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.