Philosophy of The Big Society

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Thursday, 6 August 2009

If I hadn't have laughed

I would have bawled me eyes out.

Went to visit Dad in the 'improved' local acute unit. The manager, in a conversation earlier in the day, said I would find positive changes in the place. Hmmmm...

I tried....I really did.... to spot the positive changes but they weren't there. I saw lots of signs such as 'The West Wing'. I was neither thrilled or upset by those but the initial approach on arriving there of 15 feet wire fences and barriers started to give me the heebies. I had to remind myself that I wasn't entering a high secure unit.

Dr J and I were informed on arrival that we had to sign in. Fair enough but when I asked to borrow a pen, the receptionist looked at me like I was a piece of shit. I think that goes with the job!!

We were then ushered into a side room and asked to wait for Dad. It was a pretty humid day and it felt like being in a sauna.

Dad was ushered in. For the love of all things sacred, I nearly wept. He was even more debilitated than I imaged. I can't explain it properly and won't attempt to. I grabbed Dr J's hand and rallied best as. We did manage to get through his mail (which he had asked me to bring from home) but he seemed disorientated and distracted. He kept asking for a tonic to pick him up. If only it was that simple. he wouldn't be in that place.

I kept thinking I was going to faint. I was sweating profusely and whereas Dad's blood pressure (which the nurse took 3 times due to him saying he felt so weak) seemed dangeroulsy low to me, I felt mine go through the ceiling.

There were communication issues (understatement)...the staff nurse had a strong African accent and my father is very hard of hearing. I ended up playing intepreter. When the option of PRN came up...I had to explain to Dad what PRN meant and the nurse asked me if Dad had a hearing problem. Er yes and no he wasn't just being rude or evasive. At one point Dad got aggi and started pacing but then got dizzy so I held him and sat him back down.

Due to heat in room and Dad getting aggi, I suggested we go into the garden area to get some fresh air. I asked the nurse and was told that Dad could go but visitors were not allowed. For fekk sake. Since when did units become even more like prisons? My last stay in there is a memory I could do without but even back then visitors were allowed to sit with me in the garden. I guess is another one of those essential Health and Safety measures. Although not sure essential to whom.

I made a joke about Colditz being more accommodating and mimicked a duck walk...I had this image of staff in Natzi uniforms and I laughted (maybe a bit too hysterically) but it was either that or kick off.

All I knew was I had to get the hell out of there. So Dr J and me said our goodbyes. I gave Dad a hug and said I would ring him and be back at the weekend. Am hoping by then I am less spooked by the thought of going there again. Outside I was shaking. Both Dr J and me have too many bad experiences and that visit did nothing to change my mind about mental health services and how inappropriate the so called modernisation programme is for the mentally ill.

It seems to revolve around risk assessing anything therapeutic or human out of these places and demoting people with illness to 'dangerous animals' that must be contained. Now I fully appreciate that Dad is in no fit state to be allowed to roam around freely. If his illness isn't to be trusted (and right now it can't be) then the affects the medication are having on him are equally limiting his capacity to function. Yeah! Maybe the meds will work. MAYBE!!!! Even if they is very early days and very early days on strong meds (his being Dipixol) are ones in which he needs alot of monitoring (for physical reactions) and support due to debilitation.

After a rather fraught couple of days, on my arrival back home....I have been reassured that Dad is not due home leave. I won't go into details but I was led to believe he was being sent out Weds (yesterday). That beggared belief really but after frantic phone calls to the Director... for sure, for now, he is not going anywhere and is better off there. That is saying something because, and I mean this, I would rather be dead than have to go back there again.

I am not sure now that I made the right decision....but what else could I do? Let him die? Perhaps that would have been a merciful release. I can't tell and I only hope that Dad gets through this and to a point where it isn't total torture for him to be alive and constant mind fuck for me.

Last night I spoke to Dr J about moving. Is a pipe dream at the moment but at some point I would like to move away from this place and the area. Way too many bad memories. I am not sure that Dr J would come with me and I am not sure that if he did it would benefit either of us but is a dream I am going to hang on to. Sometimes the dream of a better future is all that there is to hang on to.


  1. Hi Mandy
    Sounds awful, wasn't either aware your Dad was admitted, glad you had Dr J to support you. Units are horrible, at least your Dad is being monitored and fed etc and he wasn't coping well at home was he? Take care, sending hugs. x

  2. Hi Mandy

    So sorry you are going through all this now. I was hoping things had improved for you after your trip away. The worry over your dad has been stressful for you for a long time now and this latest situation doesn't help at all. Is there any sign of a better long term place for him with more support but without the nastyness of the acute unit?
    I hope you are not letting all this get you down too much as your own health is just as important in all this.
    Will be thinking of you.
    Take care

  3. Hi Lareve

    Dad was transferred to local acute unit on Friday.

    It was pants visit. Am bit less wired up about it now but on phone to Director told him that the next time I get attitude from staff I will challenge it, then and there. He said he hoped it wouldn't get to that as he was going to mail the Director of Acute Care Services.

    I can see it ending up as a "he said she said scenario" with staff coming the innocent if questioned about it. Don't give a stuff about that...I am not taking any more shit.

    The good news..such that Dad was eating well enough and was getting better hours sleep.

    I am seriously looking to a future elsewhere. I love Derbyshire and the friends I have there are amazing. Lots of practicalities to work out .....not least of all being the funding of a move but it is like a seed in my mind and if I feed it enough it might become a reality.

    Hugs to you too x

  4. Hi Jill

    Nothing new in "going through it". Sadly, I have not built up immunity..all I can do is try distraction therapy and look to a new life at some point.

    The Director who is keen for Dad to be moving on, but when the time is right, has said that he will get Dad's Care Co-ordinator to contact me about 'discharge options' and other living environments.

    To be quite honest...I would rather a meeting between the Director, My MP, Dad's Advocate and myself took place. That being after the Advocate had spoken to Dad..and maybe that would be at a future point when Dad is compus. He is in no position to know what sort of environment he would like to be in at present. He is still riddled with thoughts of suicide.

    I am really tired of talking to different people..over and over..about the same thing.

    My view has not changed in that I think he needs a long term 24/7 care environment. Everyone else in the equation seems to be playing politics. Not interested.

    For time to take some sedation...make a hot choccy and veg out in front of the tv.

    Hope things are going good in your part of the world.


  5. Mandy you did the right thing. Your Dad was in trouble and you had to get him to the hospital, that was that. As horrid as that place sounds it's going to be a temporary stay and lets hope by the time he leaves he will have adjusted to suitable meds and be in a better frame of mind than when he entered. I truly hope so.

    I think I would have had a melt down during that visit too. If you said you were going to faint would she still have refused the garden? I'm shocked by that. It's not a prison and tough crap if it's inconvenient.

    I love your dream. How fantastic if you made it a reality?! A total change might make things feel so much better. Lets hang on to hope, maybe those dreams can become reality somewhere down the line.

    Take care of yourself sweet lady.

    Big hugs XXX

  6. Evening CC

    I did do the right thing because to have not got the ambulance would have been assisted suicide and I am not in a position to make those kinds of decisions in regards to another person's life.

    In fact I shouldn't really be taking that much responsibility at all. I do it, in the absence of.... As ever... and like most others who find themselves in similar positions.

    I am not so shocked now...I am angry..really angry at the way people are being treated and a line was crossed, with me, and so no more being polite and then trying to ignore rudeness and disrespect. It will be a case of "What is your problem because I don't want to be having to deal with it".

    About five minutes back got a text from one of my friends in Derbyshire. They sold 3 of my cards today for a total of £9. That was good going. I tend to undersell myself..I think they are doing the opposite. Fine by me.

    yep, agree, let us hang on to hope.

    Love and hugs x

  7. Good for you hunny! Take NO shit! It's an excellent attitude and one I try to apply on a daily basis.

    Congratulations on your card sales. See, everyone says they are gorgeous, and they are easily worth the money for the time and love poured into them. Well done. May you sell many many more Xx