Sunday, December 14, 2008

Family Matters

The occupants of the highrise are somewhat stressed at the moment. It has been a frantic couple of weeks. I know my blog posts have barely reached their usual low quality.

Step father now has tubes to drain his bile into plastic bags as three attempts at stents had not worked. He had been home with a nurse visiting daily. Last Sunday he had a visit from his four sons from down the west district. He was cheered by their visit, but tired and fell asleep in his chair while mother took her late afternoon nap. Mother heard a crash and step father had gotten out of his chair, fallen and his head hit the fireplace hearth. Mother called 000 and an ambulance arrived promptly and carted him off to an older large far eastern suburb public hospital. They scanned his head and found an intact brain. They did not xray where he had directly fallen, onto his shoulder. Maybe they did not know.

No doubt he wanted to go home and the hospital agreed. A friend picked him up but he was so weak, he could barely get up the two steps at his front door. The friend managed to get him to his chair. Later he wanted to go to the toilet but in spite of Mother trying to lift him up, he could not get out of the chair. He said, 'Bugger it, I will crawl'. He tried but collapsed face down on the floor in severe pain. 000 again and this time Mother insisted that he be taken to the closer and fairly new public hospital where she spent some time earlier this year when her blood pressure was out of control. The para said that she would try and if they departed straight away, they were headed for the closer hospital, if they came back in, it was to delay things in the hope that they could avoid the hospital they had been told to take him too and get him to the preferred one. As he was loaded into the ambulance, he was screaming in pain.

Things went uphill from there fortunately. It became clear that he could not go home. Mother is not up to caring for him. He must have realised this himself and is now relaxed in the care of the hospital and when we saw him today, he was looking better than we have seen him for ages and with a better aura. An xray showed that he had a shoulder break. His arm was put in a sling and a bed found for him, the precise same bed that my mother had earlier in the year. His hospital care has gone from pretty ordinary in the old one to excellent in this present one. Both are just public hospitals, but very different. I guess you medically experienced types can work out what is an old hospital half an hour from Pakenham and a new one 15 minutes from Pakenham.

Early in the week, the Bone Doctor made some calls and smoothed some things out. Her advice was a family/hospital conference. I was doubtful of the benefit, but the long and short is that it was a good idea, I think. Bone Doctor organised it. She is a treasure and has been most helpful.

I am under some criticism by R for not attending but I felt it was not necassary for me to take time off work to be there. R left work early to look after Little Jo while Sister and the Bone Doctor attended. Others attending were sis in law and her two daughters, 19 and 16 (a mistake to take the younger one in my opinion, but she wanted to go. She and her sister only buried their other grandfather a couple of months ago and went through my father's illness and death a few years ago), one of Step Father's daughters from down west, Mother, Oncologist, Doctor and Charge nurse at Palliative Care unit. Even after looking after Little Jo, R went off to the building's christmas get together, the biggest yet. It become more sucessful each year.

At the meeting Mother was in tears, as were Sister, Sis in Law and two of her daughters. What? You think this was going to be a good outcome?

Palliative care was decided, against Mother's opinion. She wants his to stay in hospital where he has company and interaction with people, rather than a room on his own. Fortunately a palliative care room was not immediately available.

He had been started on morphine, but I think that has been stopped and he is only on one medication, I believe just a relaxing drug. After a few days of hospital without too many worries and relaxing into an extended hospital stay without fighting to go home, he is looking better than he has looked for a long time, and joking and telling stories like he used to, and ready to sack his dietician for the soft food he has been told he must eat.

Mother who would never stay at home alone at night seems to have adjusted and now can be alone, in fact is annoyed by the constant phone calls and visits by friends to check on her. She had not had a proper meal for a week and last night opened one of the non supermarket prepared meals that Sister had bought for her. It affected her system and she is blaming the food. I think, no, I know, it is just the shock of a proper and full meal. Regardless, she has decided on supermarket pre packaged now and gave me one of these meals remaining home meals to take home. Yum, I love free food, a roast no less. R can't believe how well she is coping. I can. It is all still about her. Good signs were that she asked me to show her how to reset the power surge switch. I checked that she has a working torch. I opened for her, tricky for me even, a bottle of Phenyle bin cleaner and pointed out that she should use the jar/bottle opening tool for all other jars etc. I fixed her roll of Glad Wrap, Sarin I think, if you are reading Daisy, that she had gotten in a terrible mess.

Tradie brother attends to Mother's house regularly and maintains the lawns. Brain damaged Acquired brain injury brother (ABI) does the daily shopping. Sister takes her out once or twice a week and the oldest brother, moi, will take her out one day this week to relieve pressure from Sister. Otherwise, older brother in the highrise de-stresses by writing a blog post and knows at some point he will have to step up to crease and stop pretending that he is older brother who knows everything and will take charge when the time comes. It is going to be a long hard road with Mother over the next year while we both help her and help her to manage on her own, although nothing like Jahteh experience.......yet.

R is pretty stressed about the above, buying a new car, feeding the family on christmas day, work, but in just two hours in the city this morning, we pretty well ticked off christmas presents. He vaguely thanked me for my quick and spontaneous choices. I did not mention that I had given a lot of thought to the matter and with some given information, steered things well.

All sad and depressing,? Nope. We had a good laugh with Step Father, who does not actually know what palliative care means. Mother is always entertaining and amusing. I passed a hospital cleaner who had a face like a busted arsehole and smiled at her and she returned with a grin and I admired the alstramerias (I know, it is wrong) fellow bed occupant at the hostpital and we had a nice chat. As such an anti social person, I amaze myself at how well I do at it.

That only took 90 minutes to write, but I do feel better now.


  1. All part of the rich tapestry of life, but hard for you all nevertheless. How unusual that all the family are working together. It's usually left up to a sole female child.

  2. Thank Goodeness for the Bone Doctor. She would be used to the planning of family meetings. I am glad of the people who did attend, at least they semed to be easy to reason with. Sometimes, family meetings are disastrous, and the relatives of patients referred to palliative care just do not "get it" when there is no other option.
    I am so glad your Christmas shopping os over, it is such a relief isn't it? I have made food of my buying on Ebay this year, avoided the shops mostly.
    Off to work today, listening to 3AW, I am thinking of turning it off actually, a bit sick of hearing about the 15 year old who was shot. Such a one sided arguement on 3AW's point of view.

  3. Now, I know all this is all very stressful but don't you go buggering off to Kmart to nick some sawn off semi-automatic nutmeg graters and make threats against the bois in blue.

    (You know that there's no cuisine in which capsicum and nutmeg go together well.)

    Ah, families! Rich tapestries, scorched hearth rugs and frayed candlewick bedspreads.

    You gotta both love and hate 'em.

  4. Palliative care is good and he will need it sooner than your Mum thinks.

    Be prepared for the inevitable battle with your Mum when she starts going downhill. The bone doctor would know this, watch for the signs of urinary tract infection when she reduces her water intake and cops too much salt in those supermarket meals.

    My mother blamed me today for not feeling well. She said it was the new flyspray I bought. Wrong! I bought airwick which she's been using on the flies and she doesn't need to because I put fly flowers on all the windows to keep chemicals away from her.

  5. Try and take your mum out/home for meals so she doesn't get so much of the processed, salt-laden supermarket meals.
    Sorry to hear your step-father is in hospital but it's a good one and the staff are great. He's where he needs to be, for his own sake as well as your mum's.

  6. You have pretty well hit the nail on the head Bliss. Sister is doing more than her share, but then she isn't working either.

    Cazzie, the Bone Doctor has been very helpful. I am still not sure it was a good idea, but at least everyone knows how things stand. And stop listening to AW and switch to ABC Melbourne. :-P

  7. No danger of me doing that LS. I am pleased that I have connected much better with my family over the last few years. Friends sometimes come and go, family don't, well not in my case.

    Nice smelling but very alive flies Jahteh. Mother drinks plenty of water and of late has been looking after herself pretty well really.

  8. Jayne, from what I have seen, the staff are good. I don't know much about the supermarket meals, but I shall mention about the salt content. I can only cope with Mother for so long.

  9. can relate totally, you are lucky that you have siblings to deal with this as well, it's me by my self at the moment and I don't even have the time to blog it. best wishes for Xmas


  10. Thanks Ann. You are sweet. While I don't envy you, it can in some ways be harder when so many opinions have to be taken on board.

  11. I love SaranWrap, but sadly my market doesn't seem to carry it any longer. GladWrap is rubbish.

    I must remember to use that line "face like a busted arsehole" in the describes so many people I encounter.

  12. We don't have SaranWrap here Daisy. Glad Wrap is the best we get and the market leader and the dearest.