My mother has got worse. A week ago, I went in - as I do every day - to prepare her lunch and found her floppy, confused, shaking like a leaf and not at all like my mum. I dialed 999 and an ambulance crew arrived in ten minutes. She was whisked off to A&E where we spent ten hours! Yep, you read right - TEN HOURS. In the first few hours, she was undressed, put in a gown, bloods taken, a catheter put in and then we more or less sat in a cubicle for a few more hours waiting and waiting and waiting. I studied the scratches and gouges on the walls and got to know them intimately. Mum writhed on the trolley in agony. We then saw an A&E doctor at about the 3-hour stage. The blood results finally came back, showing a severe infection - but where? More waiting. Then after about nine hours one of the ward doctors came down to assess whether she was ill enough to be admitted. She was. But first a chest x-ray, which thankfully was all-clear. Finally after ten hours (and not a drop or morsel past our lips) she was taken up to a ward, where she has been for the last week.
The infection is coming from the nasty leg ulcer she has had since May. Back in May it was the size of a grape, then grew to a kiwi,
then a peach. It had been more or less peach-sized for weeks, but now with the infection it
is the size of a postcard! It is not healing as her leg artery is blocked meaning blood cannot get down to heal the ulcer. It is virtually eating away her lower leg and is quite an horrendous sight. District nurses have been dressing it three times a week but now the hospital has left it exposed for it to dry out and thus stop the moist warm conditions that bacteria thrive on. The infection would explain my mother's quite dramatic decline over the last few weeks when even making a cup of tea was too much effort for her and she has been eating less and less of the meals I have prepared for her. Thankfully over the last week the infection is losing and the IV antibiotics are winning. However the excruciating pain she has been in since November (which we recently found out is caused by the arterial blockage) is still driving her crazy and she cannot get any rest. The hospital are experimenting with new drugs to try to lower the pain, but so far nothing has worked, even morphine. Even amputation has been considered by the doctors but, we are told, is really too risky for a 94-year-old. We wait and wait with bated breath.