Ray in hospital since Tuesday
When Ray had another stroke on 30th May it was six years since his 5th stroke. I wonder why they happen when your partner is supposedly on all the right medication, having a balanced diet etc. This one has taken more of his movement away and the use of his left arm is worse, hanging at his side now like a dead limb where before he would hold it up and use his cupped hand to carry things.
The stroke resulted in falls and the falls resulted in a broken head of humerus. It made life a lot harder for me. I was lucky to get some extra help from our services provider so at least he got a shower each week day. But as one of my dementia support group says:"If you get an hour's care a day that is 23 hours without care." I really started to agree with that statement!
Which is why when he had a fall last Tuesday night and was laying on the floor in pain I called an ambulance and allowed them to take him to the nearer of our two local hospitals.
It doesn't seem fair that Ray gets sicker and sicker but that is his story at the moment. Sometimes I get envious of the "success stories" of those who have a stroke, recover and go back to work but that was Ray's story with his first stroke in 1990 aged 48. He had six months off work for rehabilitation etc and then returned to work. The two in 1999 retired us both, me to look after him. Now he has had three more, 2001, 2005, 2011. He is going downhill, the combination of stroke damage and dementia is a hard one to overcome. We do the best we can from day to day.
On Tuesday Ray had two falls one in the morning when Trev came over and picked him up, one Tuesday evening when I sent him off to hospital in an ambulance. When the paramedics checked his blood pressure it was over 220, far too high, he was red in the face, feverish, barely conscious. I am sure they thought he was having yet another stroke. When they asked him was he in pain he described pains here and there. He went in and out of sleep (unconsciousness?) as I have seen the 90+ ones do in Mum’s nursing home, it was really scary for me to watch. I knew that I couldn’t cope here with what he was going through and that hospital was the best place for him.
I followed the ambulance to the hospital. I had taken him to the doctor that afternoon and at the doctor’s insistence, we went to get his chest xrayed. This had exhausted both of us as Ray was struggling to stand and I had to hold him up for the xrays to be taken. He was hardly able to stand at all and seemed very weak and unfocussed. The radiologist had gone home before we had the xrays done so I still don’t know what the report said as I never picked them up.
I knew Ray would not be able to answer questions for the paramedics in Emergency and tell those dealing with his case what they needed to know. I spent until 1.30am in Emergency right by his side by which time they had allocated a bed for him. He has been admitted under a gerontologist.
Because of the seriousness of his condition I was asked if I wanted him resuscitated in a crisis. I really didn’t want to make that decision but had to in case he reached crisis point overnight. It was hard for me to say "no" but I have seen too many people lying unresponsive in a bed in a nursing home to want that for Ray.
Ray's presenting problems this time were chest infection, low oxygen, and impaired kidney function. I know he is in God's hands and pray that all those other hands he will be touched by do so with care and respect. I thought he would find being in hospital hard but you should see the wondrous smile on his face as those lovely girls and young men come in to minister to him. Ray has always loved nurses and once more they surround him.
Yesterday was a crisis control day as they focused on getting him rehydrated and onto antibiotics, looked at all his systems, did bloodwork etc. I was there for six hours or so answering question after question as they try to get a picture of his general health, what he can and cannot do before May 30th, after May 30th. They decided that with the chest infection he would be nil by mouth, that was hard for him but I could see the improvement hour by hour as he got rehydrated.
Today I was told all his functions are “below the red line” which I take to mean much improved. He looked better too. I took one of the church ladies with me to visit and another couple came from our WAGS (stroke support) group so he had quite a party. It was good to see him smiling and with normal colour again. Marvelous what a couple of days on the right antibiotics can do. But I guess we are not in the clear yet. He has yet to walk or weight bear at all.
The social worker wanted to speak to me. She is the one who may advise me I have to put Ray into a nursing home full time now. I will reiterate that as long as he can mobilize (walk) I will have him back home. If he cannot then of course he will have to go somewhere where there is staff and lifters and all that is needed to mobilize him and get him from place to place. It is blindingly obvious that I cannot do that alone if he can’t walk at all. This house is just not built for that and I am in danger every time I lift him on my own.
It is going to be hard for me if I have to make that decision but know it is one made every day by someone who can no longer care for their loved one at home. I am sure my children will help me with it and help me afterwards as I would have to clean the house out to move as I am sure financially that is what I would have to do.
Tomorrow is another day and I am sure will have it’s own blessings and sorrows. Think of me as I talk things over with the social worker and try and think logically of what lies ahead. It is hard when you become the one who makes the decisions that affect the life of someone you love so much.