A month has passed since I last posted, and so much has happened.
Reading back through my Journal, I can see how pessimistic I have been about mum. Yet last weekend, we moved her into Selwyn Village's Sarah Selwyn Hospital. She has her own, very nice, room with en suite bathroom, a big picture window that looks out onto a cobbled courtyard, retaining wall and raised garden. The room has an electric hospital bed with high quality medical-grade mattress. Working on changing that to a KCI product, lol!
Since I last posted, I've taken two weeks stress leave. In the first fortnight after Mum's strokes and heart attack, I had spent over 40 working hours at the hospital, and around 35 working hours actually at work, getting a full days work done each day, plus doing school work, and ordinary mum stuff.
Monday 24/Tuesday 25 May
Sue on 2 weeks stress leave, David on RDO's: We both went in to visit mum on the Monday/Tuesday. It had been a week since David had seen her, so he could see the definite improvements that had accumulated, which I was too close to see. Both days she was bright and alert, and reasonably coherent. The words still get lost between brain and mouth, but she's getting more articulate. She wanted to catch up with Annie Whetton, so I asked Dad/Bill/Grandpa to contact them. They are still using a big 'cargo' hoist to move her from bed to chair.
We spoke to the Consultant Doctor, who was talking about what would happen when Brenda leaves hospital. Essentially the amount of exercise and effort she puts in at this point in time determines the range of movement and quality of life post-hospital. If she doesn't practice sitting, hand manipulation, swallowing and transfers (putting the weight on her good side), she will have to rely more on others to meet her needs.
The physio and therapist teams are currently working on getting mum to sit for lengthy periods - about 7 hours today. This strengthens back muscles, helps with breathing, and to keep herself upright, and swallowing. Both the speech therapist and consultant are happy with the progress in her speech. She can maintain conversations, get most words out, and it is only when she is tired that she starts slurring and getting muddled. Her upper dentures have "disappeared" - we suspect thrown in the rubbish by accident - so this has made it a little harder for her both to eat and be understood.
When she is being moved from bed to wheelchair to ordinary seat, she has been upgraded from a 2 person cargo-hoist arrangement, where they put a body sling around her and use an electric motored overhead hoist to lift her up; to one where they put a wide band low around her waist, and pull her up and forward into it. They can then lift her to a standing position.
She spent an hour in the gym today, practicing sitting and transfers. Was quite tired when I got there to see her. She said she wasn't feeling hungry, and didn't want any lunch, but when I produced homemade scrambled eggs n cheese + mashed pawpaw, she wolfed them down, asking for more. The hospital food is pretty disgusting/bland and just not like home.
The lady in the bed next door says she behaves quite differently when we aren't there, to when we are. ie - much more bolshie when we're not around! She has been a bit teary today and the nurse suspects she may be suffering from depression. She was saying to me (sue) that it just wasn't fair, not meant to happen like this etc. Having Ah-Poo to cuddle does seem to have helped. She also desperately wants to catch up with her friend Anne Whetton, who is dying of cancer. I will talk to Bill about getting in touch, and seeing what we can arrange.
David noticed a big improvement seeing her a week apart, and was pleasantly surprised that her wicked sense of humour was in evidence, and that she could talk about and was hungry for news.
Chaos day. Bill hadn't remembered to contact the Whetton's, and the number in their phone list was out of date. When I got through to the Retirement Village where they were living, there was only an answerphone. Fortunately, someone picked up the message straight away, and rang me back. They told me Annie had died at the beginning of the week, and her funeral was RIGHT NOW at St Andrews Church. We made it to the church by 1130, I got to put a sprig of lavender on Anne's coffin for mum, and to say goodbye on her behalf. Dad and I also got to the reception afterwards. Annie had actually died on the Friday of the previous week, and the Whetton's had left half a dozen messages on Dad's answerphone, which he had deleted. Grrrrr. I went to visit mum in the afternoon, and took in a copy of the Order of Service (whatever it's called), that had a lovely photo on the front. As usual, mum greeted me with tears - because she's pleased to see me, not because she's upset. I told her that her best friend was dead, and that I'd said goodbye on her behalf. We had a good cry and a cuddle, and she spent the next couple of days grieving for her.
Mum doing well this morning - feeding herself. We had a good long talk. Got told by a couple of the other ladies in the ward that I'm a good daughter - then the grumpy one said I should show more respect - I said "Good Dog" to mum when she ate her food, to which mum laughed.
Took in a pile of clean clothes for mum. Arrived to find three old ladies sleeping peacefully - quite a lovely sight.
Took Tyler in to visit mum - she was asleep when we arrived, so took him for a gallop around the domain, then brought him back to the hospital where mum was waiting outside the building - Bill had brought her down from the ward in her wheelchair. Was thrilled to see Tyler, and to be outside.
Tuesday 1 June
Took mum down to the coffee shop - got her a small flat white - she really enjoyed the outing. We're much more mobile now with the wheelchair. We're using a smaller, liftup hoist to move her now.
Meeting with Pip Cotching, the social worker. They think mum will be ready to move out of hospital in the next fortnight or so. Dad has already decided on Selwyn Village in Pt Chev http://www.selwyncare.org.nz/?t=158 Mum cried a bit, more about the dogs than anything else. She realises she needs hospital level care at the moment, and that she can't go home. Interview took about an hour, while we discussed all the ins and outs, including finance. Still waiting for dad to send the info to his lawyers (as of today, Monday), to see if they're eligible for a subsidy. Hopefully we'll find out more later. We have 90 days from when she moves into a resthome to settle the payment details.
Mum was asleep when I got there, smelled of stale perspiration and urine. Went downstairs and bought some deodorant for her. Got her into clean dry clothes as well.
Spoke to both mum and dad. She's keen to visit Selwyn. Spoke to doctors, nurses, physio, social worker, uncle tom cobbley and all! Everyone is happy for mum to have an outing. Booked a mobility taxi for Saturday morning.
Crash and burn. Mobility taxi NOT booked - hadn't been written down. They said they could send another one, but after half an hour had to give up, because mum was getting too tired. Bill was very frustrating. He had forgotten everything we'd discussed about this outing. His gammy leg was playing up so he had a rest in the hospital 'departure lounge' while we took her for a walk through the domain and wintergardens instead, all bundled up in a big jacket, blankets and hat. She was laughing and joking, calling out "I'm free! I'm free!" She had a terrific time.
Monday 7 (today!)
Hospital in the pm - Bill already there. Asked mum if she'd like a coffee - Bill said they'd just had a cup of tea. Mum said YES! I'd raided her clothing drawers at home again, and found some Samoyed clothing - that, and my appearance, gave her a good cry. Another good outing for her, sitting outside the Muffin Break. Then we took a turn around the 13th floor, having a nosey.
All in all, we think she's doing a lot better than we could possibly have imagined this time 4 weeks ago. She can hold a conversation, enjoy and make jokes, give as good as she gets. She is daily getting stronger, and now can be moved either using a strap around her waist, or just by helping/picking her up and turning her - as we did today to get her from bed to wheelchair. She knows she can't go home, that she needs hospital level care, at least for the meantime, and as long as we can sort out regular doggie visits, she's ok about going into a private hospital. She's much happier about life in general, getting bored being in the hospital, and seeking more stimulation.
On Wednesday morning, which was when the Admissions lady at Selwyn Village was due to return to work, I rang her to make sure that Mum had been put on the waiting list for a bed in either Christ's Hospital (the older building with shared bathrooms) or Sarah Selwyn Hospital (new building, new, single rooms with en-suite bathrooms). She advised that a couple of beds were now available at the new hospital (33 person waiting list!), (ie, a couple of clients had popped their clogs over the long weekend), and she would put her name down on the list, but mightn't be able to hold it for as long as two weeks. (The time frame I'd been given for mum's release).
When I got to the hospital at midday to visit Mum, the Social Worker, Pip, announced that mum was ready to be discharged, and go to a private hospital. We could either do it Monday next week, or on Friday - ie, tomorrow! Oooh, says I - um - how about Friday, because then I have the weekend to get her settled in, and move in furniture etc. If we did it on Monday, I'd have to juggle work again, and I've run out of leave. Mum and I filled in all the necessary forms for a Needs Assessment to apply for a subsidy for the hospital care - high level care is required. She was excited and teary at the same time. Looking forward to leaving, having her own room, with her own stuff, getting a good nights' sleep; but afraid of something new. I got the ward administrator to organise a mobility taxi for us, so we could visit the hospital and check it over, before moving day.
THURSDAY: Rang Selwyn Village, just to let them know we were coming to visit. Room 41 in Sarah Selwyn Hospital will be hers. Mobility taxi arrived early, excellent service, and a nice drive to the retirement village. Walked in the door. Mum pointed at a basket with blankets just inside the foyer: "Where's the moggy?" They have a cat there! Happy Happy. It was off on patrol, but comes in regularly for food and cuddles. Welcomed by the receptionist, who remembered me ringing, the manager, and a nurse, who was deputised to show us around. It felt very much like a 'home' and not just an institution. Everybody was friendly and greeted us with smiles. The room wasn't ready yet, but was clean, tidy, and smelt nice - not hospitally. Separate ensuite with shower, toilet and vanity, single hospital bed with good quality medical mattress. Huge picture window with louvre windows either side, looking out onto a cobbled patio, retaining wall with plants hanging off it, and sunlight coming into the room. Filled in some more forms, then went down to a small lounge, where mum got a cup of tea. The hospital physio found us there. She'd just spoken to Auckland Hospital's physio, and been told by reception that "Mrs Cottle is here right now!"
Mum was exhausted by the end of the trip, and we tucked her into bed to sleep when we got back.
Tuesday 15 June
Well, she’s been in the hospital most of 4 days now. I’m hoping she was just tired, but she grizzled about the other residents, some of her clothes were missing, there’s too much noise (about 4 different TV channels going, radios, people talking), doesn’t like the food.
The ward nurse in charge on weekdays took me down to the ‘laundry’ room, which is where the stuff that has been washed is returned to. Oh heck – we have to label everything with her name. Ordered labels for both her and Becca on-line from Aussie.
Now you’re up to date with Sue’s news! Hopefully, life will slow down a little now.