Monday, 25th March, 2024

[Day 1470]

What an extraordinary and unpredictable day this has been. March 25th sticks in my mind for two reasons, the most important of which it is my son’e birthday because they were a bit short of staff the night he was born and I helped the midwife to deliver him. I sent him a congratulatory message when he was 56 years and 3 hours old. This date is normally in my diary when I would contemplate giving the grass the first cut of the season but this means re-commissioning the mower with freshly drawn highest quality petrol (a message I have learnt over the years, well charged with fuel stabiliser and of course oiled up for the season (or the first half of it), collected my newspaper and got off to see Meg and she was in a fairly tranquil mood but started to get more agitated as the day wore on. I hoped that lunch followed by a good long sleep would be a blessed release. So Meg enjoyed her pretty tasty lunch of spicy beef and roasted potatoes followed by a chocolate sponge. But the longed-for deep slumber after lunch which I have come to expect did not really happen and after a sort of twenty minute doze Meg started to get more and more fractious. A physiotherapist attending to other patients happened to be in the bay and Meg called out to her, whereupon she came over and I explained about Meg’s agitated periods during the day. She immediately went off and got Meg a tea and myself a coffee but was inclined to chat so I detailed our whole saga, explaining how Meg had been admitted and then declared medically fit a week ago and now, although we had the physio and the OT assessments we were stuck in a kind of limbo waiting for the ReAblement team to discover what resources were needed and how they were going to meet them. I explained that I had been looking after Meg for months and it was not at all problematic for me to do so again now that we had transport arrangements via commodes used as wheelchairs upstairs and downstairs and the real coup de grace which was a stairlift being fitted this morning. Although the fitting of the stairlift was scheduled for this afternoon they phoned up at 9.0 as I was leaving for the hospital and asking if they could come immediately which of course I had to decline. So a quick phone call to my son and daughter-in-law ensued and they graciously stepped into the breach to supervise the installation so that i could carry on in my journey to the hospital.

Then two events occurred in quick conjunction. An old lady even more frail than Meg was being discharged into the care of an ambulance crew who were having to get her via the Sarah Stedy (specialised transport equipment) onto a trolley to go into the ambulance. When the ambulance men asked if there was anybody at home, the old lady replied no but there was a keycode so that people could gain access to the house. The physio was an exceptionally ‘can do’ type of person and she said that the frustrations shared by the patients were as frustrating, if not more so, for the staff themselves and although she did not use these words, she expressed the view that she shared my pain. When I heard about the old lady being discharged, I turned to the physio and pointed out how ridiculous this situation was that someone evidently more frail than Meg was being discharged to an empty house whilst I could take Meg to a house fully equipped with mobility aids, stairlift and what have you. Then I asked her what would be the most adverse sequelae that would ensue if were were to take our own discharge. She informed me that she could probably go off and have a word with the Onward Care team (I think it is called) and explain that I did not really need any onward care in the short term because I had been providing care for months, had a well equipped house and could do anything that needed to be done myself. The physio shot off saying to of saying they would make a telephone call and also send a special message. Some minutes later, she emerged saying that she had a ‘new’ document and, in effect, the Onward care had agreed to a discharge without immediate care if I was happy to bridge the gap. Naturally, I said I would and I started to gather all of our various bags together, particularly the weighted blanket that we had used so much in the hospital. A doctor shot in, grabbled Meg’s notes and shot out again without so much as a glance in our direction.I now gained the impression that the ward sister was a bit put out by all of this as she might have thought that we were short circuiting the system. It will take some time to discharge her, she said because we have to get the medications. But I already have the medications with me that she has been on for months and which the hospital hasn’t changed, I protested. Then it was a case of ‘But you have to wait for transport’ at which point I pointed out that I had my own wheelchair with me in the back of the car and as I took Meg out for coffee every morning, I was quite capable of getting Meg back home. So we carted all of the possessions into the back of the car and I returned with the wheelchair, entered the ward and whisked Meg off to the waiting car. The whole of this venture started at about 3.0pm and I was leaving the hospital at about 4.45, getting home for 5.00pm. So I got Meg home and my son and daughter-in-law called round to show me how to use the newly installed star lift and I cannot believe how fortunate I may well have been with just a timely amount of insight and pressure at just the right time.