Over the next 6 days I became a frequent flier at Derriford, this time for dad not me. I set the alarm for 6.30am each morning and made my way to car park A, easy access as it was early. My aim was to be with dad in the morning to help him with breakfast and be there when rounds happened.
Just as with Lynher Ward, Meldon Ward had it’s own rhythm. a) check patients are still alive, b) encourage them to eat breakfast – porridge or toast, c) encourage patients to wash or help them to shower, bring commode, bring macerated basin of soapy water, d) encourage patients to have a cup of tea/coffee/juice and e) encourage patients to present well for rounds.
Meldon Ward is a medical ward which appeared to be mainly full of very elderly and frail patients. My dad looked really, really well compared to most of them. The saline drip had had the desired effect and dad was rehydrated and less muddled. He was absolutely knackered and said there had been no rest on MAU (Thrushall) or here. This was a pattern which was to remain as either bleepers, equipment or bells went off day and night.
About 9am rounds happened and dad was assessed by a young SHO from Antrim Northern Ireland and a consultant from Spain. The SHO was very gentle, he was waiting for blood tests to see if it was an infection which had caused the problems of the previous days and the consultant called for a CT scan. In due course two porters arrived and we went off together with dad in the bed for him to go through the donut scanner. His head was to be scanned to see if there was anything untoward happening there.
Poor dad he was so keen to get home, as Tuesday merged into Wednesday and then Thursday he appeared to be more and more tired. His sense of humour returned though as he asked me to get humbugs and an elastic band to see if he could fire the sweeties into the permanently open mouth of the old boy in the opposite bay. Every afternoon mum would arrive on her crutches, having been picked up by Nick and she would then sit with dad. All his good work from being the Royal Marines and as the Almoner in the Royal Marine lodge was paid back in spades as he had many friends come and visit him.
On Thursday afternoon the county Antrim SHO wanted to talk to mum and I. He knew about the do not resuscitate CPR form dad had signed and he took us into the Sister’s office. Once there he talked through dad’s condition and recommended that we think about no further active treatment (blood transfusions) as they were no longer effective. The doctors had already changed some of dad’s medications and he had stopped taking any blood thinners. These had contributed to his anemia they were sure but the flip side .. they helped to control the heart failure. My mum was incredible in she sat with dad and held his hand and laid the path for the difficult conversation that was to come.