Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Smokers

To get into the hospital you have to pass three layers.

The first layer that you get to is of thick cigarette smoke.

The second layer is of the smokers. Some have oxygen, some are sitting in wheelchairs, some are on drips. Grey-faced and cheerless, they stand or sit in their dressing-gowns, in the drizzle, smoking.

The third layer is of the door, which is covered in notices that say "No Smoking in the Hospital or Grounds". Often it's hard to spot the notices because the smokers are leaning on them.

I'm filled with righteous indignation seeing them. I want to stop their treatment until they give it up.

But then I think - - well, we all do things that aren't so good for our health - - and they've probably smoked for years and when things are stressful it's hard to give up - - and you can see at a glance that they're not people who've had the easiest of lives - - so perhaps I should cut them a bit of slack, even though I hate to see them there. The worst for me is seeing pregnant women who smoke - when I was expecting Olli, a few pregnant smokers voiced the idea that since the smoking made the baby smaller, that meant an easier birth and hence was generally a Good Thing. Hah.

We took my mother out for a breath of fresh cigarette smoke this afternoon. It was supposed to be a breath of fresh air, but that's how it goes outside the hospital.

She had her operation on Thursday and it's gone fine - already the arm is looking a bit better. But although her blood pressure is generally excellent, they think a problem could be that it suddenly plunges for no apparent reason. The statins that she's on can cause this. She's on a tiny dose, mind - - I'm on 40mg, four times her dose and don't seem to have any ill effects.

But she is eighty-five, of course. Anyway, yesterday, just before visiting, she had been told that they want to keep her in for a while longer to try to even out this blood pressure. Perhaps, when she tripped and broke her shoulder, it was actually plunging blood pressure that caused her to trip over her shoelace. Certainly when she collapsed in the cafe her blood pressure was really low.

It's not good, very low blood pressure, and I speak as someone whose blood pressure was once thirty over fifteen. I was both pregnant and upside-down at the time - I was in a special bed and they kept tipping me more and more to keep the blood flowing to my brain.

Anyway, you could say that my mother did not take this news well. She hasn't been in hospital for years and years and it's all been a bit of a steep learning curve to her. The food isn't very good. They make you turn your light off at ten o'clock. It's horrific.

She was absolutely determined to discharge herself and it took my brother Michael and me about an hour to talk her round and persuade her that if she goes home now she might just fall over again, and it's better to invest a few days in getting it sorted.

After about three quarters of an hour of this I noticed that the entire long Nightingale ward had fallen silent and was listening with rapt attention and keen enjoyment to our verbal battle.

Finally she calmed down and said she'd stay put for the weekend.

Today, we took her to the cafe and outside for a few minutes and she was much more cheerful. But I'm rather dreading Monday, because I don't think it will have been sorted by then, and I may have to have the same conversation all over again.


Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

When the ward went silent, perhaps they thought that you, your mum and Michael were performing a training role play!
MUM ...And I tell you. I am not going for a breath of fresh air to be surrounded by frigging smokers. It's disgusting!
MUM Don't you mum me! I'm not a celebrity but get me out of here!
DAPHNE But your blood pressure mum!
MUM Blood pressure! That's like the pot calling the kettle black!(GENERAL APPLAUSE from WARD)
To be continued.....

9:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having a bit of spirit/fight in you at 80+ can be seen as a good thing. Often, when an elderly person gives up their fight their progress only goes in one direction: downwards.


PS I expect the rest of the ward were wondering whether their relations would have such a clear grasp of what was going on and what was best for them.

9:35 pm  
Blogger Kate said...

Daphne. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy your blog posts. You are a brilliant writer. I'm back in blogland and will visit more regularly!
I do hope your Mum's blood pressure is stabilised soon. X

7:22 am  
Blogger Debby said...

Monday will be a battle of wills it sounds like. Take time today to renew. Think palm trees and oceans.

5:26 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

Everyone - - - thank you so much!

6:25 pm  

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