Mum is in her fourth week in hospital. Every day I make the exhausting journey there and back to provide some sort of familiarity. Little did we know when she was admitted on 17 September that she would be in for so long. They are still fighting the infection and the pain. She's on her third type of antibiotic and swallowing a cocktail of painkillers. She has been poked and prodded with needles for all manner of tests and x-rayed a few times, all to no avail and no nearer to a cure or care plan. She is in a ward for the elderly and most of them, as far as I can tell, have lost their marbles. Purely because of the unfamiliarity of the place, the pain and the infection, my mother is slowly joining them. She doesn't always realise she is in hospital. If she leaves her room to go for tests, she thinks she is being taken to another part of London, when in reality her bed has just been wheeled downstairs. Sometimes her ramblings make no sense at all. The mum I took to A&E four weeks ago is not the same woman. She's worse. This is a woman who, four weeks ago, was reading the newspapers and hungrily devouring the news on TV.
I seek advice and an update on mum's progress from the young junior doctor who sits at the nurse's station glued to her computer screen. I might add she is the only doctor I am able to approach, because the consultants keep well out of sight on the wards during visiting times. The young doctor, fresh out of uni, looks like a rabbit in headlights every time I enquire about mum's progress. A few days ago she attempted to put a cannula in mum's arm, spent a good half hour, preparing, feeling for bulbous veins, bathing the arm in antiseptic and feeling for veins again. Each time she inserted the needle, mum shot six feet into the air and screamed with the pain and the doctor had to admit defeat after two attempts. A nurse came along and did the procedure painlessly in 2 minutes.
Before every meal (breakfast, lunch and supper) they test her blood sugar. A needle prick in the end of the finger to draw blood which is then measured for blood sugar levels. They always come back within the normal range. Quite why this is necessary over a period of at least a week is questionable. Mum is not, and never has been, diabetic. They could surely establish that in a few days of finger pricking tests, but, no, the relentless finger pricking continues.
My mother is 94 and should be enjoying her last days. The leg ulcer is already causing immense pain, so quite why she needs to be subjected to more with pointless tests which get us no further, I don't know. I am worried she is becoming institutionalised and may have transgressed into a la-la world from which she will never return.