When my wife moved into residential care I wrote that I probably would not make any new posts on here. This is mainly because my role as sole caregiver was no longer a valid claim. Since my episode in early January (refer to Bleeding Brains) I have to say how glad I am that she is in good hands at her care home.
After quite a bit of messing waiting for a hospital outpatients appointment I was referred finally to a neurosurgeon. He required another brain scan, the result of which was that I needed surgery within 4 days to drain a sub dural haematoma which had developed. After 4 days in the hospital neurosurgical ward and 7 days in a rehabilitation hospital I came home. One of the most inconvenient outcomes of this diagnosis is that I am not allowed to drive until the doctor gives me the all clear.
Before the surgery I informed the care home of my situation. I also asked if I should tell my wife what was happening. Because I visit her 4-5 times each week I know that she looks for my arrival. The advice I received was not to say anything to her. The reason for that advice was that if she remembers being told what was going on she would worry about it and become upset.
My wife and I are blessed in that we have a lot of very caring friends. They drew up a roster for visiting my wife, all of whom knew that she didn’t know why I wasn’t visiting.
When I returned home I started visiting again. The first time I visited I explained why I hadn’t been for nearly 2 weeks. At first she couldn’t understand what I was saying. Eventually the fact registered with her and she became quite emotional. After reassuring her I was alright, even with the restrictions placed on my activities, she became calmer and with a bit of distraction with some chocolate, things got back to being a normal visit.
Now it is 6 weeks since I had surgery, and when I visit her it is only with the help of Ken, the husband of one of the other residents who lives nearby, who picks me up in his car. Each time I visit, when it comes time to leave, I have to explain that I have to go when Ken leaves, because I am not allowed to drive. Some times my wife asks why can’t I drive. Then I have to explain again about having had brain surgery.
One of the reasons I started this blog was to inform other caregivers what being a carer has required of me, and that by relating my experiences here, they might glean something that might be useful in their role. I had no idea of knowing in August last year, when my wife was admitted to the care home, that bleeding brains would take up so much of my time this year. If I had still been her carer in January she would have been relocated into emergency respite care. There is an emergency telephone number to make contact to arrange that care. It can be anywhere the first available bed is located. Similarly that arrangement would have been made while I was in hospital. In my experience people with dementia do not cope very well with change. Knowing my wife as I do after 46 years of marriage, I know that those changes would have been devastating for her well-being and self-esteem. I am so thankful that she is where she is, that she is well cared for and secure. As the care home nurse said to me before I was admitted to hospital, “you take care of yourself, and we will continue to take good care of your wife”.