I have not blogged for a while. This is largely because I have moved house and my evenings are taken up with finding places to put everything and wondering why on earth we own so many pictures.
I have taken a break from stashing old CDs in drawers and come to Cork this weekend. This was an unplanned trip. My mother fell and broke her hip on Saturday. This is a bank holiday weekend in Ireland. My father broke his hip on St. Patrick’s weekend which was also a bank holiday weekend. He is recovering well at this stage so, I suppose, it was time for some additional bank holiday drama.
My sister went into the hospital with my mother at 3 pm. She and my brother stayed with her in rotation to midnight. At about 9 pm she got an x-ray and got moved from a seat to a trolley (triumph!). I got the train from Dublin and arrived in A&E about midnight (last train which featured engineering works at Mallow and a bus transfer from there to Cork – what’s not to love?). I spent from midnight to 4 am sitting beside my mother’s trolley in the corridor. About 6 or 7 other people were in the corridor on trolleys. Chances of sleeping were close to zero given the bright lights and people rushing around and chatting away loudly (clearly, all that money spent on health insurance was money well spent – thank you VHI).
There were no call bells in the corridor (obviously) and the staff were running around, so the chance of an older, softly spoken woman getting a glass of water or a trip to the toilet without a mouthy relative to hand were low.
About 1 am an exhausted young doctor with a large spot on one cheek (sympathy) turned up. She said in almost one breath (delivery entirely flat) “I’m the orthopaedic doctor on duty. Is this your mother? Sorry, no one should have to be on a trolley and no one should suffer with a broken hip for more than 24 hours. It will probably be Tuesday or Wednesday before she is operated on.” Then she drifted off into the night. We had had our 2 minutes of bank holiday doctor.
At 3 am the nurse on duty said to me, “It’s quieter now, do you want to go home?” I decided to give it another half hour. At 3.30 am I went to the desk to tell the nurse that I was leaving. “She’s on her break, she’ll be back in half an hour.” I decided to stay until she came back and about 4 am two people came and started moving my mother’s trolley. The excitement, a bed had become available. How does that work? Did someone die? Did someone move? Did someone new come on duty? They were, presumably, not discharging patients in the middle of the night. A mystery. After 13 hours in A&E, a bed on a ward with a call bell and curtains and the possibility of turning off the light seemed really fantastic. I wasn’t even particularly resentful as I gave the nurse the details of Mum’s drug regime for other conditions. This was the third time that evening – we had already given the information twice in A&E. The first time we gave them our printed sheet but they lost that, second time I gave it from the list on my phone. The nurse noted it but the file didn’t seem to have travelled to the ward. How does it work for patients whose families aren’t there? I saw an elderly gentleman who was clearly confused sitting on a trolley, opening and closing his mouth. I wonder how they will sort out his drug regime?
I was disappointed but not entirely surprised when the hospital called in the morning to ask us to bring in Mum’s medicines as their pharmacy wouldn’t open until Tuesday. My brother and I spent most of today in the hospital trying (largely unsuccessfully) to persuade my mother to eat the rather unappetising hospital food and supplements we brought in ourselves (to be fair, equally unpopular). She was to fast from midnight with a view to having her operation tomorrow – but I recalled the words of the tired doctor and didn’t believe that they really would operate on Monday. That didn’t make me or the patient any less disappointed when, at 10 this evening, we were told that the operation wouldn’t be tomorrow.
I have to go back to Dublin tomorrow afternoon and my sister is in Spain for work for the week so I think my brother is going to have a tough week.