Archive for May 27th, 2005

Day 29 – Thursday 26th May

The Day with the Awful Ending

I was gonna call today “The Day of Extremes”, and although that name still applies, recent events require a new name.

Great Start to the day. I entered the ward to see Karen smiling sat upright in a chair. Wahey ! Within 10 minutes, Karen wanted OUT of the chair. She was very uncomfortable. I suppose it must be very strange to be sat in a chair after a month lying on a bed. The nurses wanted to keep her in for a number of good reasons (lungs, strengthening muscles etc…) but kp was not having any of it and made herself very clear.

kp:- I WANT to get back into bed.
nurse:- Fine. Bed it is.

kp got her own way and the nurses set about the big task of moving her from a chair to the bed (takes 3 nurses).

kp is starting to get concerned about her eyesight. When we pass her something to look at, she puts it right upto her right eye, so close it is almost touching. It’s disconcerting and saddening. One of the nurses did some tests to confirm the extent of the problem, but we won’t hear any more on this until the Stroke specialists have done a more in-depth study. Apparently, it is not unusual for this to occur and then patients get back full vision in the course of time.

After a snooze on the bed, kp wanted to go back in the chair so we could take her for a coffee outside. The nurses did their thing to get kp in the chair, but unfortunately there weren’t enough nurses free to take Karen for the coffee, so she had to wait in the chair for quite a while. She started getting frustrated. Tut here, Tut tut there, here a tut, there a tut, everywhere a tut tut.

The ICU ward was completely bare of any patients apart from Karen, so we put the ghetto blaster on with disco fever playing. kp started dancing (with her right hand), and asked me to dance. kp knows only too well that I am no John Travolta. But, for the sake of amusing the Queen, I strutted my funky stuff. kp had a good belly laugh, and then asked for a repeat performance when Jane returned from a breath of fresh air, so she could enjoy the pleasures of dance (dp style). What fun we had ;-|

After “Come Dancing”, kp ordered me to Ward 3 to check out her new quarters. I was able to return with a positive report, namely kp had her own private room and that she was moving today :-) or should that be :-(

Just before we went for a coffee, one of the consultants and another member of staff asked to seem me privately.

Consultant :- It’s nothing negative Karen, I am sure David will tell you what its about.


We ended up discussing it in front of karen. It was to do with this blog. It had come to their attention and although they appreciated the good light it showed their department in, they requested that we not mention nurses by name, and not include photos without express permission of the nurses. They were exceedingly nice about it – A totally legitimate request after all. So, sorry to any nurse that didn’t want their photo on the blog. I have removed all offending photos. Let me know if I have missed any. I have also tried to go through the blog and remove name references, but there is a chance I have missed 1 or 2, so please contact me if I have missed one out. I won’t be at all offended and it will be removed.

By the time this chat was over, it was tea/coffee time with kp outside. Yay !! This time, because she was in the chair, we could get her into a courtyard area outside one of the cafes.

kp was in top form and enjoyed her cup of tea.

No sooner were we back at the ICU ward than it was time for kp to move to her new Ward.

We gave the ward a card of thanks and some choccies.

Karen signed the card.

On arrival, Judith (one of her work colleagues was visiting) and had dropped off a film kp’s colleagues had done for her. I had a quick preview tonight and it looks very funny. I will put it on the laptop so kp can see it on a bigger screen. Thanks Judith.

We moved her down, got her settled, sorted visiting hours out but within a short period of time, it became very obvious how much difference one-to-one nursing (ICU) is to one nurse to 12 patients nursing.

When we needed some nurses to move kp to a comfortable position, it was hard to muster support. She hasn’t had her usual bedbath before she goes to sleep and it is a very big culture shock for Karen. For all of us in fact. Karen hasn’t got the strength to move herself. She can’t cut her food up (only 1 arm working). She needs assistance for frankly everything. And the poor nurses there have another 11 patients to deal with each. The next few days are going to be very interesting indeed and this was highlighted tonight.

When we left Karen, she had been moved into a comfy position and had fallen asleep. Within an hour of going home, she was on the phone to Marie and myself in tears. She couldn’t work the phone, the tv and she desperately wanted me to go to the hospital to help her.

Of course, I went straight away and I was faced with the saddest of pictures when I entered her room. I am in tears now recalling it. She wasn’t crying. She wasn’t upset. She was watching TV intently. I watched for a few seconds before entering. I said “hiya love, what you watching”. She said “not sure”. So I looked and she was watching a static picture on the tv saying “Do not use your mobile phones in the hospital”. No sound, no movement. So very sad.

I just hugged her. She was an empty shell.

We got to talking and she said she had to get out of there. I explained as best I could that until her pelvis is healed she needed to be in the hospital.

kp: You need to think “Out of the box”. Phone your dad. He’s good at thinking out of the box. But I can’t stay here.

In the background was the wailing of an old woman crying for help. The stroke ward is mostly full of the older generation.

I was holding back the tears desperately. If I could take Karen home, I could look after her. No, I couldn’t, I need an X-ray machine, drugs etc etc…I also need another person to help me move her. My thoughts were racing.

I couldn’t think of a solution. She was due her sleeping tablets but kp spotted they were going to give her the wrong ones (they hadn’t worked for kp a couple of nights before). I had to ring ICU to find out the right ones.

This was awful. AWFUL !

Poor Karen was in tears. I was so close, and trying to retain some calmness. Karen was saying some pretty negative things (I am not going to elaborate more than that). I was very concerned.
She was uncomfortable and wanted making comfy. I couldn’t find anyone to help in the first 5 minutes. I buzzed the buzzer and a nurse came and told us that we were just one of 25 patients that needed attention and that they would get to us eventually.

I tried in vain, on my own to get kp comfy. She doesn’t know what makes her comfy, so she can’t instruct. She can only say when she is comfy. I couldn’t find the position. She was sure she wanted to be on her right hand side.

Within 15 minutes (but it felt a lot longer), 2 lovely nurses came in and sorted her out. I had the position perfect but they had her on her opposite side. I’ll know for next time. Within 1 minute of her getting comfy (no exaggeration) the sleeping tablets had kicked in and she was out for the count. I tried to tell her “Good Night”, but there was no rousing her.

She is going to wake up in the night and be frightened unable to call anyone because she won’t be able to find the buzzer I positioned right by her. She can’t use the phone because she can’t see the numbers to dial and struggles to get it off the receiver.

I feel awful, so sad, and within 1 metre of the ward door I was in tears. By the time I got to the car, I must have looked like a beetroot.

I am knackered ! I have eaten anything today apart from a pasty (thanks Marie).

I have called a family conference for tomorrow. The only way forward I can see is for the family to pull together to cover Karen’s waking moments with company and to be her oddjob person.

I phoned Jane and Marie on the way home and both were very supportive and came up with some good arguments for kp’s behaviour.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings…………….

I suppose it can’t be any worse. Or am I being naive ?


I will post information about visiting kp tomorrow night after the family conference.
I know some of you asked about sending flowers but the ICU ward couldn’t have flowers in for infection reasons. Flowers are now ok and may boost kp’s morale. The address is

Karen Pollard
c/o Ward 3,
Queen Elizabeth Hospital
Queen Elizabeth Avenue
Sheriff Hill

Day 30 – Friday 27th May – Part One

The day after the awful day

Well, its 4pm and I have come home to sort the dogs out. Marie is staying on until I go back about 6pm.

I was hoping today couldn’t be any worse than yesterday and my hopes were realised. kp was feeling more positive today.

Last Night carried on being a negative experience for kp. She needed attending to in the night and couldn’t find the buzzer. She said she had been calling out for help but noone had been forthcoming.

Last Night, Marie asked Yvonne if she could get in for 8am, which she did. It sounds like Yvonne had been quite firm with Karen and not given in to the emotional blackmail that other family members (myself primarily) are so prone to. Karen responded well to this approach. I may take a bottle of brandy in and try to be firm myself :-)

I had told her that we were going to have a family conference and as soon as we were all present, kp pressed the issue and got the conference underway. Present were the 5 sisters (Karen, Marie, Michelle, Yvonne and Jane (the new adopted sister)). We now have a plan of attack which kp is happy with.

Cover is as follows
8am – 11am. Jane.
11am – 1pm – dp
1pm – 6pm – Marie
6pm – 8pm Yvonne
7pm – eyes shut – dp

This should also be good for us, so we don’t get too exhausted for what will undoubtedly be a long haul.

Big thanks to all the sisters who have offered help. And to the “Pretend Friends” !! :-)

The Video
Karen’s work colleagues had put together a sketch to cheer her up. I put it on my laptop so I could show it to her on a bigger screen than the camcorder. Marie brought in a big flat magnifying glass and we all gathered round the laptop. kp was very eager to see it and thoroughly enjoyed it – big smiles appeared on her face. I don’t think she could see the detail of it, but she knew the voices and spotted the odd person when her eyes focussed correctly. I feel sure it will get quite a few replays and will provide many more laughs. Thanks VERY much to kp’s team for this. Little advice for all of you involved. DO NOT QUIT the National Blood Service. You will not be getting acting careers ! If it had been professional actors it wouldn’t have been half as much fun ! Hope noone is offended by that. I’ll find out next time I give blood :-)

Karen has MRSA again in her head wound. Her head wound incidentally is pretty horrific. I have seen it undressed and you get the impression if you put your finger in it, you could touch the brain. I have resisted the temptation so far.

So it was barrier nursing today. Gowns and Gloves.

Abbie’s Visit
Abbie, (Karen’s niece’s daughter), visited today. She enjoyed dressing up as a doctor (she is 8) and sneaking up on Karen. Karen was very pleased to see her. I think Abbie may have been a bit surprised at seeing Karen in a hospital bed not looking her usual million dollars. But she braved it well.

So, all in all, a lot more of a positive day. I am feeling a lot better because Karen is. I just hope she gets a good night’s sleep tonight, but I will do another shorted blog entry before bed to report on her evening.

If you would like to visit Karen, then we would welcome the visitors and it would keep Karen mentally stimulated. Visiting Hours are 11am – 1pm, 4pm – 8pm. We’ll break the visiting into 1 hour slots, so if you would like to visit, please ring Marie on either 01642-284812 or 07961-346149. You may have to leave a message as Marie is at the hospital a lot and won’t be able to ring back until she is out of the hospital. Please leave your name, phone number and preferred date/time for visiting. Marie will get back to you to confirm its ok.

Thanks !!

Until later…


Day 30 – Friday 27th May – Part Two

Went back to the hospital at 6.30pm to relieve Marie who had given kp a good wash and scrubdown.

A consultant had been in and told kp that it may take as long as Xmas to get kp walking properly again. I don’t think Karen was overly concerned at that, her main objective at the moment is to get out of this “godforsaken hellhole” (her words)

They have given her anti-depressants, which is definately a good move.

He is also arranging for a visit from an eye specialist who will try and assess why her right eyes isn’t working properly. Some suggestions he came up with are :-

  • Eyes get lazy when people are sedated for long periods. Fixes itself
  • Detached Retina. May be fixable
  • Stroke related. Could fix itself.

Practical Measures
Today, we started to think of practical measures like money. Tony (Jane’s husband) is very kindly going to look into the compensation side of things. For now, we are ok, but in a few months, things will be tricky. Generally, I am a very material person, but I have learned a big lesson from this accident, and that is, the material things count for nothing. The ones you love come top of the list. I don’t really care if we have to liquidise assets to keep things going. The only thing that matters to me is Karen.

Getting Comfy
Karen has GREAT difficulty in getting into a comfy position. 8 out of 10 minutes are spent readjusting various limbs to try and get Karen comfortable. We are now dab hands at moving kp’s body parts without causing pain, but the trickier bit is finding the elusive comfy position. If you ask Karen, how do you want to be (position wise), her reply is ALWAYS “I don’t know !!!!” (various volume levels dependant on how many times you have asked the question).

dp:- Do you want to be on your left side or your right side ?
kp:- I don’t know.

dp:- Let’s do the left side
kp:- Fine !

dp:- Do you want your leg further up.
kp:- I DON’T KNOW !

You get the idea.

So as carers, we have to know what she doesn’t know herself. It’s like a puzzle with the answer sheet missing. So you try various combinations until you hear :-

kp:- I think that’s ok.

2 minutes later, she will be uncomfortable.

And the cycle continues……

Tonight Marie and I were sniggering to each other. After being particularly demanding, Karen came out with :-

kp:- “You’re lucky I am so patient”

Marie left the room where she could develop the snigger into something a bit more laughlike.

We take it on the chin. It’s not so bad when there’s 2 of you. It doesn’t feel as personal.

Mrs 26 beds
Last night, a nurse was very keen to point out how many beds were on the ward and she would get to us in turn. I had asked for Karen to be made comfy I expect. Now fair play to the nurses on the ward, there are only 2 on for 26 patients.

But tonight Mrs 26 beds was at it again. I asked the simple question :-

kp:- “Could you give us some idea what time the tablets were likely to come round, so Karen could know when she could go to sleep ?”
Unnamed Nurse :- “We have 26 beds and only 1 nurse who can give the tablets out”

Well, I had to bite my tongue. If she does it again, I am going to ask for a recount.

New Bed
Karen is on a better bed tonight. It’s a gel-based one that is better for her bruising and wounds.

Can you just….?
We were warned that kp would use emotional blackmail to get family members to do various things for her. Yvonne had a great approach today and she got away with it. She stood no nonsense and kp responded to it. But at the same time, kp needs to be able to vent her frustrations and I think it is going to be Marie and I who cop it.

Tonight I got a very small dose.

It was hometime for me (10.20pm). kp had been given her sleeping tablets. She was talking rubbish (a sure sign that she is knackered). When I told her I was leaving and would be back at 8am, she said “Can you just reposition my legs ?”, “Can you just fill my water up ?”, “Can you watch Big Brother with me ?”, “Can you…….”

I was firm, stood my ground and told her I needed to go home for the dogs and that I would be back first thing in the morning. I know for a fact that as long as I am there, she won’t go to sleep if she can help it. With no visitors, she will.

I left her calm, serene, tired and probably snoring by now !

Have a good sleep kp. See you soon…


. Page Hits View Stats