She sees things that are not there

Share this Post....
Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

Cabrini Hospital, Sunday.
I sit in a chair beside my hospital bed, my foot propped up on a stool, elevated with a pillow. I cannot get access to the Internet because the server for Cabrini hospital cuts out from time to time and now at nine in the morning is one of those times.

I sit opposite a woman named Doreen, the bane of my life since I arrived here, not only my life, but everyone else’s in this ward, staff and patients alike.

A few days ago, Doreen had a hip replacement that went wrong. It popped out and they needed then to repeat it. Two anaesthetics in close succession. Doreen came out of it all with a new hip and a load of dementia.

She talks to herself incessantly, loud angry conversations.
‘Annette,’ she says, ‘Annette get me out of here. Annette, they’re trying to kill me. Annette they want to cut me into pieces.’

My usual supplies of compassion dwindle. Like the other two women in the ward after Doreen has gone on for an hour or two, particularly in the evening, when we are trying to doze off, we start to chastise her. We know it is useless. She cannot understand. Her mind is not her own. But her incessant shouting and calls for help leave us desperate.
‘Why don’t you just shut up,’ Elsie says. But Doreen uses the insult as further fuel for her delusions. We three other women in the ward are part of the conspiracy to keep her imprisoned. We are her jailers. We must be her jailers, Doreen tells us because we refuse to unlock her from her cage. We refuse to unlock the metal bars that imprison her on either side.

We talk to Doreen almost as an instinctive response to a voice that calls out and she responds because ours are voices in her ears, but she does not know to whom she calls.

I watch a new drama unfold as Doreen demands to go to the toilet. The nurse with the aid of a four-pronged stick tries to get her there but Doreen will have none of it.
‘I can’t get my balance.’
The nurse cajoles.
‘You’ve walked all your life,’ she says. But Doreen refuses. Back in bed, they fetch Doreen a pan.

Doreen, according to her daughter, Annette who visits in the afternoon, has been a strong and independent woman all her life.
‘It’s the anaesthetic that’s done this to her. She’s not my mum anymore.’ Annette turns her head to hide her tears.

Elsie is nauseous for some unknown reason. She has broken her pelvis. Her bed is diagonally opposite mine and I cannot avoid the sound even as I can avert my eyes. Two and a half kidney bowls of vomit, later and Elsie slides further down the bed, her face pale with pain and effort.

Between Doreen’s raving and Elsie’s vomiting, I am ready to scream.

Cabrini, Monday morning.

Doreen has just instructed a nurse to make a phone call to her daughter. Her memory absence is selective. She knew the phone number but needed the nurse to dial for her. She also has macular degeneration and spends a great deal of time plucking at imaginary threads in the air. Her fading vision combines with her paranoid delusions. She sees things that are not there.

Elsie and Lois discuss their belief that although Doreen talks about her son John, he does not exist. She has two daughters only, Annette and Trixie.
‘All I need now is to hear that that woman, Julia Gillard, gets up. That’ll fix my day.’
‘You can’t trust the media,’ Lois says.
‘But when it comes to someone stabbing you in the back or robbing a bank, who can you count on?’ Doreen chimes in but the other two ignore her.
I stay out of the conversation. I cannot bear to add politics to the mix.
‘If only they’d say you can stop voting once you reach a certain age,’ Elsie says. She resents compulsory voting. She resents change. She resents the idea that a left leaning government might retain control. It’s enough to set her vomiting all over again.

Each night they put Doreen in the corridor so that we others can sleep. From eleven last night was quiet. Quiet until 5am when they came in as usual to take blood pressure, temperatures and fill out their report forms. A typical hospital story.

Doreen is 82, Elsie is 84, and Lois the oldest at 86 has had a successful hip replacement.

Is this the future to which I might look forward?

‘Touch wood I’ve never had a broken bone,’ Lois says, and nods at my leg in plaster.
‘Neither have I,’ Doreen says, ‘but I’ve had a broken heart.’ It sounds almost poetic until Doreen begins to rant again about how ‘I got kidnapped and they dumped me here.’
‘You’re here so they can heal you,’ Lois says. ‘None of us wants to be here.’
‘They doped me. That’s why I’m like I am,’ Doreen insists.

No Temazapan for me that first night because my doctor, whom I had not yet seen, did not prescribe it. Painkillers only. I am off the painkillers, though they keep offering them to me, but I cannot get to sleep.

The night nurse, who alternates between the strict school madam full of prohibitions and injunctions and a kindlier soul, broke the rules and gave me one on the second night. I had cracked finally. The lights the constant chatter and the noise. I burst into tears, which I tried to hide from her, but even in the half darkness she must have seen.

I can imagine my medical notes – ‘patient distressed and agitated’. If my distress enabled the help I needed to get to sleep that night, so be it. Simply asking did not help.

Last night I felt like one of the three mutineers, determined to stand my ground in my bid for sleep against the constant onslaught of Doreen’s raving.

Cabrini, Monday afternoon.

Annette, Doreen’s daughter, arrives. Once again she goes through the painful process of trying to orientate her mother.
‘I’d rather die,’ Doreen says. ‘Don’t touch me. Who are you?’
‘I’m your daughter, Mum. You’re just floating around in your head, having one of your fuzzies, You’re just not yourself.’

Annette and the nurses encourage Doreen to eat and to walk. She refuses.

Three staff test Doreen’s ability to put her feet on the ground. They confer.

As the day progresses Annette finally begins to get some sense out of her mother. Doreen talks about nightmares that have felt so real she believed them to be true.

Midafternoon and the grey suited doctor arrives.
‘What have you been up to, you naughty girl,’ he says to Doreen. ‘Why didn’t you keep your legs in place? And where did that wedge go to? It’s supposed to stay between your legs.’

He draws the curtains around Doreen, while Annette stands outside. I cannot hear his words to Doreen only mumbles.’ The doctor draws back the curtain and turns to Annette,
‘She’s hallucinating.’ His tone is one that suggests accusation and disbelief.
‘We’ll just have to put the hip back in again.’

The doctor leaves. Annette turns to me.
‘Did you hear that? He blames Mum. As if it’s her fault. And now more surgery. Look what the last two times have done to her.’

It matters not. The doctor orders a psycho-geriatrician. He will keep a check on Doreen’s mind post surgery. He will review her medication.

That night after a third bout of surgery Doreen sleeps in the ward. She is sedated and snores loudly. I use earplugs and beg for yet another sleeping pill. I do not need or use them at home. But hospital care calls for drastic measures.

Cabrini Hospital Tuesday Morning, Home ward bound.

The doctor finally arrived to visit me last night after a two-day wait. He checked the results of my CT scan and has decided to keep the cast on for ten days to give the bone – my tibia – time to heal. If it moves, I will need surgery.

So at the moment I am home here on a couch, trusty laptop on my lap, my leg propped up and hoping that my tibia does not move.

I am free of pain, unless I move in particular ways and free of painkillers with all their side effects. I am more able to think, but I am unable to move with any vigour.

Judging by the experience of the other women in my ward I have little to complain of, except perhaps for what the future might hold should I be lucky enough to live that long.

No doubt this applies to all of us.

Share this Post....
Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

66 Comments on She sees things that are not there

  1. Elizabeth
    September 8, 2010 at 4:01 am (7 years ago)

    Oh, my god. This sounds like some sort of nightmare. Honestly, you can't make that shit up, as a writing mentor of mine once told her class. I am so sorry for you but grateful for those of us who get to read your notes of your experience. I love the deadpan quality of this and the lack of sentimentality. I was horrified and extremely amused at once — (but still so sorry for you!)

    Keep that foot elevated, Elisabeth and heal quickly!

    Reply
  2. Alesa Warcan
    September 8, 2010 at 5:41 am (7 years ago)

    Indeed, I too bid you a speedy recovery.

    Sharing living spaces is rarely easy, especially when thrown in with random strangers… But at least you don't have a nurse Ratchett to contend with. : j

    Reply
  3. Kit Courteney
    September 8, 2010 at 7:21 am (7 years ago)

    Oh goodness me!

    How terrible to have to go through all that. Beautifully written, though.

    Keep that tibia still!

    Hope you heal quickly.

    Reply
  4. Ruth
    September 8, 2010 at 7:53 am (7 years ago)

    I am fascinated by the details you shared, though it was awful for you. My colleague at work's mother also had dementia after hip surgery, from the anesthesia. This is terrible.

    This huge cast you're wearing, I hope it will not be too terribly uncomfortable and that you won't need surgery. Well, I know the first wish is probably ludicrous, but I can wish, can't I?

    Reply
  5. Tabitha Bird
    September 8, 2010 at 9:33 am (7 years ago)

    I wish you well and a speedy recovery 🙂

    Reply
  6. steven
    September 8, 2010 at 10:51 am (7 years ago)

    oh elisabeth – you need to be somewhere quieter. you hear so much of the world and then reflect on that so well. to hear all of this sorrow and confusion while you're supposed to be healing – well it's horrible. get better soon. steven

    Reply
  7. Helen
    September 8, 2010 at 12:06 pm (7 years ago)

    The most vivid, real description of a completely horrid experience … for all of you. I have had both of my hips replaced and rejoice in the fact that my mind wasn't impacted by the anesthetic.

    Please take care of your tibia … no more hospitals for you!

    Reply
  8. Jim Murdoch
    September 8, 2010 at 12:25 pm (7 years ago)

    In another life I used to have a sister-in-law who was a nursing sister in a geriatric ward and had worked with the elderly for years. She was, and I say this with the greatest of affection because I was (and still am) fond of her, a cold-hearted bitch. None of her sisters or brothers was like that and she explained to me once that she was the way she was because of her work. She said the first few months she was in that particular job she was in tears constantly and the only way she could cope with it was to switch off her emotions. The problem was once off she found it harder and harder to switch them back on again. The only vestigial emotion that seemed to be left to her was anguish. Her face never showed it but her eyes did.

    I have no hip trouble yet but Carrie does and so that’s something we have to look forward to. It is only a matter of time. I do not think I’ll tell her about this post however.

    That said I do think I’ll hang onto that expression, “one of your fuzzies,” for future life.

    Reply
  9. Mim
    September 8, 2010 at 2:56 pm (7 years ago)

    Hello, dear Elizabeth! Here's hoping you get the hell out of there soon. Your accident: it could happen to anyone.

    Drug-induced dementia need not happen. Doreen's case could have been managed in a way to reduce the risk. No, we do not necessarily have to look forward to such dementia. Gerontologists know what to do to care for older patients. Google New York Times article on this subject.

    And get well!

    Reply
  10. standing on my head
    September 8, 2010 at 2:59 pm (7 years ago)

    your account confirms my belief that a hospital is no place for sick people to be. i am sorry for annette-anesthesia can be devasting, and can take a very long time to leave the body.
    i hope you're resting better at home, away from that horror story of a hospital.

    Reply
  11. jabblog
    September 8, 2010 at 3:20 pm (7 years ago)

    What you describe is not at all unusual, though very trying for you and the other patients in control of their faculties. The feeling of not being able to escape the sights, sounds and smells is overwhelming, I'm sure.
    My mother-in-law, 93, in hospital after breaking a bone in April,formerly mild-mannered, became completely paranoid and delusional, seeing birds with dogs' heads and snakes the length of the ward. She ranted and raved, released great streams of invective, was physically and verbally abusive and incontinent. She was convinced the staff and patients were involved in a plot against her. It was ascribed to urinary infections and the wrong combination, for her, of drugs. She has left hospital now and is in a very nice care home but is increasingly confused and extrordinarily self-centred and inconsiderate.
    I hope your leg heals soon and you are able to avoid the surgeon's knife.

    Reply
  12. Anthony Duce
    September 8, 2010 at 6:32 pm (7 years ago)

    This might make a good four or five part play for the theatre. I was imagining the actors for the various parts. I’m sorry you are going through this, but who knows: some interesting stories waiting to be told?

    Reply
  13. Art Durkee
    September 9, 2010 at 12:22 am (7 years ago)

    Hospital humor. There's nothing like it. I've been around for far too long, probably, which is why I get along with nurses well and other people sometimes look at me weird. The fault of being the son of a doctor, no doubt my own fault somehow.

    My Mom had Alzheimer's. That time in the emergency room a week before she died, when she was screaming bloody murder and even I couldn't calm her down. I had to wait outside, feeling scarred to my soul and bones by her screams, which I've never heard anything like before. heads turned all the way across the ER. I told my sister later that I was glad she hadn't heard any of that. A week later Mom was gone, because she couldn't understand any of the treatments, refused all pills, and so forth. And then she was gone.

    I don't think it's inevitable to go like that. I think it depends a lot on the environment. I can't say I think much of Doreen's doctor breezing in like that and being judgmental. I know a lot of doctors and most of them are a lot more compassionate. People like Doreen can wear down anybody, though, dementia or not. My aunt is like that right now, since my uncle died. She's quite impossible.

    So I'm glad you're at home in relative peace and quiet, or at least lack of screaming and being woken up in the middle of the night for the usual tests. I try to be tolerant, and that could down anybody, eventually. better to recover at home, always, if at all possible.

    Reply
  14. Elisabeth
    September 9, 2010 at 12:36 am (7 years ago)

    Thanks Elizabeth, I think I'm in a state to start responding to comments.

    For the last few days as much as I could begin to post and then respond to other people's posts, the thought of responding to comments to my own posts seemed too difficult, but hopefully that time has passed.

    The hospital experience was every bit as bad as it sounds in this post, only worse. I feel for you. You spend so much time in medical establishments for Sophie.

    The worst is the dehumanising that goes on. Put on a hospital gown and you become an object.

    Reply
  15. Elisabeth
    September 9, 2010 at 12:47 am (7 years ago)

    No Nurse Ratchett, Alesa, but that night nurse came close. I wanted to scream at her, 'Don't patronise me'.

    That third night after two appalling nights sleep, I told her I had not been able to sleep the night before. This when I was pleading for a sleeping pill, which had not been included under my doctor's instructions. She had already told me I could not have anything other than pain relief, which I felt I did not need anymore, though she kept insisting I should take painkillers and not be a martyr. The pain was fine whenever I sat still but my poor sleep deprived psyche needed help.

    'You slept well last night, I saw it,' the night nurse said. 'After we wheeled D out into the corridor. I could tell.'

    I'd have thought I was a better judge of my sleep, despite my closed eyes. When I sleep well, I am aware of dreaming. I do not remember dreaming once in hospital. I could not fall into a deep sleep. Every time I tried something happened to disrupt it.

    I should stop the gripe. Thanks Alesa.

    Reply
  16. Elisabeth
    September 9, 2010 at 12:50 am (7 years ago)

    I'm trying hard to keep my poor tibia still, Kit, fearful as I am not to let it move. If it moves it's surgery for me.

    Mind you, the cat loves to sit between my legs on the couch and I'm forever having to push her off.

    'Be careful of my tibia, cat.'

    Thanks, Kit.

    Reply
  17. Elisabeth
    September 9, 2010 at 12:54 am (7 years ago)

    I agree Ruth post surgical dementia ia a dreadful thing. I did not realise until now how prevalent it is. I've heard long ago about the ill effects of multiple medications that interact with one another to cause confusion, and then add on anaesthesia. It's probably a bit like taking ecstasy or speed, or any other illicit drug – criminal.

    It's certainly made me wary.

    thanks, Ruth.

    Reply
  18. Elisabeth
    September 9, 2010 at 12:57 am (7 years ago)

    Thanks, Lorraine and Tabitha for your good wishes. I'd like to hurry up the process, unfortunately, it's not one I can rush.

    Rushing got me into this predicament in the first place. I must learn from it.

    Reply
  19. Elisabeth
    September 9, 2010 at 1:03 am (7 years ago)

    Thanks Steven. At last it's quiet for me. I'm home alone, for a few hours at least, which has its drawbacks – no one to fetch and carry – but my family set me up with all I need before they left for their various enterprises and I have a phone at hand.

    I need some quiet time and take enormous pleasure in at last feeling like I have wits enough to respond to the wonderful comments people pass my way. It's a tremendous comfort this and leaves me feeling that I am not alone, even as I am alone at peace in the quiet.

    Though it'd be lovely to have someone make me another hot cup f tea. I finished the last one hours ago. You get cups of tea in hospital at regular intervals but I'd forgo the comfort of a hospital cup of tea for the quiet of home even without tea.

    Thanks, Steven.

    Reply
  20. Elisabeth
    September 9, 2010 at 1:06 am (7 years ago)

    Thanks, Helen. I'll try to avoid hospitals as you suggest. It has been a horrid experience, but as some have suggested, there's plenty to write about, but more important than that I think I am learning new things that I could not know about without the experience, awful as it is.

    After two hip replacements, you'd certainly know something of what I'm writing about.

    Reply
  21. Elisabeth
    September 9, 2010 at 1:15 am (7 years ago)

    The daughter who coined the term 'your fuzzies' tried for hours to convince her mother that she was hallucinating, Jim.

    Hour after hour she kept telling her mother the things she imagined were not true. The things she thought she saw were not there.

    I admired this daughter her determination.

    By the time D began to come good, I could understand something of what the daughter had said about her mother being a completely different woman post surgery.

    D was such a feisty woman in the end, a woman who called a spade a spade, and in the end I thought there was truth even to some of her hallucinations, particularly the ones about being cut up and drugged, all of them true.

    You've heard of iatrogenesis? D's is a classic example.

    I hope when Carrie has a hip replacement – if she does – it goes as smoothly as the other woman in the ward, the oldest and most lucid, the one I call Lois. But even she suffered a few hours disorientation immediately after surgery.

    It seems a common response to anaesthesia in the elderly.

    Thanks, Jim.

    Reply
  22. Elisabeth
    September 9, 2010 at 1:19 am (7 years ago)

    It's good to read that such drug induced dementia need not happen, Mim. That was my feeling too.

    There are somethings that the mindless distribution of multiple medications create that need not exist, if more thought went into the treatment process.

    Reply
  23. Elisabeth
    September 9, 2010 at 1:22 am (7 years ago)

    Thanks, Standing on my head. Your blog title is a good way to describe the hospital experience, like involuntarily standing on my head, everything topsy turvey, everything allegedly designed to help but often times making things worse.

    It's good to be home. Now I can rest and sleep at night without the aid of sleeping pills.

    Reply
  24. Elisabeth
    September 9, 2010 at 1:30 am (7 years ago)

    You reminded me in your comment, Janice, the first thing that hit me when they wheeled me into 3 North was the smell. The smell of ageing and of decay. The smell of urine, and vomit and of all those things we try hard to eliminate from our lives.

    After a while I grew accustomed to the smell, became part of it I suppose, but Ill never forget that first impression.

    One of the nurses complained to me that the orthopaedic ward at Cabrini was functioning like a nursing home. Every night the nurses lined the corridor with the several demented patients who screamed all night long to protect the other patients, but it drove the nurses themselves spare.

    The older we get the more likely dementia becomes. It's sad that someone as well disposed as your mother in law should become so difficult, but it happens.

    In hospital I felt like my usual goodnatured self had been converted into a bit of a complaining monster, too. Hospital brought out the worst in me.

    Reply
  25. Elisabeth
    September 9, 2010 at 1:32 am (7 years ago)

    There are stories in all of this Anthony, and not just for fiction.

    These women had all lead such interesting lives and we never had a chance to share the details because our time was taken up with survival but had we stayed together longer, I imagine many more stories would unfold.

    Thanks, Anthony.

    Reply
  26. Elisabeth
    September 9, 2010 at 1:41 am (7 years ago)

    You've had a fair bit of contact with the medical establishment, too, Art, by the sound of things. What with your own health issues and your father a doctor.

    Despite the horrors of that last night of your mother's life- her massive distress – it's good you can still see the humour in it.

    There were many times on the ward when someone – most likely the stoical and optimistic Lois- would talk about the need to keep a sense of humour.

    Even as she struggled across the floor on her walking in frame in agony after her hip replacement, Lois tried to smile and make light of it.

    It's easy to go under and I must admit there were a couple of times when I lost my sense of humour and despaired, but it's easier now I'm at home. Though even at home, it's not easy.

    Thanks, Art.

    Reply
  27. Ms. Moon
    September 9, 2010 at 2:07 am (7 years ago)

    This could be a book.

    Reply
  28. Kath Lockett
    September 9, 2010 at 3:40 am (7 years ago)

    Oh Elizabeth it makes you realise that shared hospital rooms may save money and increase 'efficiency' but for the patients inside them, they are often forms of torture that can very effectively undo any rest or recuperation needed.

    Your ladies were in their eighties but my five ladies (six of us to a room in 1999 when Sapphire was born) were in their 20s and 30s and if it wasn't at least four of the six babies screaming, it was the nurses' utter disregard for peace and quiet as they yelled to each other up the corridors, clanged trays to the floor and whinged about whose turn it was to get the coffees from Lygon Street.

    Every one of those godawful days I was so so glad to see Love Chunks arrive the very moment visiting hours started – 8am and would smile and fall asleep as he held our baby.

    Reply
  29. Elisabeth
    September 9, 2010 at 5:19 am (7 years ago)

    It's all about money, Kath, this medical system of us, at least as far as I can see. When I complained about how long it was taking to see the specialist, it took over two days before he came and even then not before I'd cracked it, my husband said 'If I treated my clients the way these doctors treat their patients, I'd have no clients'.

    I refer primarily to the business of keeping people waiting, a pet bug bear of mine. I know that emergencies happen and get in the way of the regulated appointments but it seems to me there's more to it than that.

    There's an underlying assumption that other people's time does not matter when it comes to their health needs. as dictated by the doctors. These dictates come first.

    To some extent this is true. My broken leg took priority on Saturday for me t least, and I can excuse his absence on Sunday, the weekend break but all day Monday. I'm sure he could have squeezed me, if he'd wanted and I'd have been prepared to wait, if he'd let me in on how long. It's this endless waiting without any idea of how long, not knowing what's wrong that gets to me.

    Anyhow enough of my complaints. Others might say, that just life.
    Thanks, Kath.

    Reply
  30. little hat
    September 9, 2010 at 8:47 am (7 years ago)

    God Elizabeth what can one say. It's not where I want to end up that's for sure.
    On the other hand what a great way to get material for a writer.
    Perhaps you should check back in!!

    Reply
  31. A Cuban In London
    September 9, 2010 at 9:45 am (7 years ago)

    I feel for you and I also feel for Doreen. It's a difficult situation to be in. I love you can express your feelings so coherently and articulately.

    Wish you better.

    Greetings from London.

    Reply
  32. River
    September 9, 2010 at 10:59 am (7 years ago)

    I'm feeling so sorry for Doreen and now I'm also worried about my own upcoming shoulder surgery. it's a relatively minor procedure, but I don't want to come out of it with dementia.

    Reply
  33. Laoch of Chicago
    September 9, 2010 at 4:25 pm (7 years ago)

    Ugh!!! I hope your healing follows a more serene and speedy path.

    Reply
  34. Art Durkee
    September 9, 2010 at 6:52 pm (7 years ago)

    "There's an underlying assumption that other people's time does not matter when it comes to their health needs. as dictated by the doctors. These dictates come first."

    Actually, I think that's general, not just to doctors. I'm aware of triage, in which the most urgent medical conditions are treated in order of urgency. Sometimes the broken bones have to wait till after the more life-threatening conditions. But of course when it's US, it's always urgent. Both are true. Triage can be really, really annoying, and if the hospital is understaffed and overfull, it can't always be avoided.

    I constantly run into situations in everyday life, though, in which people assume their time and energy is more important than anyone else's. If it happens in a retail situation, maybe that store doesn't get my business on that day; which is their loss, not mine.

    i constantly get asked by people to do things for them, never mind my own needs or immediate timing. It's both annoying AND amusing when someone asking me to go out of my way to do something for them gets bent out of shape when I have to say No, or Later. This whole thing has turned up in my last couple of poems, actually. That's how annoying it is, you make it into a poem. LOL

    As I've said before: Making art is the best revenge.

    Reply
  35. Come Back Brighter
    September 9, 2010 at 9:09 pm (7 years ago)

    As if being in hospital wasn't bad enough, being stuck with the three witches from Macbeth in hospital sounds like a genuine plot to destroy you.

    On the plus side, little consolation though it is, people would pay good money for this quality of writing.

    Reply
  36. melissashook
    September 9, 2010 at 10:31 pm (7 years ago)

    oh,, this is quite remarkable to read..
    thank you for the full report…
    and much good luck for your recovery and NO operation…
    take care,

    Reply
  37. Christine
    September 9, 2010 at 11:26 pm (7 years ago)

    Poor Doreen… hopefully the medication will right her mind, soon. And what a nightmare… hospitals can be ugly places particularly when one is in pain.

    Reply
  38. Kirk Jusko
    September 10, 2010 at 12:18 am (7 years ago)

    I was away from the computer this past Friday thru this past Monday. When I finally went back on-line, I was busy with my own blog and other assorted nonsense, so this is the first time I've had to read this and your previous post. Sorry about your accident. Hope you have a quick recovery.

    I have a friend whose mother devoloped dementia after a hip operation. According to him, the doctor just claimed afterwards the mother was simply "stressed out". So stressed out that she once called the police demanding to be arrested.

    I think her children ended up being the ones stressed out.

    Reply
  39. Marylinn Kelly
    September 10, 2010 at 2:43 am (7 years ago)

    If you don't mind reading it again, oh my goodness…what an ordeal…waiting so long for the doctor to see you, the poor elderly patients – even the one doing alright – the confusion, uproar, lack of peace or privacy. I did not read all the comments or responses or I wouldn't get a note to you before my bedtime…I trust you are doing as you've been instructed, keeping your leg immobile until further notice. I am so glad that your injury was no worse. Feel better, glad to be home. Quite a thorough account of (brrrr) hospital. xoxo

    Reply
  40. Elisabeth
    September 10, 2010 at 5:02 am (7 years ago)

    If only it were a book, Ms Moon and not real life, I'd be happy to rad it, but not to endure it. But it could be worse. Thanks.

    Reply
  41. Elisabeth
    September 10, 2010 at 5:04 am (7 years ago)

    As I said to Ms Moon, Little Hat, and just as you say, there's plenty of material for a book, only it's not fiction. It's almost too real to be true.

    I'm still having trouble believing it. Thanks, Little Hat.

    Reply
  42. Elisabeth
    September 10, 2010 at 5:06 am (7 years ago)

    Thanks Cuban, for all that I can express these things I sometimes feel ad about inflicting knowledge of them on other people, though isn't that what writers do? They tell us about things we might not otherwise know. Thanks, Cuban.

    Reply
  43. Elisabeth
    September 10, 2010 at 5:09 am (7 years ago)

    River, it's unlikely you'll come out of your shoulder surgery demented. It happens but it's not the norm. I'd certainly not heard of it before, disoriented, yes, I'd heard of that post surgery but not full blown dementia.

    Fear not. Yours should be fine and good luck with it. Thanks, River.

    Reply
  44. Glenn Ingersoll
    September 10, 2010 at 5:15 am (7 years ago)

    Zow. Hospitals are stressful environments. When my husband had to go in for surgery this year I gave him earplugs — and he said it was the best thing I could have given him. He just had to deal with being woken in the middle of the night by inquisitive nurses, listen to the other two TVs in the room and the other two patients & their visitors and the beeping machines — nobody raving, thank God.

    Healing energy to you.

    Reply
  45. Elisabeth
    September 10, 2010 at 5:29 am (7 years ago)

    I'm a little more serene now, Laoch, in competition with one of the cats who wants to share the pillow on which I elevate my leg, but otherwise life is a tiny bit sweeter.

    Thanks for your good wishes.

    Reply
  46. Elisabeth
    September 10, 2010 at 5:35 am (7 years ago)

    Making art is the best revenge. Thanks for reminding me, Art. In some ways it's what has kept me sane over these last several days, the thought that in time I might be able to transform me f these awful experiences into words on the page and that they might thereby lose some of their sting.

    There is always a hierarchy of needs in life, Art, your own and other peoples. I suppose some degree of competition is inevitable.

    For some reason Eliza Dolittle comes to mind 'Just you wait Henry Higgins, just you wait', from My Fair Lady. We have to deal with our grievances somehow and I find words to be the least traumatic, though of course words can still sting.

    Thanks, Art.

    Reply
  47. Elisabeth
    September 10, 2010 at 5:37 am (7 years ago)

    The three witches of Macbeth, seems apt, Come Back Brighter.

    Thanks for the confidence in my writing. It is my greatest comfort at the moment, when in most other ways I feel so helpless. At least I still have my voice.

    Reply
  48. Elisabeth
    September 10, 2010 at 5:39 am (7 years ago)

    Thanks, Melissa. You of all people must know something of what I'm going through, the helplessness of incapacity and the powerlessness to intervene.

    Thankfully it passes. Until the next time. We cannot avoid the frailty of our ageing.

    Reply
  49. Elisabeth
    September 10, 2010 at 5:48 am (7 years ago)

    I agree, Kirk, families are often the ones to suffer in cases of dementia, at least when we imagine that the demented person is unaware, but I suspect that people suffering dementia also have a terrible time, made worse by the fact that they cannot understand at all what's going on.

    Doreen seemed to suffer worse when she started to come back into 'reality' and realised how 'difficult', rude and unreasonable she'd been.

    She seemed wracked with guilt, forever apologising to us. Mind you apologising seems to me to be one of the features of many patients in hospital myself included. We are forever apologising for being such a burden. It's horrible.
    Thanks, Kirk.

    Reply
  50. Elisabeth
    September 10, 2010 at 6:59 am (7 years ago)

    Hospital can be terrible, Marylinn, different when you have an injury compared to when you have a baby, or at least for me it was. Thanks for your good wishes.

    Reply
  51. Elisabeth
    September 10, 2010 at 7:05 am (7 years ago)

    As Art says, the triage system can be particularly irritating, as necessary as it may be.

    The nurses seem to attend to patient calls on a sort of triage system, too, and it seems unless you make a great deal of noise, or are showing massive signs of distress, it's easy for them to overlook patients who might nevertheless need attention.

    It's not just the physical pain, as you can imagine I'm sure, Christine, it's the emotional, a myriad of feelings collide. As one woman said to me, 'you can say goodbye to your dignity'.

    Thanks for your good wishes, Christine.

    Reply
  52. Elisabeth
    September 10, 2010 at 7:22 am (7 years ago)

    Ear plugs are of absolute necessity in hospital Glenn, along with eye masks.

    By chance I had earplugs and an eye mask secreted away in a back pouch of my hand bag left there from my trip overseas.

    The ear plugs were indispensable, but the mask was tight and uncomfortable. In the end I resorted to my black bra.

    Imagine it: a motionless body in bed, bra goggles propped on her nose to block out the light. It annoyed the school strict night nurse, but I did not care. I had all but lost my dignity.

    Thanks Glenn.

    Reply
  53. Dave King
    September 10, 2010 at 10:49 am (7 years ago)

    Beautifully written, but a bit too near the bone for comfort. It gets closer daily. Next week I'm having my second cataract operation – it's all part of the same rich pattern.

    Reply
  54. Zuzana
    September 10, 2010 at 11:57 am (7 years ago)

    I think most people that have been in hospitals, for short or extended time, will share similar stories to yours…
    There is a certain atmosphere there that is difficult to put to words, particularly as for some this is the end station and that can be so palpable in the air…
    I have once in my youth worked for 3 weeks as an orderly in a hospital, the 3 worst weeks of my life…
    Please get better soon..
    xoxo

    Reply
  55. Elisabeth
    September 11, 2010 at 3:33 am (7 years ago)

    Thanks, Dave. You'd do well to read the New York Times article to which Mim refers in the comments below, not to scare you but as a precautionary thing.

    I'm amazed at the iatrogenic qualities of medical treatments, Dave, some may be unavoidable but others I'm sure can be prevented or at least minimised.

    Good luck with your eye 'surgery' and thanks, Dave.

    Reply
  56. Elisabeth
    September 11, 2010 at 3:37 am (7 years ago)

    Three months as an orderly Zuzana must have been an eye opening experience for you.

    There is something indescribable about the hospital atmosphere, as you suggest. You can detect it as an outsider. But it practically chokes you as an inmate.

    Thanks, Zuzana.

    Reply
  57. Elisabeth
    September 11, 2010 at 3:39 am (7 years ago)

    I'm glad you enjoyed the image of the bra mask, Glenn. As they say, desperate situations call for desperate solutions.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  58. Elisabeth
    September 11, 2010 at 3:41 am (7 years ago)

    Thanks so much for the link to that article, Mim. I refer to it my next post. It's sobering but also hopeful.

    More people need to know about medically induced and surgically induced dementia, I think, Mim. In order to work against it happening more than is inevitable.

    Thanks again.

    Reply
  59. Kirk Jusko
    September 11, 2010 at 8:36 pm (7 years ago)

    Elisabeth, I think I may have the left the wrong impression with my previous comment. The doctor didn't say my friend's mother was stressed out by the dementia, but that dementia at all but rather it was a form of stress that caused her to act delusional. It's also possible that my friend told it to me wrong, or I just heard it wrong.

    Reply
  60. Elisabeth
    September 12, 2010 at 5:21 am (7 years ago)

    Thanks for your qualification here, Kirk. People often use the term 'stress' to cover a multitude of conditions. but I think there's a huge difference between dementia that brings with it all those delusions and stress.

    I'm not sure that stress alone could led to dementia, maybe it can. Maybe its the wear and tear of life that contributes as well.

    There are physiological understandings and psychological ones, internal as well as external factors, genetic and envronmental. I suspect they all play a part.

    Reply
  61. KleinsteMotte
    September 12, 2010 at 8:38 pm (7 years ago)

    I can hear you loud and clearly! A while back I had to put my ailing auntie into a home. She had a stroke and could not be cared for at home. Two years I watched her and many others deteriorate until finally they give up the struggle to survive. But I witnessed some very sad behaviour as they deteriorated. But I marvelled at the staff who carried on relentlessly. Still I wonder why we must wait out the time once we are in that lost state.

    Reply
  62. Sherry O'Keefe
    September 13, 2010 at 1:37 am (7 years ago)

    i am late to reading this – so sorry to hear of your injury. you've given me much to think about. i wish you solid healing!

    best,

    sherry

    Reply
  63. Elisabeth
    September 13, 2010 at 3:03 am (7 years ago)

    Thanks for your good wishes, Sherry.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *