Nursing Home

By Nick Gilmore

Published: 16 May, 2024

Thursday

What a bloody dreadful day.

Lesley’s Dad had an appointment for a head CT scan at the hospital in Oxford. His referral to the Memory Clinic required it. Privately, I wondered how much difference that would make as his cognitive decline seems to be accelerating already. They do say that by the time your dementia gets diagnosed it’s already too late.

Getting him to that hospital is a team effort because the parking availability there is woeful. I drive and hover by the entrance long enough for Dad to get plonked in his wheelchair and whisked away by Lesley while I go away to find somewhere to park. And, because she’s never been left at home on her own for one second since we’ve had her, The Dog comes too.

We picked Dad up in plenty of time. Time enough for him to get in the hospital, go to the toilet, find where he’s supposed to be and go to the toilet again. That was until we hit the roadworks on the ring road. We got there with ten minutes to spare. As it turned out, that ten minutes got more than taken up by poor directions of the hospital letter and corridors blocked by what was allegedly a “fire alarm”.

Parking at the hospital is so bad that people arrive hours early for their appointment in order to get a space and that blocks paces for far longer than necessary thus making the parking problem worse in Dante-esque spiral of doom.

The car park was rammed and some drivers were taking a chance on a £100 fine by leaving their car in a “Don’t even think of parking here” zone. The Dog and I did several slow laps of the car park but nothing was moving. We went round the hospital to another car park but they were queuing to get in that one so we went back to the first. We did that a couple more times before giving up and heading away from the hospital. Parking in the streets around the hospital without a resident’s permit is prohibited, for obvious reasons, so we headed out of Oxford. And straight into heavy traffic.

Lesley’s parting words that “We’ll only be in radiology for ten minutes” were getting louder in my head so I abandoned any plan to walk at Shotover and we fought our way back to the ring road to get back to the hospital.

The Dog and I found somewhere quasi-legal to hover just as Lesley and her dad were emerging again.

Plans for letting The Dog stretch her legs a bit were re-adjusted to do that in the fields round Lesley’s Dad’s village. We all love that walk so no real hardship.

 A few minutes into the walk, my phone rings. It’s Juliette from Mum’s home. Mum’s been given an appointment for a heart scan and it’s at the hospital back home where she was first admitted almost a year ago.

Bloody hell.

 I managed to get to The Home before Juliette’s shift ended. We agreed that there was no way that Mum would cope with the journey to The Hospital. Mum frets if she’s out of her room for more than a few minutes. The Hospital is two hours away on a good day and if you have to go round the M25 at all then it’s never a good day. That journey has taken me as long as four hours. I couldn’t risk subjecting her to that.

Nobody here in the Thames Valley would refer Mum back to that hospital for a scan so it had to have been an old referral. Nobody, to my knowledge at least, had requested a scan since Mum had left the initial general medical ward at The Hospital. My initial reaction was that this referral was a clerical error, that all the scans she’d needed had been carried out and reported back to us and that the appointment should be made to go away given how traumatic the journey would be for Mum.

I let updated the Siblings chat with all this. Their reaction was that they needed more info before they could decide what to do. I did too. I needed to back through these notes and match up every scan request we’d been told about with a report of results.

When I did eventually get to see Mum, I found her in a state that could best be described as ‘Active’. In spite of a multitude of pillows and cushions to prop her up she had wriggled her way diagonally across the bed, her sheet and blankets were wrapped in a ball in her lap and there were Other People all around her. All consistent with an Active Mum phase. She was also in a good mood. That’s typical too.

“Hello Mum! It’s Nicholas.”

“Nicholas!? Ooh good. Did you bring Little’Un with you?”

“Who Mum?”

“Little’Un. Did you bring Little’Un with you?”

Not knowing who, or even what, Little’Un was I just said I’d had to leave them at home.

Even though she seemed much more interested in talking to her Other People, I did manage to ask her one question. Eldest Sister had raised the point that Mum may well not cooperate with the trip back to The Hospital.

“Mum? Do you fancy a trip out to The Hospital for a day soon?

“No thanks!” she replied cheerily.

Then she told me that she hadn’t seen Uncles Tony or Terry today and asked me where they were.

It was that sort of visit. It had been that sort of day.

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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