Category Archives: loneliness

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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.

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.

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.

A cry for help for the lonely

Today is Sunday, the day that I go by taxi to see my friend Phylis.  Phylis, who lives on her own in the house where she was born, is disabled and completely dependant on other people. She has ‘carers’ who come in four times a day to wash and feed her. She has no family or relatives.

I first met Phylis through the RVS, when in desperation, she rang them to ask if they had any volunteers who did house visits. I was  glad to reply, as I live on my own and know only too well what it is like to be lonely, even though I have family and friends nearby. In order to visit her, I had to have a police check to see that I was a suitable person. This would not have been necessary if my passport had not lapsed.  Now back to finding some friends for Phylis.

I made my first visit to Phylis on a Sunday afternoon. I had found that this is the loneliest part of the weekend. On arrival, I saw a woman completely ‘chair bound’. She was spending all her days sitting in one of those extending armchairs.  She could not move out of it, nor stand up or walk. To go to bed she had to be hoisted from the chair to her bed.  Phylis had not been out of the room she lived in, let alone the house, for five years except for emergency trips to the hospital. In the four years that we have been friends I have never heard her grumble or complain about her situation. Unfortunately, she is terribly lonely and craves company.  At first I thought that she was being unreasonable because she was seeing two ‘carers’ four times a day. I soon changed my mind when I saw that they spent very little time with her. Just enough time for ablutions, making a sandwich, or putting a microwave meal in the oven. No time to chat before they have to rush off to the next client. I timed one visit, it took ten minutes. It is not the fault of the ‘carers’, they have so many clients on their list that there is just not enough time. I am sure that they would love to be able to stay and chat if they could.

Phylis spends her time knitting squares for blankets, watching nature programmes and listening to music. She is an intelligent, well read woman. She played the piano, her parents having been musical: her mother played the ‘cello and her father conducted a choir. At one time, she worked at the Welsh Office until she had to take early retirement to look after an invalid mother. For the last four years, I have been trying to find ways of getting Phylis out of that one room where she spends all her time, waking or sleeping. It has taken a long time to get a working plan in place.

At the present time, with the help of her social worker, ‘carers’ and a friendly taxi firm, we can now send Phylis, in her wheelchair, to a luncheon club run by the church every Monday. This is a huge step forward. We cannot do it too often because it takes a lot of people to achieve this: two ‘carers’ to load her, sitting in the wheel chair, into a special taxi; another, to stay with her at the club, then two more ‘carers’ to unload her at home again. It is quite an undertaking but worth all the trouble. Phylis really enjoys the experience, and would like to do this on another day. Unfortunately,  I do not think that there are sufficient resources – of either money or ‘women power’ – to do it. I am trying to think up other ways to improve her life.

I am writing this blog in the hope that some person, or organisation, in Cardiff with connections to ‘elderly care’, will read this plea and be able to suggest some way of helping to make Phylis’ life happier. Another day visitor would be great, even if they could only manage an hour a week.  A friendly telephone call now and again would also work.

I sometimes think that Phylis would be happier in sheltered accommodation, where there would be other people to chat with. She is very resistant to this idea, as she would have to leave the place that has been her family home all her life.  It is a difficult situation. At the moment, Phylis is trying to come to terms with using a ‘tablet,’ hoping to find friends on ‘Facebook’. We are open to any idea that would make Phylis less lonely. Unfortunately, last year,  the Royal Voluntary Service lost their funding from the Council, due to government cut backs, so do not recruit volunteers anymore. This a great loss as there are so many lonely people in our society. Many of them do not look for help but turn up at the doctor’s surgery with minor complaints, when the real problem is that they are lonely. I think that we should all look around us and find these mostly elderly neighbours who would appreciate a smile and a little chat if nothing else. Good friendships have started from less.  I know that everyone is so busy and that families now live far apart, which does not help the situation. Just pretend that the little old lady or gentleman walking down your road on their own, or standing alone at the checkout, is your Grandma, or Grandpa. Introduce yourself with a smile at first, later a chat about the weather or local news, and over time build on that. You might be the only person that they talk to all day, maybe all week. Elderly people  like me can be a bit suspicious, so take it gently.

I am pleading for help not just for Phylis, but for all our elderly community. In this blog, I am trying to find a way to make their lives less lonely; more part  of our modern society which seems to be rushing by, not noticing them struggling on their own.