Wednesday, January 09, 2008

How To Suck Eggs

Things with Karen’s mum are looking better this week. The word processor we got to her on Friday has proved a real boon and has improved her communication with the world around her a hundredfold.

Unfortunately it’s also improved her ability to cheese off the world around her with long, roving lists of unreasonable demands... including wanting her own duvet and bed-sheets brought into the hospital from home (and then laundered), a mini TV, a radio and other bits of hardware plus her Black & Decker Workmate.

Ok. I made up the last one but you get the picture.

The TV and radio I can understand but bringing in your own bed-sheets to a hospital is ridiculous. The hospital is clean and (unusual for a British hospital) the ward is infection free. To bring in foreign sheets is a real risk and I doubt the hospital will be offering a home laundry service! And Karen simply can’t be trailing dirty and freshly laundered duvets back and forth to Slough all the time.

Karen got home yesterday looking like she’d run a marathon, climbed a mountain and then done a full day’s work broking a Middle Eastern peace deal on top of it. To top it all Tom’s feeds had got so messed up he woke several times in the night rather than just the normal once. The knock-on effect is that Karen is like a zombie this morning.

However, there is a positive. The hospital have started speech therapy and are hoping to get her mum’s vocal chords and tongue working again over the next 5 weeks. Other relations have now all been contacted so hopefully other visitors will now start calling in to see her thus alleviating some of the pressure on us...

Lastly, the consultant, after listening to or rather reading another long barrage of demands, said something to Karen’s mum that was very pertinent. He told her that deep down she needed to accept where she was with the illness – physically, emotionally and environmentally – and to try to derive some peace from that acceptance.

I suspect, however, that is a life lesson she really needed to have learnt many years ago. Sadly I’m not sure she’ll be able to manage it now... she’s simply too old and much too stuck in her ways.

21 comments:

Reluctant Blogger said...

It is good that things are looking up a bit but nonetheless it all seems rather gloomy, particularly for poor Karen. Sleep deprivation makes the world seem a hostile place at the best of times!

As for the (im)patient, maybe hearing it from someone else might make her think a bit more. Maybe? But yes, I think some people are past changing. And actually I can see that facing up to such things would be very daunting - hiding and preoccupying oneself with irritating other people and driving them mad, must seem very attractive in comparison.

The bed linen thing is just the sort of thing my MIL would go for!

Old Cheeser said...

It's true, I guess having a stroke does force you to take stock and change your perspective on things - you have no choice! I agree with reluctant blogger's comment - your mother-in-law's behaviour is probably her way of dealing with what's happened and a kind of avoidance of things, not that I condone it...

Dare I say Karen's Mum should be re-named "Madonna" or "J-Lo" with her diva-like demands! Did put a smile on my face though.

Annie said...

Hi Steve, really sorry about your situation. It looks as if things are moving in the right direction now. Perhaps you MIL will think about the consultant's advice. I take it there is no father-in-law?

Keep concentrating on those positives.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Steve – Annie told me of your mother-in-law’s illness and the problems it has created for you and Karen and disruption to family life. I’ve just been reading back over the history –sounds horrendous.

I spent over 30 years working in the NHS and much of that time was spent working alongside family carers. I still work on supporting carers in various aspects of my work. The 24/7 burden carers have to carry is awesome. Carers provide support through a sense of love, duty and obligation – not necessarily in that order. Research shows carers save the government about £500 million per year. I know all that is of little help to you and Karen at the moment but I understand your frustration and you have my sympathy - again that's not much practical help to you both of course :-)

As matter of interest during my NHS career I worked alongside hundreds (possibly thousands) of doctors and as a general rule I conclude that doctors don’t make good patients.

Trevor Gay said...

PS - Whisky may help :-)

Steve said...

Hi RB, I'm sure a lot of the MIL's behaviour has its root in avoidance strategies... and sadly I doubt the consultant's words will sink in very much. You don't fancy swapping MIL's for a day do you?

Thanks OC - for putting a smile on my face too. The thought of Karen's mother in a conical pointy bra... well. It doesn't so much as float my boat as broadside it and sink it completely without trace...!

Thanks Annie, no FIL alas and no other off-spring - poor Karen bears the weight of all.

And thanks to you too Trevor... particularly the advice relating to whisky. Do Karen and I take it or do we pour some straight into the MIL's intravenous fluids?

The Hitch said...

An unreasonable mother in law?
NO WAY!

Steve said...

I know. My whole life is a cliche. I've already pre-booked my mid-life crisis.

The Sagittarian said...

Good luck, mate! Believe me, if I was closer I would happily help out...I know a really good whisky shop here tho (Whisky Galore...look it up on t'net) and will tell my husband how unlucky you are and how lucky he is that his MIL is fit and well and he will drink whisky on your behalf. Make sure Karen takes care of herself and that wee baby.

Matthew Rudd said...

A little improvement per day, just a little, will give you all something to aim for.

Flaming Nora said...

Give the woman her Black and Decker workmate! Glad to hear she's on the mend even if only a little.

Steve said...

Amanda, tell your husband to make it a double and to go easy with the ice...! Cheers!

Cheers Matthew - wise words indeed.

Nora... I fear she'll have built a guillotine for all the staff who have failed her whims by the time we next visit...

MOTHER OF MANY said...

As a nurse I know I would make an awful patient and would have to be dragged kicking and screaming into hospital.
And I am a mother-in-law!
I personally have not had much luck with MIL's, never being good enough for mummy's little boy!
It is good news though that you should be getting some help from the family though so you can all catch up on your sleep and the baby get back into a routine.

Reluctant Blogger said...

haha yeah I'm game re the MIL swap if you are! Where do you suggest for the handover? The outside lane on the M6? You lob yours out and I'll lob mine!

Glad to see you are managing to retain your sense of humour anyway.

Gina

Steve said...

Hi Ally, I'm sure no-one likes being a patient but being "in the industry" possibly raises your level of expectation and therefore your capacity for disappointment! I'm trying to be sympathetic to the MIL but it's very difficult!

Gina, I suggest we lob them out of two fast moving trains... please don't worry if you fluff the catch... ;-)

The Poet Laura-eate said...

The mother-in-law had better watch her step or she'll find herself assigned a team of speech therapists devoted to helping make sure she never talks again! :-)

I guess it's good sign really though.

Sorry to hear you're all under so much pressure. Perhaps you can get hold of a baby automatic feeder like they do for cats which opens at certain times of the day to dispense their dinner!

Steve said...

A speech therapist who can get her to say "please" and "thank you" would be the thing we desire the most!

Not sure Tom would go for an automatic feeder - he likes the personal touch! ;-)

MOTHER OF MANY said...

http://www.britishsignlanguage.com/words/index.php?id=98
It is a long time since I worked with stroke patients but many patients benefited from a limited amount of sign language. Here is a link. Ask the speech therapist about introducing a few signs along side speech.

Daisy said...

i am happy to see she is improving...although i don't know her...i have come to be fond of you and karen and feel it will take a undue pressure off of your family. please tell karen to care for herself (i am sure you have) and let her know that she cannot be there for everyone (it is a sad fact that most women don't like to come to terms with...but have to)...it doesn't mean she is less of a woman, daughter or mother...just that there is only one of her and she only has so much to give...it is a terribly hard lesson (take it from someone who had to learn it over SEVERAL trials)...much love goes out to all of you and just remember, each trial either makes you stronger or breaks you...looks like you are taking strength in this one and that is a good thing, at the end of the day...

Old Cheeser said...

A conical pointy Marks and Spencer bra?

Steve said...

Thanks for the link Ally, I'll certainly take a look!

Thank you Daisy, that means a lot. I will happily pass on your good wishes to Karen; I know she will really appreciate it.

OC: it'll have to be; I'm not sure the MIL's tastes run to John-Paul Gaultier...!