"My mother and her nosebleeds"
Posted by Pass The Gin (as ),
My mother is 86. For a good part of the last decade she has suffered frequent and unpredictable heavy nosebleeds. Although not pleasant for her or for us (myself and elderly father) to deal with, until this year it was a relatively manageable process. If an ambulance was required, we would be taken to A&E in Ayr, 10 minutes away. Sometimes a follow up visit to Crosshouse (20 miles away) would be necessitated. Again, not ideal but manageable and generally a one-off.
This year however, we have had to deal with an increasing frequency of bleeds and the added difficulty of compulsory attendance at ENT Crosshouse when an ambulance has had to be called. This raises a number of issues - the transportation of an 86 year old lady with the beginnings of Alzheimers and other health issues to what is to her a faraway location.
The process which starts in Crosshouse A&E and has to wait for the OK from ENT five floors above. A space-strapped ENT unit with a broom-cupboard sized waiting room and precious little else space. No offer of even water, regardless of the length of stay. No automatic offer of transportation back to Ayr (I don't drive, my father is 75 and can't cope with a drive out of town and two buses are out of the question for a frail 86 year old. )
On top of this the process is somewhat out of sorts. Every time this happens, on top of trying to staunch the bleed to avoid a hospital visit, or being transported to the most inconvenient place possible I end up having to tell my mother's life story, from beginning to end, in full to yet another paramedic/nurse/doctor/consultant/call handler....if a GP can read notes off a screen, why in this day and age is it not possible for other medical professionals in the same geographical area to be party to the same information?
Please understand I do not intend this as a criticism of the professional, skilled and caring staff that we encounter at every step of the process. In my opinion the process itself stinks. In an information driven society, why do I have to pass on the same information multiple times to different people who process it differently? Why occasionally does communication break down to the point we were forgotten about in Crosshouse A&E on a Sunday after specifically being transported to be seen at ENT? Why is there no consistency of treatment? A doctor with a camera one day, a nurse cauterising hopefully another.
I fortunately have been available to accompany her to Crosshouse every time in the last three months. I work, and it follows I will not always be available. I shudder to think how my parents will navigate this system by themselves - my father doesn't keep the best of health himself, his first language isn't English and has difficulty making himself understood. Left to cope in a large unfamiliar hospital will add to the problems at hand.
To give an example, on the last two visits I had to take Mum from the ward myself at the end of treatment. This is fine for a reasonably robust 49 year old who can push a heavy wheelchair through corridors and lifts and navigate the signage. My father, his hernia, and his limited grasp of English certainly wouldn't cope! I do appreciate that there is only a limited amount of treatment available in regard to my mother's nosebleeds - what I don't understand is why this has to be compounded with an unwieldy process that is in my view punitive and totally unsuitable for an elderly person who lives remotely.