The last time I saw dad was 18 days ago on April 23rd. Since then we have spoken by phone and I even wrote to him just after my operation, but there is nothing like seeing someone in the flesh. However there have been a few changes in dad’s situation over this period. Namely he:
- had a fall at the rehabilitation centre and had to go to hospital
- was then admitted to the hospital for investigations
- lost his place at the rehabilitation centre because they only keep beds open for 24 hours (and they have said they don’t want him back)
- now has an infection and is being treated with IV antibiotics
My brother and sister-in-law saw him and said that he was in quite a bad way both physically and mentally. He’s no longer “happily mad” but very sad, weepy and muddled.
The hospital Occupation Therapist phoned me a couple of times to get some background information and an overview of dad’s situation and I was really pleased about that because she was the only one who has done this. Everyone else appears to want to address the presenting problem in isolation. So I wasn’t sure what to expect when I visited today but this is what I found:
Dad was distressed and muddled. The process he is in seems to me akin to death by a thousand cuts. He repeatedly tells me he wants to “go” and is almost willing himself ill but he is terrified of being ill.
Luckily when dad and mum were both well we had several discussions about this type of eventuality and I arranged to see the ward doctor responsible for dad. She explained that he had a fractured elbow from his fall but that it will mend by itself and that he has an infection but that the antibiotics will deal with that.
I then explained that this isn’t what dad wants and that the IV should be removed and all other medication should cease save for that which keeps dad pain free. I explained that dad and I had, along with mum, many discussions about this type of situation and that I was clear that the doctors need to either explore these issues with dad if they believe he is competent or with Steve and I , if he is not. I further explained that I had Power of Attorney for all dad’s affairs along with my brother and that this has been registered and in place since 2014.
I think this took the doctor aback a bit as she explained that her expectation was that dad could make a “full” recovery and get home. I replied that this has what’s been happening for 18 months or so: everyone treats dad’s presenting problem in isolation from issues of his wishes and quality of life.
What was interesting was that dad had a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) discussion with the doctors that very morning and they had come away believing dad WANTED resuscitation in all and any circumstances when the opposite is true. She asked dad in front of me and dad yes yes that is correct. I then asked dad if he wanted to be left to “go” rather than have a doctor try to keep him alive if he fell ill and dad said yes that was correct. After a while it became obvious that dad was answering “yes” to every question however it was put to him!
So the hospital are going to arrange for a competency test for dad and we will see where we go from here.
We did manage to have a few laughs during the visit even – no because – he’s as nutty as a fruitcake sometimes.