I always used to go round to see my mother each day to make sure she had everything she needed. One morning I got the urge to ring her for some inexplicable reason,she sounded hoarse,so it seemed a good idea to pop round and check her out.She was unwell so I called the doctor out,he prescribed some antibiotics and said "keep an eye on her". Since the carers were due at that time it was possible to collect the prescription and get some shopping done. Having done that,I went home,her cleaner was there,she was also a friend.
Later that day,the cleaner phoned to say my mother had "crawled upstairs" and gone to bed. She was like that very independent.
She was in bed and having trouble breathing and could not lie down,it appeared to be heart failure,a familiar condition. I gave her ten minutes to decide on an ambulance or a cup of tea.She opted for the ambulance.
The ambulance was rapid,since they had a description of the problem,the paramedics dealt with the situation efficiently and professionally. Unfortunately I could not go in the ambulance with her,because,it was night,my money and medication were at home,all I was wearing was trousers and a T shirt.
On arrival in the ward the following morning,a doctor ushered me into a side room.
"We treated her for heart failure not knowing she had bad kidneys" "She has about a month,all I can tell you is when it happens it will be quick"
All I could think of saying was "Have you anything else to say to me"
The doctor hesitated "No", he said and left the room with his assistant,(witness)
Visiting was Hell! It was a fight to get flexible visiting times,the jobsworths fought it every inch,despite my being the only family member.
I watched my mother die alone, in a side room,the nurse was on her tea break,the pain killing drugs that had been promised, unadministered. She was eighty four.
F[&*^] the National Health Service!!!!
Kidney failure is horrendous. Victims literally die before your eyes as the salt builds up in their bodies,the faculties decay, one by one. I watched her go blind an assume the characteristics of dementia.
One sister said,when I asked her to help her move."She can do it herself"!
Whilst General Practitioners know their patients,hospitals can be on the level of battery chicken factories.
Terrible indeed. Medical have to be impersonal to a certain extent to stay sane,but that doesn't help the patient or their families.
A friend of mine,a philosopher,says that the moral component has disappeared from medical ethics. Everything is now distilled down to utilitarian and legal considerations
This,I think, removes the humanity from medicine,and indeed many other areas of life.
It wasn't about me,I just did what ever was best for my mother.If it took grovelling the so be it,if it took a temper tantrum,off we go.Plenty of schmoozing the nurses who looked after her. Whatever creates the best environment.
I've never talked about it before,I sense it is a more common experience.There needs to be a greater concentration on medical ethics,doctors aren't fixing clunkers,but human beings.
The worst was watching the end,despite promises, my mother did not die easy.She was obviously in great pain when the salt reached her heart.As she went her false teeth came out.I put them back and stroked her hair into place,gave her a last kiss on her forehead,spent some time,I know not how long,with while the nurses came and pronounced her dead.
Then I rang my lift who had gone home,not thinking it would be so quick,and walked the four miles back to her house,locked up and went home.I was alone with her in the room.They always wheeled them into that side room to die.It was the absence of nursing or other staff that was appalling,that and the lack of any palliative medication.
She died the 8th July 2003.
Not hard to keep calm. I'm neurotic about things like losing a pair of glasses,but anything serious and I go ice cold efficient. Just made that way I suppose.
Amazing how the human race adapts to the most cruel afflictions.That is why the "death panels" are so obscene,people can live a life even under the most difficult conditions. Who is some little Nazi like Emanuel to withhold treatment?
This is the story of the human race,it is all our stories,they should be taken into account in any health system.
The quality of their lives and magnitude of their losses should be factored into the equation.We should start a movement for morality and humanity in medicine.