Category Archives: Decision Time

The Old Bat has two visits to hospital

I had been looking forward.to this week for some time, because I had two appointments at the orthopaedic hospital where I hoped to get help. I knew that it was going to be a bit difficult because I can only walk with the aid of a frame. I cannot negotiate the steps leading  from my flat to the pavement,  Because of this, I have not left my flat for nearly two years. When I  have appointments, I have be taken by ambulance with its carrying chair. I have traveled this way many times picking up other patients on the way .All the ambulance men  and women are very kind and gentle.

The first appointment was on Tuesday morning. As usual, the ambulance collected me an hour after the appointment time, which is quite normal. As soon as I arrived I was taken to the X—ray Dept where my spine was X–rayed from every angle. This was quite painful because I cannot stand unaided.

I was then taken to see the surgeon who explained that the operation on my spine had healed perfectly. The injured vertebrae had been removed, its place taken by a metal scaffolding, all was well.The improvement in my back will take some time before I will feel  the benefit of it. The metal work has to become part of the back protecting the spinal chord. The second appointment was on Thursday. The same routine,I was whisked off to the X-Ray Dept, where I had many pictures taken of my knees and legs  .After this, I was taken to see the surgeon, who was very pleasant and kind, even though he gave me bad news. In his opinion, as a knee surgeon, my hips are in a worse condition than my knees. He explained that the hips affected the knees, so should be done first..I felt like bursting into tears, but didn’t. I know that there is a very very long wait for hip operations, about six months before you get on the waiting list to  see a surgeon let alone have an operation.This was bad news  for an eighty two year old.  The surgeon then injected my knee with some painkilling fluid he hoped would help. It had no effect the last time that I had something similar.Perhaps,  it has been improved. Apparently, I have to wait three weeks before finding out if it works or not, so I still live in hope of some improvements.

 

To complete the day, I vomited in the ambulance on the way home.Thank goodness, I had the sense to ask for a sick bowl, before this happened. I have never been a good traveler. It just seemed the perfect ending to a disappointing day.

I feel a lot better about everything today, I live very comfortably in my flat  where I am near good friends and family,.  All visit often, making sure that I am O.K. Many elderly  people are not so well treated.  Being house bound, I watch a lot of news programme on T.V. and am daily horrified to see how they have to live in poverty and squalor.

 

HEALTH ALERT

Apparently it is Breast Cancer Awareness Week so please take advantage of all the help you can get about looking after yourself. Start off by examining your own breasts, it might save your life.

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THE OLD BAT hates the non stop use of ‘Tablets and Smart Phones’.

I know that I am an old grumpy woman and  have strong views on a wide. array of subjects .The main object of my wrath at the moment is the non stop use of ‘smart phones’ and tablets. I always look forward to visits from my grandchildren when we share all the family news. This no longer happens because they come armed with their phones and tablets. The last visit was such that we did not have a conversation,  they just continued playing the game on their phones that they had started outside.. I did not like it so I was a bit grumpy.

When my Grandson came to stay for two weeks I worried about his overuse of his phone He never seemed to be off it, always talking to some one all day. Many nights he was still chatting away at midnight, even one o’clock. I could not see any evidence of homework being done.This very day, the four chief Medical Officers  of the Government discussed this problem on T.V ..Apparently , when playing these games, the drug dopamine is produced in the brain, as it is in gambling/, which is not to be encouraged in young brains.The Doctors recommended that the phones and tablets should be left outside the bedroom doors and that they should not be taken to the dining table. I heartily agree.The four Doctors are the four main ones in the Government who try to look after the nation health. I wonder how old little baby Frankie will be before she plays online.

Life is quiet at the moment. As many of my friends  are Chinese we had a lovely Chinese meal the evening of the start of Chinese New Year. This was not a ‘.takeaway’ type meal but a genuine home cooked one meal of ‘prawn dumplings Dim Sum,,prawns with snow peas and crayfish,  Ginger Tofu, Korean chicken, Baked Sea Bass and many others which I enjoyed very much. I avoided the red pepper spiced noodles. too hot for me. .We had a lovely evening listening to many of our old records now stored on a. gadget, every record that we wished for at the touch of a button  One good thing to come from the new technology. I had forgotten just how much I had loved some of them. ‘Only the Lonely’ by Roy Orbison for example.

Next week, I am going to see the surgeon about my knee. I hope that he is going to give me a date for the operation. I am getting fed up limping around with my ‘frame’.

I have many flowers on my camellia bush, so Spring is on it’s way. Best wishes to you all.

The Old Bat becomes a Great Grandmother

I Have not written for a while, I just could not get into the right mood, mainly because all my plans had gone wrong. I had expected to move into a different flat, one that was well suited to my situation. It had no steps at all, with a front door opening straight on to the pavement. This would have enabled me to get outside for the first time since January. Plans had been laid to move on my birthday, my family were coming down from Oxford to do the work.The day before the move I was told that the present tenant was not moving, even though he had given written notice to our joint landlord. The reason was because the house he was buying might have Japanese knot weed. I was devastated. When I recovered, I decided to make the best of it as my family were coming anyway and it was my birthday. I organized a party for the friends that have helped me during the last six months. It was going to be a ‘No trouble party’.Having asked around which ‘takeaways’ were the most popular I settled on an  Indian takeaway. As some of the guests had different dietary needs I chose dishes from a Vegetarian takeaway and others from an Indian takeaway that had meat dishes. A very good friend made a beautiful lemon drizzle cake for desert.

The party was a resounding success. The food arrived on time, it was hot, and  was pronounced of very good quality. I could not tell because Indian food is too spicy hot for me. The evening then became very lively as we all sang to music played by three of the guests, two playing guitars and one playing a balaphone, a West African instrument, We had a great time and as one guest remarked ‘not quite the party one would expect for an eighty two year old.’

Sept 8th.
I have not written for a while because I was so disappointed about the non move. It has been a beautiful summer and I have not been outside at all, so I have not seen my garden. However, yesterday while being carried to and fro from the ambulance on the way to a pre assessment appointment at the hospital, I saw my garden and its’s plants. On the whole I was disappointed because both the fuchsias and the hydrangeas had grown a lot of foliage but had not yet flowered, perhaps they will in the Autumn.

The visit to the hospital went well, a lot of paperwork, and a few tests which I passed well. All of my ailments are kept under control by various medications. As a result , I was given November30th as the date for the operation on my spine and told that I should be in hospital for between 5 and 10 days.It is good to have a defiant date.

My big news is the birth of my great grand child, Frankie, who weighed in at 6lb 13oz. She is very beautiful with straight back hair, with the look of both her parents. It is wonderful to have a baby in the family again.

November 11th.

I have got my mojo back again. I have settled back again in my flat where I am visited by my good friends often bringing food. One pair often bring their evening meal, with a portion for me so that we can eat together at my dining table. How kind and thoughtful.
Having had two very minor falls I came to the conclusion that I needed a bit of help. So with help of a care allowance from the Dept of Work and Pensions I have a very nice carer who helps me wash and get dressed two mornings a week.It is great that the same woman comes at a time to suit me, not too early.

I have had many letters and cards from friends that I met at work. Thank you very much, they really cheered me up.I can assure you all that I am not ill just badly disabled which is going to be made a bit better on Nov 30th.

The Old Bat has a M.R.I. scan on her back and emergency surgery on her stomach.

I am hoping to have a spinal operation soon, most readers know how  this came about so I will only give a brief summary. When I was in my teens,I used to train racehorses for my father. During this time I injured myself,  I am now in my eighties and the damage  has got a lot worse, I am unable to move without a lot of pain. An operation has been planned,  the surgeon is going to remove the piece of bone that is crushing my spinal chord. Until that time, I am in the hands of a band of people working for the NHS. In the past, I have heard so many grumbles about the NHS, that I feel that I must tell you how it is for me.

Up to Christmas time, I  worked  as a receptionist, I loved it because I met people who became friends. I had to leave because it became too difficult to leave my flat, too many steps between my front door and the pavement. I then made the decision to ask for a bit of help because I could not get in and out of my shower. This is when an army of helpers arrived.  The first to arrive was the practice nurse who came to take a blood sample, then a number of carers arrived . One came to help me wash myself properly.  I was able to wash everything except my back which she did for me. It was  then discovered that I had a small sore which had to be cured before I could have the operation, so another nurse arrived to put sterile dressings on that. This meant that nurses comes to look after it twice a week. When I asked the carer if she could put the cream that had been prescribed for my back, she said that she was not allowed to do it without permission.. Permission arrived, in the form of a piece of paper on Easter Sunday, in the evening.  I am truly grateful for all the help but feel that I am having a bit too much.

Years ago, in 2008, I made a living will which clearly states exactly what I want to happen if I am unable to speak for myself. I thought that I had covered every eventuality, so when a senior nurse came along with a lot of paper work, I was a bit annoyed. I had to answer many questions about my ‘End of Life’ care. I thought that I had more than covered that in the living will, I do know that there can be problems when things go wrong. All my treatments had to be covered legally again in detail, from the’Health and Safety’ point of view.. It was not a jolly couple of hours.

Yesterday I went for my M.R.I. scan at the hospital.  Because I cannot walk down to the pavement, I had to be taken by ambulance. The ambulance men came to the door with a carrying chair in which I sat until I transferred into the ambulance. It was great being driven along because I could see all the gardens springing into flower, masses of daffodils camellias and magnolias in full bloom. The scan went well, and I was taken home by ambulance three hours later. I found the waiting hard because I was stuck sitting in a very hard chair the whole time. On the way back I saw my own garden for the first time in months, it looks wrecked with many tubs filled with water, probably drowning my favourite fuchsias. The  day had gone well, the ambulance men were friendly, the radiographers efficient,  the scan was completely  pain free, the nurses kind, however, I felt completely exhausted. Today, I am still feeling the effects of yesterdays adventures, I am very glad that the scan is over, it is quite difficult to remain completely still for 15 minutes, locked in a noisy metal tube. I am  lucky that I am not not claustrophobic, and that I was given ear plugs to help with the noise. For any patient that cannot cope, there is piece of sponge that they can squeeze to stop the whole process. There is nothing to worry about, you just have to relax, there is no pain at all.

The Old Bat is rushed into hospital..

One week later. April 15th,  shock ,horror, I was taken ill during the night with non stop vomiting.The ‘out of hours service’ sent an ambulance and I was whisked off to hospital. I cannot remember what happened next. I have lost a whole week.  All I can recall is having vividly coloured morphine dreams in which I starred, and had a wonderful time. I eventually came back to the land of reality in the high dependancy unit having had serious  surgery on my stomach. I was connected to many ‘drips’ and such. For the next week I had ‘nothing by mouth’.

I was very curious to know what had happened. I knew that I was going to have a back operation, hence the MRI scan, but I did not expect  major surgery on my stomach. It turned out that the problem was nothing to do with my back but had everything to do with an operation that I had fifty years ago for diverticulitis. Apparently a small bit of tissue that had been left behind had grown and grown until a cobweb of tissue had completely blocked the small bowel.  The surgeon had been very clever and had cut out the blocked part and had sewn it all back together again.

I remained. in hospital for 16 days. I have to say that the nursing care  was wonderful.The young staff nurses who  ran the ward were amazing, In fact all the staff were both efficient, caring and overworked. Many thanks to staff nurses, Becky, Fred, Lauren and Hazel, who arrived at 7.30 am in their running shoes, every hair in place, and left at 7.30pm  completely exhausted  and dishevelled.  Many days they had not even  had  time for a lunch break. Nurses, Charlotte and Mark were outstanding.

I am now home again waiting for a date in June for the back operation. I have recovered quickly from the stay in hospital and I am quite happy to be managing at home with the help of carers.

May 19th

I received a letter this morning from Mr Chopra’s secretary, informing me that I have a pre-admission examination and assessment on Tuesday June 26th..I was very pleased to receive this long awaited appointment but disappointed to have to wait another 5 weeks. I just have to have bit more patience. I am helped in this by my extremely good friends and family who visit me regularly. Except for my 16 days in hospital, and my trip for the MRI scan, I have not left my 2 roomed flat since Christmas. Thank goodness for the TV and books .However today, I am determined to get outside with the help of a  friend and a four wheeled ‘walker’, I want to see my garden and feel the sun once again.

June 6th.

I have just been to see another flat, which is just five doors away, but has entrances straight off the streets, no steps at all. My very good friends pushed me in a fold up wheel chair, It was hilarious, it took three strong people to get me there. The flat is very nice. It has two bedrooms, a cosy living room, an adequate kitchen,. and a nice little garden which faces south. I am going to take it as I will be able to get out and about again and not feel like a prisoner. My children and friends will be able to drive up to the gate and I will be able to step into their cars.  I hope to move in  two weeks time. It will be a new start which I will tell you all about.

Many thanks for all your good wishes, many beautiful cards delivered to my hospital bed.

 

 

 

 

 

Decision Time for one Old Bat.

It is very difficult for some people to admit that they are getting old and need help. I admit that I am one of them. I have lived on my own for sixteen years and so far, I have managed reasonably well, but not now. In previous blogs I have written about the injuries I sustained as a young woman when I helped train race horses  for my father, who was an international horseman. These injuries have now got to the stage that I cannot walk very far, and I certainly cannot cope with steps. Living in a ground floor flat is good, but unfortunately the front door is eight steps up from the pavement, so it is getting more and more painful  to leave the building.  In fact, I have not left the flat for nearly three weeks, so I have to make a decision about my future.

It is not an easy decision. If I move I will not be able to see my wonderful doctor. I learned this morning that boundaries have been moved and I am not actually in the area served by my surgery. I was only allowed to stay here because I had been with them before the  change to the boundaries.

During the time that I have lived in my flat, I have made  many good friends and I am extremely reluctant to move away from them. They all make sure that I am not lonely. Loneliness is the scourge of old age,  and the company of really good friends makes life worth living.

Yesterday, I had a visit from a representative from Disability Wales, an organisation that helps people stay in their homes. Unfortunately, they could not help me.  The suggestion of replacing the outside steps with a ramp instead of the steps is not possible, because the gradient is too high and the distance  too long. A big disappointment, as I thought that this was the answer to my problem.

Days later

In the mean time, I have been in touch with the Housing Dept in order to put my name down on the waiting list for ‘sheltered’ accommodation’. It is almost impossible to get a flat in this district but I have to be on the list to be considered in the future. I am also going to get in touch with the local estate agents to see if they have a suitable flat.

The estate agents say that there are no suitable flats available.

Many days later

I was woken up this morning by a telephone call from the Surgical Unit at the hospital, offering me an appointment with the Spinal Surgeon next Tuesday morning at 7.30. They had a cancellation so I was very pleased to say that I would gladly take it. Such good news, I will let you all know how I get on. I am not expecting miracles, but a little less pain would be wonderful.

Tuesday January 30th

This morning, I had an appointment with Mr Chopra, the surgeon at Llandhough Hospital, to discuss my pain problem. Mr Chopra explained that as I had not had any relief from the spinal injections, the only step left was to have surgery. He put the MRI scan picture on his screen, and explained to me that it showed my spinal cord being  crushed by the bone of a damaged vertebra. The only hope of pain relief was to remove the bone, and replace it with metal and screws. This would mean quite a stay in hospital. There was no 100 per cent guarantee that this would work. If I did not have the operation my condition would continue to deteriorate until I would not be able to walk at all. He told me that after another MRI scan, he would operate in April.

Now, I can postpone all decisions until after the operation, and recovery time.  When, with a big bit of luck, I will be able to walk and navigate stairs. This will  enable me to remain in my present flat and on my doctor’s list. This is all thanks to our wonderful National Health Service, which is free. If things do not go to plan, I will have to face up to the situation of having to be looked after by professionals, and make arrangements accordingly.