Older Mind Matters

The story of Harry, Joan and the heroes, part 1

This is the story of a couple in their late 80s – let’s call them Joan and Harry.

Both are proud independent Yorkshire folk. They met in their teens and have been married for over 60 years. Harry is a retired clergyman and has become his wife’s carer despite the fact that he has a long list of chronic illnesses to contend with himself. Joan has gradually become disabled with severe arthritis and osteoporosis, so that her mobility has deteriorated, she sleeps downstairs and only really walks from bed to toilet to chair. She had carers calling three times a day to help Harry at the point our story starts.

Just over a week ago Harry developed a urinary tract infection and his GP started him on antibiotics. Harry assured his family that he was ok and improving, but over the weekend of February 11th/ 12th he started to have falls and become much more ill. He fell heavily and badly bruised his ribs, but soldiered on like the old soldier that he is, despite most probably feeling awful. He didn’t want to call an out of hours GP who wouldn’t know him, and didn’t tell his daughter. On Monday February 13th things came to a head and his GP persuaded him to go into the local Hospital. He only went because his grandson and fiancée (both medical students and the first of a number of heroes) had impetuously driven to see them instead of going back to university, by this stage knowing of the situation.

Joan was now at home with carers coming in, husband absent, and her daughter and son (who both live at a distance) sharing overnight stays to keep an eye on her. On Tuesday February 14th her daughter took Joan to visit Harry in Hospital. It had been a bit of a struggle getting her in and out of a car for some time. However it was when walking back into the house that Joan cried out that her leg had given way, sagged against her daughter, and after that she couldn’t walk. A passing dog-walker (another hero) rescued Joan and her daughter from the immediate crisis at the front door and helped Joan back into her house. Now one person couldn’t move Joan, and the care agency were asked to send two staff four times a day. The GP started an antibiotic, suggesting that Joan might have an infection, but things didn’t improve. If it hadn’t been for a kindly neighbour (a major hero) the situation wouldn’t have lasted till Friday (17th), but it did. The nameless daughter spoke to Harry and they agreed to find a respite bed for Joan to give him chance to get better and her chance to get back on her feet. A bed was duly found (this is the condensed version remember) but just before she went into the Home, the GP decided to send her to A&E to be checked out. She was found to have a fractured tibia and admitted to the same hospital as her husband (both at opposite ends of the building, inevitably).

This saga will be continued and I'll write about the learning points in a future post ...

1 comment (Add your own)

1. David Jolley wrote:
A time for the heroes and just look how they have emerged.
H and J have to be included in the number. Old age is not for the faint-hearted
We shall need to be calm as the ever-after unfolds its plot

Sat, February 25, 2012 @ 6:04 PM

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