a new day…….part 1

Yesterday my father began his new life living in a nursing home. I can honestly say that the past three months have been very draining and very often depressing for the family. And very worrying for Emjay who is on the other side of the world and relying on us to keep her up to date. But anyway, as Emjay said last week – Dad really is an incredible old man isn’t he? And as for my mother, well when they were handing out the true grit she definitely recieved an extra share. Over the past few months I’ve often had to remind myself that she’s almost eighty years old.

So, lets start at the beginning.

At the beginning of May Dad had a fall.

Actually lets start at the very beginning.

Twenty eight years ago when my father was only 52 he suffered a massive stroke. He woke up through the night feeling unwell, stood up, then dropped to the ground. And it was a massive stroke, he spent over twelve months in hospital. Right from the start we’ve received pretty negative attitudes from doctors. Back then they said he wouldn’t survive a week, then a month, then a year but here he is about to celebrate his 80th birthday.

So after he had that long stretch in hosptal and kicked the doctors opinions out the door he came home and he’s been very independent ever since. We’ve never had to do anything for him. Considering he was operating with only one half of his body he has done a remarkable job. But over the years there have been falls and bruising and hip replacements and moments of depression. But in general he has handled everything that has been thrown at him with good humour, patience and great spirit.

So, the beginning of May, it was the 12th actually. He had a fall. He was getting from his go chair into bed and fell between them. Mum called the ambulance but when they came out dad said he didn’t need to go to hospital because he just hates being in hospital. And Mum wouldn’t make him go because he’s a grown up intelligent person who makes their own decisions and as she said, it has to be his decision. So the next day he said, I think I probably need to go to the hospital. So the ambo’s came back and took him to the most soul crushing, hope destroying hospital you never want to be in. In fact it was the original hospital he was first taken to 28 years ago. I would name and shame it but I don’t want to be thrown into a dark dungeon and never seen again.

As it turned out he had four broken ribs. But they didn’t diagnose that for four days, they shoved him in a bed and told him if he sat up straight it wouldn’t hurt as much. I was there one day when they served dinner and they kept telling him to sit up straight and he said he couldn’t because it hurt and they were not really interested. Eventually another doctor came on shift and he said they’d do a scan of his ribs because an xray doesn’t always show all the damage. So of course the scan showed four broken ribs. I’m sure he didn’t say – I told you so but I bet he felt like it. Not much you can do for broken ribs so it was just a matter of waiting for them to heal. But of course while he’s lying in a hospital bed for weeks on end he’s losing muscle strength which is a whole other problem.

So one day I went to visit him and while I was there the doctor in charge of geriatrics came in and after giving me the softest handshake I’ve ever had said this to Dad.

-So, Max, I really think you should consider the reality that you probably won’t be going home again.

And I was gobsmacked. I couldn’t believe that they just come in and tell a patient something like that. I was only there by pure chance. They didn’t ring us and arrange for a family member to be there with him when they broke that news. He would have been there all alone if I hadn’t of decided to go for a random visit. I had this moment when I thought, OMFG – I think I just became a grown up.

So we all sat there for a moment and I could tell I was adopting the tight lip face. Sometimes when I pull the tight lip face I think to myself, right now I am looking just like Emjay. I don’t even have to see myself doing it, I just know she does it too.

Anyway I think this doctor just thought we might roll over then and say – okay then, sign us up to a home. And I said – He’s only been here just over a week! How can you decide that after that short amount of time. And he said, well he’s not been moving around and there is a loss of muscle mass. And I said – HE HAS FOUR BROKEN RIBS! And he’s almost 80 years old of course he can’t move around. Why can’t we wait until the ribs have repaired and then see. And this doctor was just nodding his head, showing that he was being patient with these troublesome people who would just not agree to go away. So then I said – what about rehabilitation? Can’t he get rehab? And this doctor said to me – well, we don’t know if he is viable.


When I phoned Mum and told her that she said – so, what do they do with him – shoot him.

Viable should not be a word you use when you are talking about a person. Especially when it’s a person you have never met and know nothing about. I don’t blame that doctor who delivered the message, it’s faceless bureaucracy making these decisions.

So I said – please explain. And he said, well it would be hard work with the physiotherapist and it would be tiring and they didn’t want to hurt him and they had to decide if it was worth spending the effort on Dad that they could be spending on someone else who had a better chance of recovery. And I said – bring on the pain.  I looked at dad  and said – are you willing to go through the pain if it means you might go home? and he said – yes. I explained to this doctor that we didn’t expect dad to go to rehab and come out the other side a marathon runner. We just needed him to be able to get from his bed, to his chair then back to his bed.

So off the doctor went and spoke to the head doctor and he came in and said that okay, they would put in a report to the rehab people and they would come and assess Dad and decide if he was viable or not. And I really must thank that geriatric doctor here because a lot of their decision was based on his letter to them.  If he gives a negative report on a patient to them, they don’t even come.

But they came, and they assessed and I guess he was viable because they said he could move on to the rehab hospital.

We couldn’t wait to get out of this place. As I mentioned before it is the most soul destroying place you could ever never want to be in. Every morning they would get Dad out of bed and put him in a chair in the corner of the room then put him back into bed at night. I honestly think they thought that if they put him in a chair in the corner for long enough that he might just die and they wouldn’t have to deal with him. Well yeah fuck you hospital, you’re not the first place to try that and it didn’t work then either. Oh hang on, you were the first place to try that.

So that was about seven weeks spent at that hospital and we were ready to move onto rehab.

And thats enough for me from now. I’m still trying to process all this.

Honestly there is so much more about that place I could go on about. Staff, room mates, the car park escapades we had, the old man who shit hs pants in front of Kimba and I and then told Daz to fuck off when he tried to help him with his dinner tray. Oh, good times.

I haven’t mentioned any of this before because at the start it was just a fall, and he’s had plenty of them and I guess we didn’t realise it was going to go on for so long or become so serious and we thought he’d just rally back like he always has and go home. And then it seemed like it had gone on for so long that it was too late to mention it at all,  but now it seems like is I don’t mention it, it will be strange one day when I say – so I went to visit Dad in his nursing home today and you’ll all be like WTF, when did that happen. And I really really like all my vox and wordpress and blognow and whitepage (thats going back a while now) friends because I can tell you all anything because you all let me vent without interuppting or judging.

So yeah, stay tuned. Tomorrow we move on to the the rehab hospital.


22 thoughts on “a new day…….part 1

  1. I am so sorry for your Dad and your family. Having just gone through all this, I do understand. Too many medical staff to act as though old people have a use by date. I felt that when my Dad was ill. Mr FD’s father received excellent care however, and especially when he went into the home.

    Best wishes to all.

    • Thanks FD. I really think it will be a lot better now that he is in a home. At least he can have his own stuff in there with him and he can be more settled. In hospital everyone just seemed too busy for him. Rush rush. He has handled it all so wonderfully that he’s made it easy for everyone. Or maybe that makes it harder – that his mind is still 100% but his body has let him down. He just keeps rolling with the blows.

  2. I too wonder about why doctors treat the elderly as they do. My own case, or rather my late father’s case, he was battling prostrate cancer for a number of years and it had advancd almost to the point where there was nothing more that could be done.

    I remmeber learning the doctor ordered my father not to drive, which for him was a big thing for he liked to drive just for the pleasure of driving, not to mention the sense of freedom. My now late mother rolled over (she didn’t drive herslef) and my father never drove again. A big blow to him I am certain of.

    • It really annoyed me that the doctors make these decisions about people they know nothing about. They don’t see them as individuals. or take their individuality into account. They make their decisions after spending only a few hours with the person concerned. I felt like bringing my fathers memoirs into the hospital and making them read them so they could see that he was more than those few weeks that they’d known him for.

    • Thanks, I think we all feel sort of relieved at the moment. It’s been really tiring and I think we all just need to have a rest and come to terms with it all.

  3. Oh lord. I’m sorry you were going through all this. I thought you were unusually silent for awhile but assumed it was because of school.

    The geriatrics doctor probably thought, ‘Oh, the poor things are in denial’ and believed he was being utterly kind and patient with you all, when in fact it’s horribly patronizing. Too many doctors live in their own bubble, I think: they don’t know to talk to normal people anymore, let alone sick or injured normal people. I confess however that I wouldn’t know how to deliver bad news to a patient’s family, especially after dealing with my sister who thinks our parents are still in their 60s and are “okay.”

    Yeah, that Big Crisis that puts your parents in the hospital and nursing home does suddenly turn you into a grown up. I have to admit I didn’t really feel like an adult in the company of my parents until my father went in for surgery for colon cancer. I remember thinking, ‘Oh no, I am not ready for this, I thought I would be but deep inside I’m just six years old.’

    Anyway, hugs for you and Emjay. Your dad might not be saying this now, but I’ll bet deep inside he’s relieved too. Even tough old guys get tired of being tough.

    • I think he’s relieved, it was very tiring for him being in hospital. Always being handled by people and pushed and pulled around by the physio’s, being put in a hoist then a chair then showered by someone. He found that all very tiring. He’d be looking forward to a rest.

      The doctor he had at the rehab hospital was the saddest looking man I’ve ever seen. I always felt like telling him he should get a new job as it looked as if telling people bad news all the time was really depressing him.

  4. Well, at least I’m glad you finally got someone to listen and look at him as a person and not a “case.”

    Vent away. I have a distinct feeling that even if we were in the same room I’d never dream of trying to interrupt you, lol.

    • I’m hoping that now he’s in a home and out of a hospital that will be more of the case (haha). In the hospitals they are always so understaffed. Too many patients, not enough nurses.

  5. Unfortunately, ultra-liberalism that puts “efficiency” and not “ life’s value” at the top of all the criteria justifying any action, borrows its strategies to Nazism. This Doctor was a fascist! …
    In May, my so pretty and turbulent niece, died: She was just ten years old. When she become ill, in July 2010, we knew she was lost : brain stem tumor. However, all known treatments have been tried. If she had had 80 years, would be attempted to save her?
    Your note makes me cry a lot of tears … I’m sure your Daddy will continue to FIGHT for saving his life!
    I send you, for him, for your Mom, for Emjay and your all family, many and many loves.
    I stay tuned.

  6. oooh, that made me so angry! diverticulitis put me in a hospital for only 4 days, and it was a good hospital, and I was still nearly in tears from frustration and depression and loneliness. I don’t want to imagine weeks on end in a bad hospital. i’m so sorry for your father but so glad he has good family to fight for his best interest and see that he’s taken care of more properly!

    • It’s tough. These Hospitals just roll on and it’s easy to get trampled if you don’t or can’t step up. Even if you do it’s very hard to fight the system.

  7. I have goosebumps. The memories of just happening to be in a room with someone when these medicos wander in and make these pronouncements… it’s unbelievable. They are so jaded and cloistered and wrapped in their own perfection – the bastards.

    Happy nearly 80 to your dad and your mum and my mum. Just … arrrrrrrgh!

    • I’m just glad I was there when they broke that bit of cheery news to him. I couldn’t believe that they just came in and blurted that out without arranging for family to be there. As if the patient is just going to handle it and get on with their day. I must admit I had this very selfish moment when I thought I’m the youngest child, I shouldn’t be dealing with this – where is everyone else. I felt like putting my fingers in my ears and going – LALALALALALA

  8. Jane…. I’m so sorry for your families troubles. I am so mad at the hospital on your behalf. Places like that are ridiculous. I was sad reading your post, but you still made me laugh. I will pray for the best. I am sure your dad will be back on his feet in no time. He sounds strong and stubborn, like my Grandfather. 🙂 Best wishes.

    • Thanks Wendy – yep, it’s a harsh world out there and you definitely have to face it with a sense of humour. We always say that our father is a tough old bastard and that nothing will ever kill him but of course one day something will and we’ll all be gobsmacked!

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