Category Archives: history

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The Old Bat visits Rookwood hospital for an elderly care assessment.

Yesterday I went by ambulance to a different type of hospital. Rookwood is a place devoted to the care of the elderly. I am elderly and certainly need help to go on living independently. I looked forward to this assessment as I need help badly.

I was taken very gently from the ambulance to a small room where several machines waited  to test me. I was weighed, measured, told to stand up, sit down and do some memory tests. I was particularly interested in the last test as I felt that I had struggled lately remembering  a friends address. I was relieved when I scored full marks. The first person to appear was a physiotherapist, I am very fearful around such people as they all want me  to do exercises that are very painful.   Not this one. Having heard the truly dreadful cracking noises coming from my knees when standing up, he very quickly told me that exercise was out of the question. I was just to keep moving as much as I could without too much pain. This was a great relief,  I had left the surgical hospital with a whole programme of exercises that were painful in the extreme. I just could not do them/ What a relief.The next person to appear was the phlebotomist armed with many needles .I am not afraid of needles, but I know that most practitioners finds it difficult to find a vein. to get blood. Not this on one, she found a vein straight away and filled all the syringes. Next came nurse with the E.C.G. machine, and so it went on until they ran out of tests, and gave me chicken sandwiches, and a glass of milk.

I was most relieved at the result of the memory test, as losing my memory is one of my greatest fears. I will get the results of the other tests later, but I was also enlightened that the reason that I  have so much pain in my feet, when they are either too hot to too cold, is that I have Raynauds disease, lucky old me.

 

Monday March 11th

Another ambulance ride to the Dermatology dept of the local hospital. I have regular appointments looking for skin cancers caused by my life time farming  in all weathers. All seemed well today. Later on in the afternoon I had a phone call from my  Dr.She rang to tell me that she had the result of all those tests on Friday. My blood test showed up to be hugely high in potassium, probably due to my fondness of bananas, So more blood tests.

I would advise all elderly people to have as many health tests as possible.You might also be eating too many bananas or something else. Good luck.

 

 

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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.

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.

The Old Bat looks back at Christmases past and present

I am writing this the week before Christmas Day 2017.  This has prompted memories of Christmases gone by.

I was born in 1936 on a farm in West Wales. At that time we had no electricity – just oil lamps and candles.  So no Christmas lights.  My earliest memory is of a warm happy  home decorated with lots of berried holly branches stuck behind every picture frame and sprigs of mistletoe hanging over every door ready for all those kisses. We had a homegrown branch of a fir tree to go with our log fires. The branch was decorated with tinsel and coloured baubles. We were all raised as Christians, and I attended a convent school, so the religious aspect of Christmas was a constant background to our celebrations, but not dominant. At this time in West Wales, carol singers came to our doors on New Years Eve.

At four or five years old I definitely believed in Father Christmas, so my brother and I sent many messages up the chimney. On Christmas Eve we hung at the end of our beds the largest stockings we could find. As we waited, hoping to catch sight of him, we were sure that we could hear the reindeers coming nearer and nearer. We could  even hear  the tinkle of their bells. We never actually saw him, of course, but we were always pleased by the gifts we received in our stockings next morning. In those days presents were small, usually a toy for my brother and a small doll for me, also some chocolates or sweets and always a tangerine in the toe of the stocking.

Life on the farm was always busy, even on Christmas Day.  We had a large herd of cows to be milked, calves to feed, sheep to be seen and checked on. In the farm kitchen  a large Christmas dinner was being cooked: a very large goose reared on the farm, huge joints of home cured ham, also potatoes, carrots, parsnips and cabbage, all home produced. There was also a large homemade Christmas pudding. This feast was not just for the family but also for the cowman and the other workers who lived with us in the farmhouse.  We had  beer, home-brewed specially for the occasion. After dinner, it was back to work for the adults, while my brother and I played with our presents, more having been brought by friends and relatives. Note, that I describe the midday meal as ‘dinner,’ and  will call the evening meal ‘supper’.  Supper, eaten once all the outside work was finished,  consisted of all the leftover cold meats from dinner, with bubble and squeak made from the leftover vegetables and the wonderful gravy: my favourite meal.

The evening was spent listening to the battery powered radio, playing parlour games or, if we could persuade her, singing around the piano played by my Grandmother. We went to bed very tired and happy.

We spent many years having these innocent  Christmas days, but  this changed when our village had electricity, which brought with it television and advertising.  Christmas became commercial and it became difficult for our children not to want what they saw advertised.  I remember when my own children were about twelve, my mother asked them what they would like as a gift for Christmas. Seduced by the wonderful portrayal of a game on the television called Mouse Trap, they asked their Grandmother if she would get it for them. My mother searched the toy shops near and far until she found it. There was great excitement before opening the box on Christmas Day. What a disappointment, it was just a bit of moulded brightly coloured plastic which had been staged by the film on TV to look wonderful.  I was so disappointed for my mother. We all learned  a valuable lesson. As the years have gone by, Christmas has become more and more commercial, with advertising starting in September. This really upsets me, I worry about all those families who have to struggle with Christmas debt for the foreseeable future.

New Year’s Day

Enough of this moaning. I will tell you about the lovely things that have made this Christmas wonderful for me. Over the holiday I have seen all my children and most of my grand children with their lovely friends. I had phone calls and visits from friends who knew that I was stuck in my flat. Among many cards, I had a lovely hand made card addressed to ‘his lovely cousin’s Grandma.’ Another card came from an old friend of my daughter’s. We have not been in touch since they all left for university. During the last few years I have followed the lives of his young sons on Facebook. I did not think that he would recognise my present name, so I was delighted to receive a card designed by one of the boys. I also want to thank all the friends that I have made during the many years at work for giving me such thoughtful cards and gifts. I realise now that the heart of Christmas still lives, we all try to show our friends and relations how much we love and appreciate them.

I wish a happy and healthy 2018 to everyone.