Visit to my Nan

I left home at 5.30am on Wednesday, and went straight to the hospital (arriving at about 1.30pm) to see Nan, who had been admitted via ambulance. She’d apparently had a “fluttery heart” and acute abdominal pain. To recap, she had a major stroke a couple of years ago, rendering her right side immobile. She has diabetes, angina, thyroid problems, arthritis and a multitude of linked problems. Generally, frail, but mentally sound.

By reading her charts, and talking to the (lovely) ward sister, I found out that the situation was: digoxin toxicity on admittance (puzzling as she had asked the GP to stop all medication the day before;) weight loss (now 7stone); dehydration; possible urine infection. She was catheterised and receiving glucose solution via a drip, receiving pain relief as needed, and being monitored – BP and temperature were getting lower at that time, and breathing irregular. She had had an abdominal scan which showed a “mass” of some sort, and staff were waiting to see what further tests would be done. She also had kidney failure. I think we all felt it was a matter of time before she couldn’t cope with any more, and certainly she told me, and my cousin Keith, that she’d had enough.

I saw her again on Thursday before driving back home, as I couldn’t stay away longer, and she looked brighter, mainly, for having been rehydrated I think. She was (and still is) unable to swallow and therefore not able to eat or drink. She had had a spinal x-ray – presumably in relation to the abdominal mass, though this was not confirmed. I called my mum and advised her to come down.

She arrived on Friday 20/07/07 and was with my Nan throughout the events that followed:

One doctor came to say that as Nan was looking so much better, she could probably go back to the nursing home in a day or two.

Within an hour, another arrived and said she was being discharged that day, and transport was being arranged. My mum asked about the fact that she was still catheterised and the doctor said it would be removed and asked if Nan could use the loo. Mum replied, that she was taken to the loo by hoist as she was immobile. (Throughout her hospital stay, it went apparently unnoticed by many,that my Nan cannot move herself, not even to turn or move position in bed)

My mum was advised that there was no ambulance available but that a hospital taxi would be organised and the hospital would pay the fare. When it was announced that it had arrived, there was a flurry of activity to get Nan up and dressed and into a wheelchair. The taxi driver then requested that staff put her into the taxi so he didn’t have to bring the wheelchair back, and they did so. Fortunately, my mum insisted on travelling too, as Nan is a poor traveller. The journey was awful for her- she constantly slipped on the seat (and could not right herself) and she felt very unwell. My mum was worried in case anything happened (angina attack for example) and how she would deal with it, and whether the taxi driver was insured for transporting such a frail patient.

On arrival at the Nursing home, staff helped Nan out of the taxi and into her room, whilst stating that they were not supposed to move patients without a hoist (which would not fit inside the taxi, of course). Further, the driver required my mum to pay the fare, which was just about as much as she had in her purse at the time, and she obtained a receipt.

The whole family is so cross about this casual discharge, and we’ve made a complaint, and asked for: Reimbursement of the taxi fare which mum should never have been required to pay; An explanation for the hasty discharge with NO INFORMATION WHATSOEVER being given either to Nan or mum; and Details of the diagnosis and prognosis – short term, and, if applicable, long term. (So – what was the result of the spinal x-ray, and what is expected to happen now that she is no longer on a drip, yet unable to eat or drink?)

It seems that they just patch her up and send her off to decline again – which is ludicrous. We don’t ask for miracle “cures” – she’s an elderly lady, her body is tired, and we know she can’t carry on for ever. All we want is for her to have some comfort and dignity, and for some information as to what they think will happen next. I wonder what response we will get – watch this space!


  1. […] My Nan – is still hanging on in there, but I think she’s getting weaker. After I complained to the hospital in Sussex, the matron investigated and responded. She organised a full refund of the taxi rafe that mum had had to pay, and has told the taxi firm that they were int he wrong regarding that, and the not taking the wheelchair. She also explained why Nanny was discharged, and though the family don’t agree with it still, we do accept they did as they thought was right. We have, however, continued to object to the lack of information given and asked that those responsible, be quietly told that it is unacceptable. A discussion with Nanny’s GP means we all feel happier that he is thinking the same as us and that he really is doing his best, so we are satisfied that he knows how we feel and we know what he’s trying to do. […]

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