It’s been a trying week. So much has happened since my last post.
For most of last week, we continued to focus on taking one day at a time. By Wednesday though, we were told that Dad was medically fit. We were now waiting for physio and social care to assess Dad’s need for support at home.
We were surprised by all of this. To us, he still looked/s ill. Of course this was shared with staff, but on Friday he came home.
My two sisters and I had a lovely evening with Dad. After a snooze and some tea, we sat with him and chatted about memories. Dad told us jokes.
We helped him to bed then went to bed ourselves. By 5.00am, an ambulance had been called as Dad was complaining of chest pains.
It’s now Sunday and Dad is back in the respiratory ward. His oxygen levels keep dipping and he looks exhausted. A CT scan is booked for tomorrow. We don’t know what is going on.
As is always with hindsight, there are a few things I had wished I’d done months ago to prepare for this eventuality. I thought I’d note them down now so that they may be of use to someone else.
- Get a bag prepared for your loved ome: pyjamas, underwear, toiletries. Clothing could wait, but having spare toiletries packed and ready saves a lot of bother – soap, flannel, toothcare, razor, roll-on deodorant, towel, hand cream etc.
- Make sure all medications are in the same place for ease of packing. Hospital staff and paramedics will ask for these when the patient is admitted.
- If you have children or pets, speak to family and friends about who can step-in in an emergency and have those phone numbers to hand. Make sure you know when you are allowed to call them (are they happy for middle of the night calls?!) and have a prepared info sheet ready for them – where important items are in the house etc.
- Make sure you have plenty of spare keys for the house in case of the above.
- Have a paper list ready of people that need to be informed in an emergency with their phone numbers. Mobile phone batteries don’t last all night.
- Hospital food is good and is relatively cheap but will add up over time. Make sure you have some cereal bars, bottled water etc ready to drop in your bag if you have to accompany someone into hospital. It can be a long wait until a family member comes to take over and you may not want to leave your loved-one’s bedside. You still need to take care of yourself. Furthermore, we’ve been sat waiting for a ‘snack box’ for Dad for hours before now, when he hasn’t eaten. A few snacks help.
- Similarly, stock your freezer with easy meals for when you come back from a long day at the bedside. There’s only so many packaged sandwiches and take away you can stand. Healthy eating will help you too.
- If you are a big family, designate one or two people to call the hospital at predetermined times and then to distribute information. Staff should be at the bedside, not repeating information on the phone.
- Make sure you know who the named nurse is for your loved one. In my experience different staff means different information. Add a dose of Tiredness and anxiety and you have a very confused relative.
- This last one is the most important and the most difficult. Whilst you love one is still well enough to do it, have the conversation particularly if they have a long term condition that will ensure their deterioration and/or they are elderly. Knowing what they want in each eventuality saves a lot of needless discussion and distress for all involved.
Hope this helps.