So I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised when I arrived one afternoon to find someone else in my mother’s bed. I panicked momentarily until a nurse pointed me in the direction of a single room. There were only 4 single rooms on the ward. There had been complaints about how noisy my mother was being both during the day and especially at night. So, no, I should not have been surprised.
One of the phone calls I had made that first morning was to BUPA, to whom my mother was paying an enormous monthly premium. Apparently the NHS provide the best treatment for strokes, so BUPA were unable to help but, a move to a single room, I thought was the next best thing.
‘So!” I said. ‘Your own room, this is great isn’t it?’
‘Well you try it! I never see anybody! I ring the bell, nobody comes! I need to get out of here! What are you doing about it?’ Ahh well, you can’t please everyone all the time and my mother was one of those people.
Finding out how long she was going to be in Cheltenham for was a challenge. Consultants are like ships, they disappear silently into the night, or at least before visiting hours. I did manage to trap a doctor behind the Nurse’s Station on day one. I asked if he could tell me how bad my mother stroke had been. To which he replied
‘Massive?’ I parroted.
‘I’m afraid so. Look I will show you her scan. It is very likely that she will be completely paralysed down her left side and she will not regain her speech and …..’
‘Speech?!’ I was parroting again.
‘Yes … I’m so sorry …’
‘Um … but can you hear that lady grumbling in Room 4?’ His eyes widened and he nodded.
‘Well, that is my mother!’
‘Ah, I see … ‘
I have no idea how senior that doctor was but he was showing me somebody else’s scan which another son or daughter would have to deal with.
My mother had probably been in hospital for a week before I pinned a Consultant down in the visitor’s room.
My mother had got off reasonably lightly. Her speech would improve, certainly, the volume had not been compromised, but the movement her left arm and leg were badly impaired and however much physio she would subsequently be given in rehab, she would never be able to walk without a zimmer or similar device.
My mother was in Cheltenham for over two weeks. She was looked after brilliantly. She was not the model patient. She wasn’t sleeping at night, she was very anxious most of the time and repeatedly pressing her call button. I arrived one afternoon to be told that a bed had become available for her back at the lovely Cirencester Cottage Hospital and that she would be sent back in an ambulance later that afternoon. I heaved a sigh of relief. The end was in sight, she would soon be back home.
Next …The Knock on Effect