Saturday, 5 December 2009

Nearly there

There was yet more housework, more laundry, a bit of shopping and the ceremonial wrestling of the stinking double quilt into a large bin bag for the launderette tomorrow to get through before I got up to the Charing Cross Hospital.

Dad had been moved to a large downstairs ward and was with a number of other similarly aged patients. I got there early as I wanted to drop off his socks and thought I could leave them with the nurse in charge. The lady at the desk misunderstood my intentions and told me I could see him as I clearly didn't know the visiting times. Just to make sure next time that I showed up after 14:00.

Nope he wasn't happy. A nurse was trying to get him to stay still as she had to cut some of the stitches. The wound didn't look good. The entire right big toe was missing and there were obvious problems with the second and third toes.

I left the socks; the nurse and I tried to keep Dad calm whilst she cut some of the stitches but it was slow going.

He was on a drip which was hooked up to a rolling stand and he became distracted by that.

Then the nurse saw what he was doing and told him to stop. He'd started to worry at the screw fitting connecting the drip to the cannula in his arm and the three way tap it was attached to as well.

The nurse tried to change the cannula but that meant unscrewing the three way tap and drip from the cannula. Dad had overtightened the fitting and it wouldn't budge. She had a long go at unscrewing it. She went to fetch help and I tried to give it a go.

It shifted loose by the time she came back. With Dad complaining loudly, the nurse changed the cannula and moved on to another patient.

After the nurse, left, I stayed a little longer and Dad carried on worrying at the drip stand. I was then asked to leave as it wasn't visiting time yet.

I went to the internet cafe to find out what the message I received last night was all about. I was going to be interviewed at The Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead.


I was invited to click on the link to arrange an interview time and date. No probs.

I clicked on the link and instead of arranging an interview, it told me when I was going to be interviewed.

15:00 Friday 18th December 2009. Take it or leave it.

Okay then, I'll take it. I printed off the page so I could show the Advisor on Monday when I signed on. I was going to need help with the fares for yet another trip to London.

I went for a wander and at 14:00 I went back to the hospital and found Dad sitting in the chair beside his bed. He had unscrewed the adjustable pole for the drip stand, had separated the two pieces and now the drip line, sitting with the drip bag on the bed beside him, was filling up with blood.

Oblivious to the bag beside him, he told me what he'd done, all the while swinging the hooked pole around as if trying to find a new place for it. It was broken, look at it, it shouldn't be allowed, it could be dangerous....

I took the hooked drip pole from him, placed it high in its rolling base, screwed the set back together and reset the bag. Almost immediately, the liquid in the bag and drip righted itself, all the cloudy red murk started flowing the right way towards his arm and the drip started dripping again.

He started worrying at the drip itself including the little wheeled slider which adjusted drip flow. Alternating between all open and stopped. I wrestled it from him and set it to drip at a slow but steady rate.

I went to find a nurse. I found the nurse who had changed his cannula earlier. I told her what had transpired. She went to check and I went with her. We found Dad in the process of unscrewing the drip stand again. He was trying to demonstrate that the pole, completely extended would reach the ceiling.

No chance.

He was adamant that the pole was long enough to reach all the way to the ceiling. We tried to get him to calm down again, but he was having none of it. In the end, I extended the pole as far as it would go and he was satisfied then.

He had also fiddled with the cannula fitting again. This time, when the nurse changed it, there was no trouble. It was clear now that Dad couldn't be left by himself. He was a clear danger to himself at this rate.

I was sent on errands for razors and then, separately, for grapes. This took time as it meant leaving the hospital and going to Boots and Sainsbury's. The hospital shop is extortionate and I have so little money that I needed to economise any way I could. And, frankly, I needed to get away for a little while.

As I went back and forth, I met the nurse on occasion and she told me that they were trying to get Dad moved to his own side ward with someone to look after him round the clock. I tried to explain to her that although he was cantankerous, feeble and had a failing memory, he wasn't normally this bad.

Oh yes, she said, this happens in some patients when they are recovering and are on IV antibiotics. It was quite normal. I wasn't reassured.

I left at meal break, had a wander round and returned at 18:30.

He was transferred to his own side ward. Again, he wasn't happy that there was someone by the open door looking in on him. Like he was going to do something wrong.


I repeatedly told him that I was leaving tomorrow, that today was Saturday and tomorrow was Sunday. I couldn't see him tomorrow as I had to go back to Wolverhampton. Having established he didn't need anything else brought in for him, we kissed goodbye and I left.

I texted my brothers to let them know where he was and left the hospital. It was cold. It was dark. It was wet. It was miserable. It matched my mood.