as morning care and who knows what else besides. So I will turn up at the hospital with Meg’s medications (that they did not stock) and perhaps a book or so. This evening, I gave my good University of Winchester friend a phone call so I could update him on Meg’s condition and call for a degree of moral support (which we do try and afford to each other as the conditions of our respective wives deteriorate)