Monday, 13 June 2011

Oxygen at teatime

When I woke this morning, I didn't expect to be trying to fit oxygen tubes up my father's nose by teatime. It's been one helluva day.

Monday, 7:30am... Not my favourite day or time. My eldest son had a GCSE today, but not 'til this afternoon. I'd offered to cook him a 'brain food breakfast' but sleep was obviously more appealing. My younger son and I were running around getting ready: breakfast and packed lunch (his), shower (mine), consent form for an outing - you know the sort of stuff. We did really well: he was only 11 minutes late for school.

When I got to work at 9:45, I realised I had a missed call from my father. So I 'phoned back, and heard him answer and fumble with the handset. Then the line went dead.

I called again, and the line was engaged. I called again, and again. And again and again and again and again. Still engaged. Of course I was worried... But it was quite possible that my father was just 'phoning to say "Could you bring me some milk/yoghurt/whisky/tobacco?" (Yes, I did say tobacco, and yes he does have lung cancer)... So I needed more to go on, before leaving work and making an emergency dash 10 miles home.

Well, to cut a long story short... I got hold of someone from the Care Service in the end, and spoke to my father, and his GP... He had had two falls, and the carers had called an ambulance, and he'd refused to go in it. The doctor visited, and diagnosed pneumonia on top of his lung cancer. He'd again refused to go into hospital. He was still at home.

I left work and went to collect my father's antibiotics, steroids and morphine patches. The doctor said a home oxygen machine was on its way.


I arrived at my father's to find him subdued and very confused - away with the fairies, as they say. He was gazing out of the window: "Just look at that speedboat go!" he called happily. But when I asked him which arm he wanted his new morphine patch on, he protested: "Oh no. I don't want to be involved. It's obviously the perfect way to smuggle drugs out of the country. It looks more and more likely she's involved". Who's she? "You know, Whassername, the drugs mule".

And when the man came with the oxygen machine and showed us how to use it, my father was quite annoyed. He wrapped the tubes around his eyes and complained: "The last time I had CCTV fitted, there wasn't this palaver. I can't see anything!"

So I found myself trying to help him to insert the tubes into his nostrils, like the man had shown us.

Not something I ever imagined doing. Ah well. Try something new every day, they say; it's one of the top tips for good mental health.

But really, if I've got to deal with oxygen, I'd sooner learn scuba-diving.


P.S... At least my kids (remember them?) have been great today. My eldest even cooked the tea!

P.P.S... 9:40pm. Had a 'phone call from the Care Service to tell me my father has refused to take the oxygen to bed.

P.P.P.S... Half past midnight. The doctor told my father he give him 24 hours at home, to see if he rallies, before admitting him to hospital. Tick tock, tick tock. 12 hours passed.

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