Archive for July, 2005

Day 64 – Friday 1st July – Part One

Good Night’s Sleep.

More positive and talkative kp today I am pleased to be able to report. Back to the usual banter.

Her head was hurting and when I checked the head dressing, it was out of position and very sloughy. So I changed the dressing and made a right pig’s ear of it. Took twice as long as it should have because I hadn’t got all the key stuff to hand. Preparation is the key and I thought dressing packs came with sterile water, but they didn’t. But we got there in the end.

Breakfast consisted of 2 weetabix and she probably had about 1/2 a weetabix.

Bedbath uneventful.

The big news was the morning physio session. We were told they were going to get kp sitting up by herself on the bed with her legs dangling off. kp was very anxious about this and had woken up at 5am worrying about how they were going to do it.

First, they shifted her to a physio bench with a PAT slide. Then one physio gradually lifted her back, while the other 2 held her hips and legs in place. A huge smile came across her face as she started to be sat up and she came out with:-

kp:- wahey !

The smile stayed all the way until she was sitting bolt upright with the head physio supporting her back. Various exercises were then done to get kp to get her balance. They hurt at first, but after a couple of physio tweaks, they were sorted. She had to pat another physio on the back whilst retaining her balance. At first, she was being supported, but by the end of the session, kp was pretty much maintaining her sat up position herself and doing the maneuvre solo. She was rightly well pleased with herself as was the physio. It also didn’t hurt her cocchyx, but instead her bones in her arse (sorry Karen, bottom) were hurting.

Big Success and something which kp is pleased she has tackled and achieved.

Day 64 – Friday 1st July – Part Two

Another sleep-filled afternoon for Karen. The physio came in to do 5 minutes of arm work and plans to do another sitty-up day on Tuesday.

Marie and kp had a few laughs this afternoon while she was awake. At one point, kp was adjusting the position of her bed and went all the way on her back. Marie asked what she was doing and kp said she didn’t know. Marie started laughing, so did kp.

At another point, Marie was doing passive exercises on kp’s arm and kp started rubbing Marie’s finger. Marie started looking intently at her own finger to see what the problem was, couldn’t see anything so asked kp what she was doing.

kp:- I thought I saw a bump ?

There was nothing there. Marie laughed because she was looking so hard at her own finger for something wrong, and kp laughed because she had made Marie look.

Probably not funny when read back in the blog, but funny at the time and when relayed to me.

Generally an uneventful evening. Few dressings changed, catheter issues, and a nurse making kp smile by putting Hawaiin shorts on with her pinny tucked in, leaving the flap out at the back. Very funny at the time, and carried on being funny as she did most of her shift in it. It’s hard asking people about catheter issues when all you can focus on is Hawaiian shorts and a bunny tail flap. Lovely nurses/staff on Ward 22. In fact, Gateshead is one hell of a hospital. I know we had our problems in Ward 3, but this wasn’t down to the quality of the staff (with one exception), it was down to the numbers to patient ration for such a chronic-illness ward.

At 6.45pm :-

kp:- Is it bedtime yet ?

I laughed. She has in her mind that her bedtime is 7pm now. It does tend to work out that by then she is knackered.

dp:- It’s bedtime when you want it to be love ?!

She wanted to go to sleep. Some final reassurance from the nurse that the catheter was working fine, and she went to sleep.

Day 65 – Saturday 2nd July – Part One

When I arrived, bang on 8.30am, kp was looking towards the door.

dp:- Morning Love
kp:- Morning
dp:- Good Night’s Sleep
kp:- Lovely
dp:- Excellent

dp:- Why were you looking towards the door when I came in ?
kp:- I was waiting for you to come in to turn the TV off ?

It was out of reach and every morning it comes on automatically at about 7am to the same channel it was on the previous night. Unfortunately, every morning at that time on BBC2, it’s cartoons, so poor kp had been subjected to 1 hours worth of kids cartoons blaring away in the background. She had asked one of the cleaning ladies to switch it off :-

kp:- Can you switch the TV off for me please ?
Cleaning Lady:- Not really

Apparently, the lady thought better of what she had said and came back a few seconds later and switched it off – but obviously not too well.

kp didn’t feel like the cooked breakfast they do on the weekends, but had a full bowl of rice crispies. Bedbath and change of dressings came next. I even managed to change the sheets at the same time, but was appalled with the outcome. It’s nearly touching the floor one side, and just under kp the other. The sheets even have guide lines on them so you should know where to position them. Better Luck next time dp. Changing Sheets is a woman’s job and duty anyway ! (dp ducks!)

We both then had a snooze for an hour until Yvonne arrived. Marie is on a well-deserved day off. All morning I had been psyching kp up to get into the bedchair for her lunch and maybe a little trip outside ‘cos the weather is nice.

In walks Yvonne :-

Yvonne:- Eeee, the weather is awful out there. Cold, Damp and loads of Sea Fret.

DOH !!!!

kp stayed in the bed for lunch. I should have warned Yvonne – my bad.

I left kp and Yvonne watching Wimbledon (Ladies’ Final day)

Day 65 – Saturday 2nd July – Part Two

kp had fallen asleep in the company of Yvonne and Adele while watching the Wimbledon Ladies Final. She had only eaten a little soup for lunch.

Apparently, she woke up a couple of times in the afternoon and said “Is David here yet ?”. “No” was the reply at which she nodded off again. Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh :-)

When I arrived for the evening shift, she became a bit more perkier. I don’t think it’s anything to do with me or the company, it’s just she is now used to an active morning, a snoozy afternoon, a bit energy for early evening and then zonked. And it was the same tonight.

She perked up to see some carpet samples I had brought in. And the quiz that Ronnie did, cheered her up and she did her usual singing along to the tunes, which was very funny. But Ronnie, it was quite hard and our score will not be too high. I say our score, I can honestly say that my contribution was NIL ! I need some songs from my teens (90′s).

She wants another go in the morning before I declare our answers.

She could sing a lot of the songs, but couldn’t pin down the band/artist name bit for quite a lot of them. Maybe tomorrow.

We had some good laughs tonight. I was checking kp’s wound at the top of her bum and finished by kissing her bum cheek. The conversation went something like this :-

dp:- You see, you don’t get that kind of care from the nurses here do you ?
kp:- I am glad I don’t !

kp laughed. I laughed at kp laughing.

That’s about it. I have the morning off tomorrow – yay. kp is fending for herself. Actually she has arranged for two of her nurse bezzas to wash her hair. If she is in top form, no doubt she will have managed to wangle a full wash-and-dry, tinting, blue rinse, manicure, pedicure and other girly things from them. We will see !

Day 66 – Sunday 3rd July 2005

Before I forget, kp has submitted her quiz entry Ronnie. Clicking Here should get you to the answer.

Today has been an eventful day on the whole. Before Marie arrived there had been a fire alarm incident on the ward with a smell of burning. The Fire Brigade were called and ALL beds were evacuated very quickly. This kind of thing has happened before while kp was in the Intensive Care Unit, but the beds weren’t moved, presumably because the movement risk outweighed the chance of burning to death. But today, they were all moved out and it was quite an exercise, one which kp told me they did very efficiently and quickly.

kp said she was sat outside in her bed opposite from a woman who was halfway through her breakfast. She had scrambled eggs all down her apron.

Woman in Apron :- I was in the middle of my breakfast.
kp:- I know, I can see you were having scrambled eggs. You can finish them off when you get back upto the ward.

When kp relayed this to me, mum and dad, we were in stitches.

The Fire Brigade gave the all clear and every bed was moved back. 30 minutes later, exactly the same thing happened again. They put it down to a faulty sensor in the sluice area and it got changed.

This meant the whole day was running late. kp didn’t get her hair washed by the 2 nurses, instead Marie did it as best she could with a flannel.

Her morning tablets, normally taken about 9am, were taken about 12pm.

Today was Wimbledon’s Mens Finals.

A bit of a one-sided match, but kp managed to stay awake through most of it.

Her first visitors were due at 5pm. At about 4.45pm, I had a wave of extreme tiredness come over me, and I just had to have a snooze. I went in kp’s toilet (huge), laid out her bedchair and was out like a light. I didn’t wake up until the last 5 minutes of Bernard, Lilly and Gillian’s visit. Nothing personal !!! They had a good chat with kp who was in top form. They brought with them some photos of Karen as a teenager. Wow !!!! We are talking fashion !!! I will post to the blog over the next few days.

Then my mum and dad came. They could see a big difference in just a week. kp was much perkier this week having got over the infection that she was just starting at their last visit.

Mum told Karen that one of her friends (Betina) who is a nail technician by trade had said that when Karen is better, she would come up and give her a manicure. kp couldn’t believe that she would come all this way to do that for her. Thanks Betina !!

A funny incident to relate :-

kp :- So how is your company doing John ?
John :- Very well at the moment. We have just taken an order for air dryers…….

Dad sells lorry components and an air dryer is used in lorry brakes.

The conversation veered away from dad’s business for a few minutes and then out of the blue :-

kp:- John, why have you started selling Hair Dryers ?

Laughs all round !!

30 minutes after my mum and dad left, I started getting kp ready for bed. As I was doing her final turn to get her in a comfy position, I noticed a LOT of gunk that had gone all the way through her nighty AND sheet onto her gel mattress. Her cheek wound was leaking badly !! It was too much for me to deal with. It needed a nurse’s attention as there was so much exudate.

When the nurse came, she took the dressing off. It had only been changed that morning. Her wound was constantly oozing sluff and there was also what appeared to be some string hanging out of the wound. It was saying “Pull me out” to me, but the first nurse quite rightly said that we shouldn’t pull it out until we know what it is. The first nurse pressed over the wound and it just wouldn’t stop oozing sluff. She also didn’t know what this string stuff was. We both had a bit of a guess, but she decided to call the Sister. The Sister had a few educated guesses, and decided to call the Doctor. The Doctor referred it to the Orthopedic Doctor who pulled it out and came to the conclusion that it was hardened sluff. This whole investigation took place over 3 hours given that it is Sunday and the doctors are hard to come by.

It is likely that kp has another infection in this area and tomorrow they will take bloods to establish what the infection is, so they can treat it accordingly.

kp was knackered by such an eventful day and will definately sleep like a log.

Day 67 – Monday 4th July 2005 – Part One

Cracking Night Sleep last night. She said she slept from the last phone call she made to me (about 10pm) all the way through until 7.30am. Wahey !

She ate all her breakfast.

The bedbath was a bit of a let-down really, as I haven’t cracked changing the sheets on my own. But I’ll get there.

Unfortunately, the bedchair seems to be broken. I spent about 15 minutes trying to fix it while kp snoozed and then had to give in and report it broken. A nurse (Mr Vol au Vents) came over from Intensive Care to have a look but he came to the same conclusion.

Fingers crossed that we can get a replacement asap. kp was delighted it was broken as it meant she doesn’t have to go in the chair for lunchtimes. I am devastated as it means I can’t have a really good snooze.

We both had a bit of a snooze in the end and then the physios arrived. The senior physio worked on kp’s weak arm/hand, doing lots of exercises and then finished off by asking kp to move her hand in various ways. She can

  • clench her fingers on request
  • unclench them (but not quite as well as clenching them)
  • bend her thumb at BOTH joints independently (which is good)
  • identify which fingers he was bending
  • identify if they were in a bent or straight position when asked.

He didn’t ask her to move her arm at all on this occasion. But fingers crossed that this will come in time.

The senior physio then had to leave and the other physio worked on loosening up kp’s legs. After about 10 minutes of leg work, the physio moved kp’s right leg to a particularly high position and kp couldn’t help but fart.

We all laughed (including kp)

kp :- Sorry
Physio :- Would you like one lump or two with that ?

More laughter.

dp:- That’s going in the blog.

During the physio, the orthopedic registrar had come up to have a look at kp’s bottom cheek wound that had the problems the previous night. So everything stopped as the physio and nurses moved kp so he could get a better look.

The nurse took the dressing off and the registrar examined the wound and pushed the outsides of it, and loads of the gunk oozed out. He did this for about a minute until no more exudate came out.

kp:- Is there lots coming out ?
nurse:- Not as much as last night
nurse:- But, it’s better out than in.
Physio:- That’s right isn’t it Karen (referring to the farting episode).

kp got it instantly. It took me about 10 seconds to realise the humour. Doh !

The registrar is arranging for an x-ray to look at the wound from a different angle. Don’t think it’s anything to worry about.

Should know more later

Day 67 – Monday 4th July 2005 – Part Two

kp had her X-ray this afternoon. The X-ray department wanted kp to go down to them, but the nurses were great and very persuasive at getting them to come to her with a portable x-ray machine.

The results are unknown yet. I think there is a slight chance kp may need a bit more surgery on this wound. I think I overheard the nurses discussing it and they may need to WIDEN the wound in order to encourage it to heal. It’s as if it has settled at the size of hole it is (about 1cm). It’s quite deep also. I have avoided the temptation of sticking a pencil down, or dropping a coin and waiting for the bang when it hits the bottom.

Foodwise – kp has done marvellously today. 9 1/2 out of 10. All breakfast, all lunch, half a dinner which I wouldn’t have touched and then had 2 slices of fruit loaf with butter and a cup of tea. Very pleased with that !

The bedchair has ceased to be. It is an ex-bedchair. The company who makes them has gone bust.So, the sister is trying to find the right kind of bedchair for kp and will order one from a different supplier. Hope it comes soon, as I miss wheeling kp outside and yes, I miss my nice snoozes. I hope the new chair has lots of buttons with some go-fast fire stripes.

Really cracking night tonight also. kp and I had some real good conversations about the future, coming home, practicalities and we both benefited from having a bit of private time where neither of us was too tired to talk. It was great !

She has generally had a real good day today. So visitors-wise, we are back on for anyone who wants to visit Karen. To arrange a date/time, please call Marie on 01642-284812 or 07961-346149. Thanks !

Day 68 – Tuesday 5th July – Part One

Action Packed Day – I just hope I can remember it all.

Good Night’s Sleep followed by a full breakfast.

Bedbath, Sheet Change, Dressings Change done nearly perfectly apart from :-

  • One moment where I tried to move a sheet and caused kp a lot of pain on her head. I would have been hit had I been on the side with the good arm. Must remember this for whenever we have an argument – always be on her left side.
  • Ripped part of kp’s nightie as I tried to pull it from beneath her. I actually don’t have a problem with this as it is only the frilly edges that make the ripping noise (not the nightie itself, which is fine). They shouldn’t make nighties that can’t be pulled from underneath someone without ripping. Simple !

We had about an hour’s worth of snooze and at about 11am, the 3 amigos arrived (Physios). Today Karen was going to do her sitty up maneuvre, which she was a bit worried about as she didn’t want to do any worse than the last time, i.e. she wanted to see an improvement.

Well, she has improved. It was wonderful, really wonderful, to see Karen’s BEAMING smile as, after 10 minutes worth of exercises to make her supple, kp could sit in the upright position unaided !!! By that, I mean they put her in that position and then the main physio just kept one finger pushed in her back, so he could detect if she was losing balance. She was thrilled. I was thrilled. All the time, kp was looking down at the floor to keep her balance or if she dared, straight ahead. So then, the main physio asked her to look at me (I was 90′ to her left), and slowly and surely she turned her head (maintaining her balance) until she was nearly looking at me. She did the same maneuvre to her right and eventually could turn her head all the way to me. She had such a big smile on.

Now, could it get any better than that ? You better believe it !! Because Karen’s chair is kaput, they had been given the go-ahead to try the hoist. It was felt her pelvis/hips would handle that ok by the orthopods. If kp can manage the hoist, she can have a real bath, real shower, and sit in a real chair !!!! So we wheeled her bed into the ward bathroom as her room doesn’t have a hoist in. And within minutes, this was the spectacle :-

Minutes later :-

The hoist has opened up lots of possibilities for Karen whilst on the ward, so we are really looking forward to them !!

Some rooms have a hoist built-in, some don’t. Karen’s doesn’t. But, within 30 minutes of kp managing the hoist ok, we had a new room for Karen allocated. It’s private (again!), own bathroom, and has a hoist built-in. She is moving this afternoon. For visitors, it is a lot closer to the main door. It is the room next to the nurses station, so she should be able to get all the gossip from the nurses’ chatter. If she can’t hear them, she’ll no doubt shout for them to speak up a bit !!

That’s all for now….oh, one more thing !

Marie and I saw kp’s x-ray of her bottom part of her torso. It is amazing to see all the screws she has and the plates. I got the ok to take a photo, but no sooner had I got the camera out, the doctor had put it away !! :-(

She has 2 long screws in either side of each hip. And a plate running from one side of her pelvis to the other. It looks like a lot of rings linked together (more than a flat plate) and from this plate are about 12 screws heading downwards into the pelvis. Amazing !

That really is all for now, apart from a treat for bloggers (courtesy of Gillian (from the Shetlands) who visited on Sunday). Here are some photos she brought of Karen and other family members from earlier years !!

When Flares were in !

Quite a few of the family plus kp

Marie already giving kp a hard time !

Day 68 – Tuesday 5th July – Part One – Addendum

Forgot to say the bed move is happening this afternoon. Spare a thought for Marie putting up 110+ cards on kp’s new walls.

Also….I received a very special surprise for Karen this afternoon. All being well, I will post more about this tonight.


Day 68 – Tuesday 5th July – Part Two

Karen is now happily in Room 2 on Ward 22. It is next to the kitchen and the nurses’ station and is a much more central location ! Lots more activity, but still quiet if the door is shut.

The orthopod doctor has analysed the x-rays and to stop the bum cheek wound healing he has advised a certain type of dressing to be applied to kp’s wound. If you imagine the wound to be one that you could stick your finger into, out of which comes loads of gunk, you wouldn’t be too far wrong. The dressing that has been applied is like loft insulation in rope format, and this has been inserted into kp’s wound to stop it healing up, allowing the gunk to flow out. The rope comes quite a bit out of kp, and it looks like a bit of touchpaper on a firework. But apparently, we are not supposed to light it, tempting though it may be.

The new room feels like home already. Marie has put all the cards up and everything is in the same relative position as the last room, which is great, as I get very easily disoriented. Until you look outside the room, you wouldn’t know it’s a different room.

kp was kn-ckered tonight. She had been down for a number of different x-rays. These had been ordered by the orthogod that is Mr Cross (from Sunderland). Lots of different and painful angled x-rays to ascertain how well kp is healing. Any movement on kp tonight was painful. I am pleased that her usual comfy position is still comfy so she should sleep ok.

The exciting news of the day is that I received a parcel at home tonight that contained a letter and cd from David Lodge. He is the chap that bought the Acorn Antiques tickets off ebay and sent an Acorn Antiques programme. He also said he would be sending something else that might cheer kp up, knowing she likes the musical Les Miserables. Well, he came up trumps and we are very grateful for his efforts and those of his Amateur Dramatic thespian friends. They had sent a specially compiled cd for Karen consisting of :-

A nice intro
A Les Miserables special
A “thousand years” lovely song (that suits mine and kp’s situation beautifully) and
“Over the Rainbow” which Karen really likes.

All of the above are SUCH a kind gesture and we both REALLY enjoyed hearing all your efforts. When I played them to Karen, we both had tears in our eyes at different points. We both laughed at the “Les Mis” twist, but felt a great deal of love when listening to the “thousand years” song.

Thank you SO much David, Gary, Gina and Mike !!!! You have brought a great deal of joy to us both !!!

Here is David’s Letter :-

Here are the songs they sent on the cd. Enjoy !
The Intro on the CD
The Les Miserables Twist
The Poignant Song
Over the Rainbow

Karen was fast asleep by 6.45pm tonight after a very eventful day.

Day 69 – Wednesday 6th July – Part One

Good Night’s Sleep. Didn’t wake up until I arrived in the morning.

Within moments of waking, she felt the aches and pains resulting from the x-ray moves yesterday. They stayed with her all morning. Any movement caused some pain/discomfort. I tried to persuade kp to have her first full real bath, but she wanted to be on top form so she could enjoy it, which is understandable so that will be another day.

Bedbath and Snooze for us both until physios arrived. Use of the hoist to get kp in a chair is much easier for all concerned including Karen.

The physio was hard given her aches and pains but she put on a good show.

Her left shoulder is very stiff which in turn restricts the amount of movement she can do in her left arm and moving her head. So she has to practice looking left and right every so often to try and loosen it up.

One of the doctors came to see if Karen wanted any more pain medication to alleviate some of the pain, but kp said she was ok. He also mentioned that Dr Cross (Sunderland back consultant) will be coming tomorrow to check kp over.


Day 69 – Wednesday 6th July – Part Two

kp slept a good part of the afternoon leaving Marie in crossword land.

The Prof (in charge of the whole Stroke Department) popped in to see how kp was progressing. He had big smiles and was very pleased with kp’s progress, saying he had had good reports from various people which is great to hear. He said that he felt kp was over half the way there. At this, kp’s eyes lit up. I think she thought he meant timewise rather than medical-wise.

kp ate well today generally. Still a few bowel issues which she has been prescribed an anti-biotic and “Ya” for. “Ya” is what is written down on Karen’s prescrption sheet and is short for something else. My turn to set the quiz Ronnie. All answers gratefully received. The winner of the “What is Ya short for ?” quiz receives absolutely nothing apart from a bit of blogcred. You will have heard of it. kp had some “Ya” tonight and didn’t like it but I think she will persevere.

Uneventful night with kp still suffering from aches and pains but less than this morning, so with a bit of luck, they will have gone tomorrow.

Day 70 – Thursday 7th July – Part One

Karen hadn’t had a good night sleep due to a combination of frequent bowel movements and an inability to get comfy.

This morning was not a good morning for kp. One of the night staff hadn’t helped matters by leaving kp feeling like she was a burden.

kp:- “Can I be moved onto my back ?”
NightStaff Member :- “You’ve just been moved 10 minutes ago”

I suggested discussing this with the Ward Sister, but kp felt that the night staffmember concerned wasn’t the kind of person who would respond well to criticism. Instead Karen is going to approach a member of the night staff she gets on well with and see if she can solve the problem in a round about way.

She had a good breakfast. I read out various blog comments and a letter from my Auntie Sue, which kp appreciated. In the letter Auntie Sue mentioned how much she would like to meet Mrs Overall. We know what you mean Auntie Sue, we are very fond of her also !! She is a little eccentric but VERY lovable.

Lots of tears this morning. I think the night incidents left Karen very aware of how reliant she is on others and brought home how disabled she is at the moment.

kp:- “I just want to be able to turn myself in my bed, walk to the loo…”
She then looked at a photo of herself, myself and our niece Sophie on the hospital wall
kp:- “At least on that photo I was just overweight…..”

For the first time she felt angry towards the driver of the offending vehicle.

The physio came in in the middle of the tears to measure kp up for a wheelchair. She was very considerate and offered to come back at a better time, but I asked her what she wanted. When she told kp :-

kp (in tears) :- I don’t want to be in a wheelchair, I want to walk !!

It’s hard in the blog to get across how down she felt this morning and how upset she was. I complimented her on how well she is doing and the fact that it was amazing that she hadn’t had more moments like this. But nothing I could say could really help. She needs to cry sometimes and readjust her thoughts as to her predicament and today was one of those days.

She instructed me to continue with the bedbath as per usual which I did, but it was quite sad to see her washing her face, cleaning her teeth and crying at the same time.

By the time the bedbath had finished, she had stopped crying and was ready for a snooze.

But no time for a snooze, one of the nurses came in to redress some wounds. Then the doctor to discuss Karen’s pain medication which kp had requested be upped. He also gave her a good counselling session about her situation. He’s great this Doctor by the way, very naturally concerned about his patients. He asked if she wanted to thump anyone. He was standing on karen’s weak arm side, I was standing by the possible thumping arm and told the Doctor this. It got a smile from kp.

The Doctor also said at one point :-

Doctor :- “You know Karen, you also have Yewt on your side” (Youth)

Nothing was said about this at the time, but afterwards, I was giving kp a pepp talk and threw in :-

“And you also have Yewt on your side”

Smile No. 2 in the bag !

No lunch for kp. She really wasn’t in the mood for it. In fact she only stayed in the chair for 30 minutes. I didn’t argue with her on either point ‘cos I knew where she was psychologically at that moment.

I hoisted her back into bed and got her comfy and she was out like a light.

The consultant came not long after and agreed about upping the Fentanol Patch to 75mg to ease the pain.

This afternoon or this evening, Mr Cross and Mr Nanu (from Sunderland) should be coming over to check kp’s pelvic progress. This should be interesting.

Day 70 – Thursday 7th July – Part Two

kp had fallen asleep immediately on my departure and hadn’t woke up until 5 minutes after my return. Poor Marie Again !!!

We have got to the bottom of why kp has had a bad couple of days. It is because someone had forgot to change kp’s Fentanol Patch. This is the morphine-based patch that gives constant pain relief. Coincidentally yesterday, I had asked kp if they had changed it recently and she said they had, but I suspect for kp it is very hard to keep track of time and every 3 days is a hard period of time to keep track of. Anyway it has been changed now, and she seemed to feel the benefit later tonight. The Sister was very apologetic about it, but we made it clear we understand that mistakes will happen from time to time.

Mr Cross came tonight. He was very very nice and frank. Here are the facts as I can recall them :-

  • kp will need another operation to the back pin site (the deep one) to clear out the gunk and check all is ok. It is a minor op and can be done at gateshead.
  • kp won’t be able to walk for another 6 weeks as the pelvis isn’t sufficiently healed, but he has given the ok for her to be able to stand for a few seconds at a time.
  • He said it is important to get kp playing more of an important role in moving from the bed to the chair. They are going to get a banana board (?!) and try to get her to move herself.
  • We mentioned the problems with kp sitting up for more than an hour at a time. He told us how normal this was for pelvic op people and that the medium term fix was extra padding (pillows etc)
  • He said as soon as kp has mastered the banana slide, she could go home. But then the sister came in and was a little more pragmatic and said although she COULD go home, it would be better for her to stay here so they can provide the rehabilitation that she needed. kp was ok with this.
  • He got kp to lift her legs one by one and told the Sister that they need to be stronger and suggested exercise with sandbags on her feet to build strength.

That’s all I can recall. He was great and we felt positive after he left.

Tommy and Eileen (our neighbours) visited again tonight. I was concerned this morning that kp wouldn’t have the energy for visitors and even suggested postponing them given her state at the time, but kp wouldn’t have any of it, and wanted the visit to go ahead. It was a good decision as she really enjoyed their company.

After that, we watched the telly for a bit, seeing the death toll of the London Transit bombings rise to 37, and then I heard snoring.

See you in the morning love.


Day 70 – Thursday 7th July – Part Two – Addendum

Important bit of additional news I have forgot to add in !!

Karen has MRSA in her bottom cheek pin wound (the one that’s oozeing a lot). Nothing to worry about at the moment. I don’t think it is anything to worry about unless it gets into the bloodstream. Betina (friend of my mum) has provided multiple links to creams that combat MRSA, but unfortunately we can’t apply them to wounds.

Day 71 – Friday 8th July – Part One

Good Night’s Sleep and Good Breakfast. The pain patch seems to have got things heading in the right direction again.

Snooze after breakfast before bedbath. She didn’t want a full bath, but she is going for that tomorrow – yay !

After the bedbath, we both had a sleep until the physios came. It was a beautiful morning outside so I was keen to get kp out for some fresh air. The wheelchair that has been ordered for her hasn’t arrived, so I purloined one from the corridors and she had her physio session in that.

Lunch followed physio and then we went outside. It was lovely, but by this stage, she had nearly been an hour in the chair and was aching in her cocchyx.

Back to the room and a hoist ride to the bed. Quite an uneventful morning really.

Day 71 – Friday 8th July – Part Two

It seems like the bowel issue may be resolving itself according to Marie at handover.

kp was awake a good part of the afternoon which was nice for Marie.

It was a lovely day today. Hot in the sunny, but cool in the shade, so I thought I would have a stab at getting kp in the wheelchair and getting her outside. She wasn’t keen but knew she should. I could have persuaded her but didn’t want to pressurise her too much. We left it up to the toss of a coin.

dp:- Heads or Tails
kp:- Tails
It was Heads

We both looked at each other clueless. Unfortunately, we hadn’t agreed what heads or tails meant, so we had to flick again. Doh !

She said Tails again and it was Tails which meant she could choose. She opted for “no chair”, but promised she would do it on an evening over the weekend. I am happy with that.

The nurse came in and gave her nightly anti-blood clogging injection. I asked her if I could do that (it’s only in the stomach, not a vein or anything) and to my surprise she said yes. Excellent. I am finding it very rewarding caring for kp. The more I do, the better I feel. Given half the chance I would do this clean-up operation on kp’s pin-hole site. I could bring some hose in from home, turn the tap on and give it a good flush out. Nay problem.

She was very tired tonight and after a bit of pizza for tea was ready for a “comfy position”. And not long after, she was asleep.

Day 71 – Friday 8th July – Part Two – Addendum

Just had a phonecall from kp.

The consultant has been to see her to say they are operating on Monday morning to sort out the wound at the back. Apparently, there is an abscess somewhere in there and it needs a good clean out. kp isn’t looking forward to it, but she understands it’s one of those things that needs to be done.

Day 72 – Saturday 9th July – Part One

Let’s assume a good night’s sleep from now on and eating meals fine unless stated otherwise.

Arrived early today due to more relaxed traffic, but it was hard to wake kp today. She carried on in half-awake, half-asleep mode for 25 minutes.

Bath day today. What a success !!!!!!!!!!!! She loved it. As well as being lovely and warm and a deep bath to get a really good soak, it gives kp a lighter sense of body weight which when you have sore areas must feel great.

So much better than a bedbath, and I think it will be the new high point of the day, after visitors of course !! ;-)

Shortly after the bath, she wanted to get into the chair and do her exercises, and then we had some lovely time outside. What a beautiful morning and in the shade it was just the perfect temperature. We stayed out there about 15-20 mins and before it started hurting we went back – the idea being we are going to do the same thing again tonight. Small but often. Yvonne is on afternoon shift with Marie, Adele and Abbie visiting.

Day 72 – Saturday 9th July – Part Two

Active afternoon with all the visitors. Abbie (8 year old great-niece) did her usual pampering of kp, which she really appreciated. She had built a rocket at the Life Centre (Newcastle) which she brought in for kp. It got Abbie into the final round of a competition.

Marie had a very bright blouse on tonight. Suffice to say, it was that bright and patterned, kp could see it with her bad eye, and when I close my eyes I can still see it.

kp + I went outside for a bit of fresh air this evening. She hadn’t slept much in the afternoon and she was falling asleep outside, but well done for going out love !

She was very nervous about her operation tomorrow until I explained that it wasn’t tomorrow, but Monday.

kp:- Oh, that’s not so bad then !

Fast asleep by 7.15pm

Day 73 – Sunday 10th July – Part One

I didn’t go in until 9.30am allowing kp to fend for herself on the breakfast front. It was possibly not the best idea as she overturned her bowl of rice crispies. The nurses were clearing the debris away as I arrived and rather than put kp through bed moves twice, we went straight into the bath. Just as enjoyable as the first one.

No sooner out of the bath we were in the wheelchair heading outside for some fresh air and some exercises. kp did her head moves, her leg stretches, and I tried to loosen her left arm up a bit as it was very stiff, but she doesn’t like me doing it because one wrong move and it’s very painful. So I yanked it around a bit, and then we just enjoyed the fresh, but humid air. Then Marie and Michelle arrived for the afternoon shift.

We had a surprise visitor of Debs who had been picking some Strawberries and just popped in to drop them off. This got some funny looks from the staff, as they don’t like visitors before 2pm without prior arrangement and we had 3 extra. The nurse kindly let us off this one time, but we will make an effort to ensure there is only 1 person attending Karen outside of visiting hours. The strawberries were beautiful and it was great to see Debs. I feel sure they will have had an afternoon of good crack.

Day 73 – Sunday 10th July – Part Two

kp hardly slept all afternoon because she was having so much fun with Marie and Michelle. They helped take her mind of her pending operation tomorrow which she had been getting anxious about.

Lots of belly laughs all round. Marie had been coordinating a kp move up the bed with Michelle. One person grabs the sheets on one side of kp and the other grabs the other side’s sheets and together you pull the sheets up the bed. This needs to be coordinated or it doesn’t work, so of course, we use the usual “On 3, 1……….2………..3″ and then you both move together.

Well, Marie had problems with this tonight and in fact, sporadically has had such problems in the past. The key to doing a move with Marie is knowing that 3 isn’t always 3. It’s sometimes 1 or 2.

Needless to say, Marie called :-

Marie :- “1…………….”
Marie tries to pull kp up the bed and whilst she tries carries on counting
Marie :- “2………3….”

Michelle started laughing, Marie was in stitches and kp did some good belly laughs.

kp was knackered tonight after all the hilarity and didn’t feel up to an evening trip for some fresh air.

By 6.20pm she was fast asleep.

Premed for the op is about 7.30am, and she goes from the ward at 8.15am. Fingers crossed she isn’t in too much pain when she comes out.

Day 73 – Sunday 10th July – Part Two – Addendum

Bit confused. Just had a call from Marie. She was present when the anaesthetist came round to talk to Karen. One of the things she said in passing, was that Karen’s operation tomorrow was going to be quite an extensive one. Marie didn’t want to ask her what she meant by that while Karen was present, as she is anxious enough.

Our understanding was is was just going to be a bit of a cleanout of an infected wound.

We are both aware that kp has MRSA in the infected wound and that it can be fatal if it gets in the bloodstream. Had a telephone conversation just now with the Sister and she has put my mind at risk. It IS just a cleanout and a removal of the abscess. Very little risk of MRSA getting into bloodstream as they will put AntiBiotic Beads (!?) in the wound. So, I feel better.

Day 74 – Monday 11th July 2005 – Part One

kp didn’t go down to the Operating Theatre until 10.38am. You may think she would have been anxious waiting from 8.15am for over 2 hours, but she was very calm despite having no pre-med. In fact, so calm, she spent most of the 2 hours asleep.

The op went fine as far as we know. We may know more detail when the surgeon comes round to check on kp. The most I could glean was that she has had the wound widened and a drain fitted to drain the gunk out. I think she may need a further op in a few days to remove the drain.

When she came back she was quite lucid, but quite tired, so I just let her sleep. She was on Oxygen and a drip, but within an hour she was off the Oxygen and I suspect the same will be true of the drip by the time I return tonight.

Only funny moment today was when the nurse came (after the op) to check her blood pressure. kp is used to raising her left arm as they use this arm (‘cos the stroke one is more cumbersome to get the cuff on).

Nurse :- I am going to put the cuff on your left arm.
kp lifts her right arm.
dp:- No, you’re ok love, she is putting it on the other arm.
kp lowers her right arm and then
kp raises her right arm again

This occurred twice !

I think she was a little confused with the anaesthetic drugs wearing off.

Day 74 – Monday 11th July 2005 – Part Two

Got a phonecall from Marie at about 4.45pm whilst I was getting ready to go into the hospital. kp had had a massive shaking attack and had a temperature of 38.6′C and low blood pressure. Yikes ! “Was this the onset of MRSA” was my first thoughts !

When I arrived at the hospital, I had a chat with the Doctor who said kp had a “Sea Were Infection”. I didn’t understand at all and had to ask a few times for a repetition. The Doctor concerned is awesome and we are his biggest fans, but his accent means V’s are pronounced as W’s. I realised he was saying kp had a severe infection. She looked clammy and pale and she couldn’t be bothered with anything.

The doctor went on to say that kp had had a “Rigor Attack” (excuse me the spelling if that’s wrong), but that is what the shakes were, low blood pressure, high temperature and that there is the possibility that the infection could be MRSA (“which can be a deadly infection” (were his words)). So, to be on the safe side, he had prescribed the 2 drugs that combat it, both antibiotics. I was told the names but let’s just say gobbledegook1 and gobbledegook2, that’s not far off ! He also advised that the bed be tilted so her head was lower than her body. Not very nice for kp, but that’s what the doctor ordered.

Of all nights to have lots of visitors, this was the one that we had picked for my mum and dad, Jane (back from Thailand, land of Lady Boys), Michelle, Marie and Me to be present at the same time. It was a bit overpowering for kp in her state, so Dad, Marie and Michelle took it in turns to wait outside the room. But, despite the infection, kp was won round by her visitors and perked up quite considerably by the time they left. We had some laughs, but I could tell it took a bit of a toll on kp when everyone left. It was a good tonic, but she had drank enough of the tonic.

When her obs were taken again, she had a normal(ish) blood pressure, good temperature and looked much healthier than when I first arrived. Blood samples were taken earlier in the evening and preliminary results were back, indicating that kp does indeed have an infection, but the nurse concerned didn’t seem too worried about it. It will be a couple of days before we know if it is MRSA or not. The antibiotics she is on kill off bad bacteria but they also kill off good bacteria, which means that kp will probably have another bout of Clostridium Difficile (Clos Diff) which isn’t pleasant, but is preferable to MRSA.

So, kp is much better now than she was earlier this afternoon. Time will tell what kind of infection she has. We are hoping it’s not MRSA. If tonight is anything to go by (the last part of tonight), she has knocked the worst of it on its head. Fingers crossed !

Day 75 – Tuesday 12th July – Part One

kp hadn’t had the best of nights. She couldn’t have breakfast because she couldn’t sit upright as they wanted her head lower than the rest of her body to get her blood pressure (78 over 45) right again.

They gave her quite a few pints of liquid intravenously this morning. Probably about 4 pints over a period of 2 hours and that helped with the blood pressure and kp was able to sit up for 20 mins or so and have some tea and toast.

She was a bit confused today (and last night also). She didn’t think she was in her room. When I walked into her toilet, she thought I had gone outside – things like that. No doubt down to the infection/low blood pressure.

Lots of sleep also, which suited me as today I was exhausted, to the point she nearly had to shout me to get me to move her legs I was so zonked. Will fix that this afternoon.

Day 75 – Tuesday 12th July – Part Two

Apparently, Marie had some crack with kp in the afternoon before she landed back into snoozeland. The afternoon was not without glitches however. The venflon thing which they put drugs into kp with intravenously had “tissued”, which basically means passing any fluids into kp this way is painful for her. When this happens, they have to resite it. Well, kp has no veins FULL STOP. They do well to find them anywhere and she is notoriously difficult to tap into.

The Doctor tried his best to find a vein in the arm, but couldn’t so had to resort to a foot which is more painful. kp knew this and bribed the Doctor and the Nurse with chocolates to keep the pain to a minimum. The Doctor and Nurse scoffed the chocolates BEFORE they did the maneuvre. Suffice to say, it took 4 attempts to seat the venflon.

kp:- Owwwww, Owwwww, Owwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!
kp:- Marie, Get that chocolate out of the nurse now.

Everyone laughed.

Lots of bowel issues this afternoon also.

The consultant came to see Karen tonight. After checking various things through with her, I asked if kp could see her pelvic x-ray. I had seen them, but hadn’t managed to get kp to see them. He brought them in and kp was amazed to see all the screws and plates which show up so brightly on the dark x-ray. He then asked kp if she would like to see her brain scan. This was very interesting. He highlighted parts of the scan to us, showing us wide areas of dark on the right hand side of the brain. This was the part of the brain affected by the stroke. I know now what they mean by a wide area stroke. It wasn’t isolated to a certain part of the brain. You could see it across a lot of the right hand side.

Lovely chap and very helpful. We complimented him on the staff and care we had received. It really has been excellent !

All of the above left kp exhausted tonight and couple that with the fact she is very weak at the moment, she just wanted a comfy position and to go to sleep, which she did.

Day 76 – Wednesday 13th July – Part One

An interrupted night’s sleep ‘cos of bowel issues.

There is a certain patient on the ward who is always up and about and does things like picking up the ward telephone, shuffling through staff and patient’s notes and wandering into peoples rooms. If you say to the lady that she needs to stop something and head back to her room, she invariably does. She is a lovely lady meaning no harm by what she does and well liked on the ward.

Karen told me that in the middle of the night, this lady had come into her room. kp was half asleep at the time. She started playing with karen’s sheets.

kp:- X, you need to go back to your room.
Lady:- Why ?

kp got a little frightened (unnerved is probably a better word, but there was some fear in there) at this as she normally does what you ask of her. kp buzzed the nurses.

kp:- Because I am trying to sleep and you are wanted back in your room.

At this point the nurses came in and ushered the lady back to her room. I think this left kp a little unsettled at the time, but we were smiling about it this morning.

A very tired kp today and basically she just slept all morning having no energy for chat or bedbaths. Lots more bowel issues this morning meaning she again had interrupted sleep.

Fingers crossed for a better afternoon.

Day 76 – Wednesday 13th July – Part Two

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I forgot to mention that the “blood” lady came today to try and take some blood from Karen. She only managed to get a couple of teaspoons, which wasn’t enough.

A hectic afternoon for kp.

kp had a visit from the orthopedic consultant who did the surgery on Monday who assessed kp’s wound and the work he had done to see if it had improved. Unfortunately things have deteriorated. He was hoping to see less infection, but there is more, so kp needs another operation tomorrow. He had hinted that she may need a further op later in the week but not for this reason.

The need to get blood from kp is becoming an issue. Without blood, they can’t deduce what the infection is exactly, and without that knowledge they can’t fire the right missiles at the right bugs.

kp’s main stroke consultant accompanied the orthopedic consultant and after the latter had done his thing, the stroke consultant tried to get some blood from kp. He tried on numerous occasions to get blood but for “humane reasons” (his words) he left it. kp has the smallest veins in the world. We must get that in the Guiness Book of Records !

They still need blood from kp, so I think they are going to fit a central line, probably whilst she is asleep in the operation tomorrow. This is a line that goes into a major vein in the neck, but as regular bloggers may recall from Weeks 1-4, it can take a few hours to find these in karen. So tomorrow is going to be a long day.

kp was mostly ok this afternoon, but is getting more and more confused. We are sure this is because of her temperature, which has been as high as 39′C today. It seems to come down with Paracetamol but when that wears off it shoots up again. She couldn’t understand why Marie was here when she woke up this afternoon and “Where’s David ?”.

kp:- Am I in my room ?
Marie :- Yes
kp:- Are you sure ?
Marie :- Yes, definately your room

When Marie, Jane and Adele left tonight, they all said goodbyes and got hugs etc. 5 minutes after they had left, kp started a conversation about which I can’t recall, but I thought it was a bit of a strange conversation to have with me. And after a long monologue, she said

kp:- Don’t you think Marie ?
dp:- Marie’s gone love, she went a while ago.

Another strange thing tonight was kp’s eyes went to sleep, but she was awake. Let me try and explain. Her eyes were doing the Rapid Eye Movement associated with dreaming. Her eyelids were sometimes a bit open, sometimes closed (which is typical of kp’s sleep at the moment), so I could see them going from left to right, up and down etc. But she was holding my hand and we were doing Morse Code to each other with our hands. She would squeeze my hand twice, I would do the same back and things like that. Very strange !

The last thing she said to me tonight was

kp:- Thanks for staying with me tonight.

She knows I am not very good at visiting when there is no action going on. Tonight I just held her hand for 90mins. It’s as if she was awake the whole time.

This got to me as I was leaving the hospital and I had a few tears. On the way out, I told one of the nurses that I was concerned about Karen tonight. This is the first time I have had to say such a thing to the staff of Ward 22.

I feel like this moment could be a turning point. I hope (and if I were religious I would pray) it’s a dip in the hilly road kp has been battling so well, but I fear that it may be something more sinister. But, that’s the way I deal with things. I always have the worst in my mind, so I am not too shocked if it comes true. I am sure it’s just a case of me preparing myself for the worst as I have had to do so many times on this journey and kp will show us how much of a star she is.

Love you kp.

Thinking of you.


Day 77 – Thursday 14th July – Part One

Not a bad sleep for kp who woke up a few times with some bowel issues.

Nil by Mouth today of course and a very tired/weak kp who couldn’t be bothered with bedbaths. Not much conversation but we did have a couple of fun moments. I’ll come to them in chronological order.

The visit today was from the anaesthetist. He had come as they really need blood from kp so they can handle her right in the operation among other reasons. He was determined that his hospital-cred wouldn’t suffer and that he would get blood. Apparently, when noone else can get blood, they call these guys. Well after a bit of poking around, his hospital-cred was intact and we had enough blood for the necessary tests.

The next visit was from the orthopedic doctor who had come to get kp’s consent for the op. He also wanted to mark the wound with a marker pen so they could put her on the right side for the consultant. This was funny. He drew a big line on the back of Karen’s Leg from the knee to the buttock with an arrowhead on the end. Both kp and I tittered at this. I was tempted to add on “Wound This Way” for a laugh, but kp wouldn’t have been amused. I managed to get a good look at the wound today. Marie copped a good look yesterday when they undressed it, and her description was spot on – a hole the size of a 50p which is very deep.

Then kp’s nurse came to do the operation checklist, a series of questions that she asks kp.

Nurse :- Have you got any jewellery on ?
kp:- No

Nurse :- When did you last eat ?
kp:- About 4pm yesterday

Nurse :- Have you got any glass eyes ?
kp:- No

Nurse :- Have you removed your false teeth ?
kp:- False Teeth My Arse

We Laughed.

The operation time is unknown. She is on the emergency list, which doesn’t mean she is urgent, rather she has to wait for a free slot and if there isn’t one, she gets it done last thing today.

Marie is keeping me posted. I feel a bit more positive than last night. Fingers crossed this is her last cleanout.

Day 77 – Thursday 14th July – Part One – Addendum

Forgot to recall a conversation with kp this morning. It went something like this :-

To set the scene, kp was on her side looking towards the window, at her last bouquet of flowers.

kp:- Those flowers are looking a bit withered.
dp:- Aye. They need a bit of Marie Magic. I am sure she will do her flower arranging tricks when she gets in
kp:- THAT WON’T HELP. They’re drooping.

10 second pause

kp:- There like me – a bit past it and withered.

Not wanting to dwell on her weakened state, I just said :-

dp:- Silly Egg

(which is a phrase that normally makes kp smile as my mum uses the phrase from time to time).

I promised to bring her in some fresh flowers. Typical bloke needing a very not-so-subtle hint to kick me into action.

kp has just gone into theatre. Should be out by about 6pm. Let’s hope the next few days, kp is feeling a lot better.

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