My life has been set on pause for the last few months.
Every day I have been waiting; waiting for the nurse to return my call, waiting while driving an hour to the hospital, waiting for the doctor, waiting for a lift, waiting in line at the café around the street because the hospital has banned my beloved Coca Cola, waiting for the night to end without receiving an urgent call about her condition, waiting at a specialists, waiting for a time machine to be invented so I can go back to last year and prepare for said waiting.
My grandmothers health has been poor since late last year. A late night trip to the hospital last August revealed a long sinus pause in her heart, the doctor was slightly concerned and referred her to a cardiologist who performed various tests. One of the last tests he ordered was a holter monitor in February. After wearing the holter monitor for 24 hours she was told that the cardiologist would take a look and get back to her in a few days. She strolled down to the bus stop and decided to stop in the city to do some shopping before returning home. Just as the bus pulled up to the stop and she prepared to board, she heard someone screaming her name. It was two nurses, running in her direction and screaming her name, followed by another nurse with a wheelchair. When they finally reached her, they told her that there was a serious problem, that the cardiologist wanted to admit her so he could assess her situation. My grandmother, stubborn at heart, asked them if she could come back later, as she wanted to do some shopping. Five minutes later the nurses finally convinced her that it was urgent, then a few hours later my Gran was on a ward, hooked up the heart monitors, having her blood pressure taken hourly and still unsure what all the fuss was about.
The fuss was about a three second sinus pauses during the day and a six-ten second sinus pauses at night time. She was kept in hospital for over a week in late February. Treatment was a pacemaker, but her doctors were concerned about her high blood pressure, various clotting medications and low white blood cell count, they decided to postpone the procedure for a week and try to stabilise her blood pressure and blood count. My Gran spend her days in hospital protesting politely. She is very independent and despises anyone making a fuss. She told the doctors to just get on with and and not worry about her, as she was sure they had more important things to do, they laughed and pointed out that worrying about her was their job and she was their most critical patient in their care.
When I visited her in hospital, I first noticed that she was hooked up to monitors and looking quite sickly and tired, the first things she asked me was “who won the cricket last night?” I laughed, she told me that her motto is ‘nothing in life is more important than lotto, cricket and football’. After I found out the cricket scores from another patient, I went to find a vase for the flowers I had bought her. I found a vase near the nurses station, as I snipped off the stems the head nurses said, “your Gran really scares the night staff” in a serious tone that caught me off guard. I asked why – given that she in her late 80’s and doesn’t own a gun – he replied, “her sinus pauses at night, they’re becoming too long, they sit watching the monitor ready to page the doctor.” After that confession I no longer slept well at night either.
During another visit I stopped by her unit to gather some of her belongings. Betty, one of my Grandmothers friends, met me outside and inquired about when she was coming home. I told her I was unsure, then she asked if I would pass on well wishes to my Gran and that she missed gossiping with her. I replied, “of course, I’m sure she misses your company and can’t wait to see you again” with a smile. Betty was pleased. She bid goodbye and proceeded to walk away. Then she suddenly paused and turned around to say possibly one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever received, “you remind me of my granddaughter, she always looks me in the eye when she talks to me and has such a warmth about her. You don’t see that in a lot of young people these day. Your Grandmother is lucky to have you.”
I must say, RPH have fantastic staff. I am astounded by their professionalism and friendliness. You simply look confused in a corridor and a orderly appears – as if by teleportation – and asks you if you need some assistance. It’s sad that the government plan to close such a historical hospital.
My only gripe – a frivolous one at that – is there seems to be a ban on classic Coca Cola at the hospital. Upon consulting the nurses, I found out they score a hit of Coke from the dealers down the street and I then started buying Coke in bulk for myself and the day nurses.
My grandmother was discharged from the hospital two days after they put in the pacemaker. She then stayed with me for a week so I could keep an eye on her and while she watched the cricket. Apart from some bruising and the pacemaker needed it’s pulse/speed changed, she is feeling dramatically better. She has returned home to gossip with her friend Betty and is quite perplexed as to why she feels a tad weak when walking to the shops. Her doctor says it will take six-eight weeks for her to fully recover and for her to take it easy.
Alas, easy is not how my Gran rolls.