Bleeding Brains

In September 2009 I was diagnosed with a subdural haemorrhage, and I had to have surgery to drain the haematoma that developed. It was not a pleasant experience realising that someone was going to make a hole in my skull and do the necessary repair work in the leaking blood vessel. That was compounded by the necessity of not being allowed to drive my car, and in general take it very easy for a period of about 6 weeks after I had spent 6 days in hospital. At the same time my wife was showing more symptoms of the dementia that has now taken over her life and she is now in residential aged care.

On New Year’s Eve just passed, I passed into unconsciousness while talking of the phone. (That is an abbreviated version of the lead-up events which I don’t want to go into here.)  As I collapsed onto the desk at which I was sitting I hit my head and my glasses gave me a black eye on the right side and a bruise on the left temple. I was woken from my state of unconsciousness by loud banging on my front door. The person I had been speaking to on the phone had dialled the emergency number and asked for an ambulance to come.

The ambos came in, and assessed that I needed to go straight to the local emergency room and loaded me in to the ambulance. It was 2.00 am when I got there and was admitted to the ER on a trolley here I stayed for about 10 hours while nurses monitored my vital signs and did an ECG. I was sent for a CT scan where they discovered I had a subarachnoid haemorrhage on the left side of my brain. The hospital had my details from my previous encounter on 2009 and the ER doctors wanted to send me off to a better equipped hospital for further treatment. They even tracked down the surgeon who operated previously and sent him the scans for his opinion. Neither of the neurosurgeons contacted said that it was serious enough to require immediate attention.

Through several changes of hospital shifts of both nurses and doctors my vital signs were monitored, lights were flashed in my eyes, various examinations were repeatedly conducted, and questions were asked to determine whether my cognitive ability had been affected. (The fact that I am able to sit here writing this tells me not much has changed.) After 40 hours in ER I was told I could go home and the hospital would contact me regarding follow up through the Neurology Outpatients Clinic.

The question I have to ask myself after this incident is: how would I have coped if my wife was still living with me and I was still her carer? Or looking at it from her perspective , how would she have coped? I have been back at home for 6 days now. Honestly speaking I feel a bit fragile, I still have a headache but nowhere near as severe as it was in the beginning. I am doing the minimum needed to keep myself as far as food and drink. Anything that needs any special effort or strain is on the “do later” list. I rest frequently each day, often falling asleep on the couch.

In an earlier entry in my blog I wrote about one morning when my wife got out of bed before me and realised she didn’t know what to do without me guiding her. That admission led to having an Aged Care Assessment, and the subsequent admission to the residential care home a few months later. Right now I am very thankful that my wife is settled into the care home routine, she is being very well cared for, and has even called it “home”. She knows nothing about what happened on NYE, nor has she noticed the black eye when I have visited. The carers and nursing staff know what has happened to me and agree with me that my wife should not know.

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