Okay, technically it’s closer to two weeks.
A couple of hours after I posted my review of Lust After Death on the 16th January, I found my mother unconscious in bed breathing vomit into her lungs.
Kidney failure from a severe UTI, septicaemia, and aspiration pneumonia. I was devastated.
I thought I’d killed her.
I’d missed the warning signs because I was tired, treated her symptoms with medication not knowing that her kidneys couldn’t process it, and then left her for 12 hours believing she was sleeping.
Upon waking in Accident & Emergency, she mouthed “Are you alright?” to me, realised she wasn’t at home, smiled at the nice doctors and nurses attending her, until their backs were turned when she whispered to me, “Right, let’s go!” while trying to get out of her hospital bed. My arms ached after holding her down for hours. She lacked the capacity to understand what was going on, instead focusing on the agoraphobia so deeply engrained in her psyche telling her she wasn’t safe in unfamiliar territory.
For those that don’t know, UTIs, or Urinary Tract Infections, can cause ‘confusion’. Textbooks and health institutions should go into more detail because ‘confusion’ is vastly inaccurate compared to what I observed. Paranoid schizophrenic behaviours such as being aggressive and rude to staff surrounding the following themes: “the nurses aren’t who they say they are”, “their cameras are watching me”, “there’s poison in the food/medication”, “they’re hurting the patients”, etc. And dementia-like confusion such as being unable to recognise anyone or understand and answer questions, with periods of mutism – one of the doctors actually diagnosed her with early onset dementia, and another with Multiple Sclerosis.
All of this resulted in refusal of food and treatment, and an inability to sleep.
Last Thursday was the worst. I had to ask for them to enact the Mental Capacity Act because she was incapable of making decisions regarding her medical treatment as she was completely mentally absent, although still able to have some fun. The nurses were obliged to report an incident to me which took place on Thursday night. Incompetent night staff had called the police on my mother because they believed she’d stolen someone’s phone. She was sat by another patient’s bed holding a paper to her chest. The elderly female patient next to mum’s bed was being nosey, interfered and made it worse. Police pried the paper away from Mum and found nothing. Mum smiled throughout. She had no idea what was going on and obviously remembered nothing.
Thankfully, I finally managed to successfully get her to take consecutive doses of antibiotics and eat some food.
On Friday, she recognised me enough to be anxious that I might not be there, repeating “Where’s Amy?” constantly, even when I was sitting next to her bed. For some reason she thought I was in America. Anyway, this warranted an invitation into the operating theatre to witness the second attempt at a lumbar puncture but with a little sedation.
Saturday she was screaming and crying in pain from the procedure and her arthritis – they’d stopped all her usual meds to give her kidneys a break, so finally feeling pain was a good sign.
On Sunday, my lovely half-sister sister came up to visit to give me some support and provide a much needed distraction. Well, distract me, she did. I left my bag in the back of a taxi with my credit cards, photo ID, Nexus 7 and Kindle inside. I was THIS close to meltdown. Seeing panic on my sister’s face, I didn’t let the tears fall. We returned to the taxi rank and waited an hour for the distinctive red taxi to return. I did a bit of praying (I’m not religious), “I won’t fall apart, Universe, if you give me back my bag.” It worked! I got it back mere seconds later, untouched with everything still in it.
Later, at the hospital, I was met with “If I don’t jump up on down on my bed, the patients won’t get better!” – OCD, another good sign. It gave me hope she was getting better, even if she was still saying she’d died twice, I’d died once and she was hopping between dimensions like on Stargate SG-1.
Monday was heaven. My mummy was back. I was so relieved and happy. And 24 hours of being stable meant she could be discharged yesterday. But for some reason it took 5 hours to process her medication. Boredom ensued but we were home by dinner time, with my mother hobbling along – exhausted, weak, and unsteady on her feet.
In the end, my mother’s various tests showed pancreatic damage, acute kidney injury, two or three spots in her brain from mini-strokes (probably from Hell Week 2008 which involved amnesia), and some white matter brain damage which may or may not be due to ageing – Mum’s 54.
From her perspective, she’d endured weird, frightening and vivid dreams but remembers nothing that happened in real life during the whole of January. She’s having to adjust to losing that much time and leaving hospital more anaemic than when she went in due those
vampires doctors requiring daily blood tests (and even though she stopped eating for a few days, the food wasn’t the most nutritious).
For me, this was an exhausting two weeks, punctuated by migraines, my central heating breaking down, and phone calls from the hospital acting as my alarm clock. I had the best night’s sleep last night – no worries.
While I’m inseparable from my mother, I’ll be catching up on everything online over the next few days, and tackling an intimidating email mountain.
Just as I was about to publish this post, the phone rang. The lumbar puncture showed encephalitis (brain inflammation) and we had to go back to the hospital.
Over 4 hours we waited for a bed, only to see the doctor who told us she shouldn’t have been called in because my mother was obviously well enough to be discharged yesterday. They did a chest X-ray and a blood test – both clean. We actually fled the hospital instead of waiting for discharge this time because we couldn’t wait any longer, and my mother was desperate to lie down.
Now you know why I haven’t been around lately. I’m sorry if you’ve contacted me during this time and I’ve not responded.
But for now, I’m going to bed.