NHS Hospital

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 24 May, 2023

Wednesday

Mum had made it on to a ward at The Hospital now. It’s my first visit since her admission. It’s a large metropolitan teaching hospital. Given the serious nature of her condition – pneumonia and sepsis – and how quickly this could go pear-shaped, I took this out of the family WhatsApp chat so that the members who may be of a more sensitive disposition didn’t see anything too upsetting.

I’d been with Mum no more than 3 minutes when a nurse came over and said

“Are you Nicholas? The Doctor wants to speak to you. He’s waiting over there…”

I ended up having long conversations with Dr W and Dr B. They said that the bug Mum had was odd and while the antibiotics they had got her on were keeping her stable her bloods show the infection was quite severe.

They had also found a heart murmur and that had two causes. There was calcification of a valve AND some other scarring so she’d had a minor heart attack at some point. They just knew it hadn’t been recent as there were no markers in her bloods.

The blood tests also showed a problem with her liver. They couldn’t tell if that was caused by The Bug or the antibiotics she was on. If her bloods didn’t improve they’d do an ultrasound to see if they could spot anything.

On admission they had done a head CT which ruled out a stroke but it had revealed what they thought was a meningioma. A non-urgent out-patient MRI would be scheduled at some point to confirm neurosurgery’s belief that it was benign.

Oh, and Mum’s bone density was a concern too

 At this point in the thread, Eldest Sister interjects.

“Bloody hell! That’s a lot!”

Brother concurs…

“Not entirely inconsistent with a woman her age but, like you say, bloody hell.”

But there was more.

Both Doctors seemed very concerned by Mum’s confusion. They were unimpressed when I said this was normal for her. It wasn’t though, was it. She did seem worse than normal and had done for a few weeks if not more. It could’ve been lack of oxygen. They said they’d been weaning her off it and I noticed the flow rate while I was there was zero. It could be dehydration/hunger from being really under the weather.

This long list was a prelude to the conversation about DNR.

Dr B particularly said that after CPR she’d need a spell in ITU. His words were “You need a fair amount of physiological fortitude to make it through ITU”. He didn’t think she had it .

I said “If the medical opinion is that the quality of life in what is likely to be a relatively short period post CPR isn’t good then there’s no point putting her through it. Even if we had Power of Attorney over health (we don’t) then that would only empower us to authorise what we believe to be her wishes. But, if medical opinion is that DNR is the most humane decision, non of us would contest that.”

There was one vote of approval and no dissenters to that.

To leave things on a brighter note, Mum did seem pretty good all things considered. She wasn’t out of the woods yet but she wasn’t getting worse at that point. I was warned that if she did take a turn for the worse though, the decline would be quick.

So, to summarise, Mum was on antibiotics of course and anticoagulant injections as there was a worry that that thing in her heart could cause a clot leading to a stroke. Going forward, the anticoagulants would in in tablet form and we’d be given a long list of things to be aware of in terms of after-care with bleeding, headaches etc. She’d also be getting injections of something to help with bone density.

Finally, I put on record my thanks to whoever it had been who told them that “You need to speak to Nick about that…”

Both sisters put their hand up to that. 

Author’s Note

My Mum is in a nursing home in a small village in the Thames Valley. The photo is not of the home. I used an AI image generator to give the reader some idea of the home she’s in.

All, some or maybe even none (you’ll never know!) of the names have been changed to protect privacy and hide real identities. If you think you recognise someone then let me know and I’ll edit the post or remove it entirely

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