Mouth Open Incredulity.

Sorry folks this is a more serious post this week though I won’t deny there’s humour ( maybe) to be found in it. A week and a half ago my ‘bro’ informed me a friend had been taken to hospital with a stroke. Mike said he was coming up to see me so we could visit together. I’m not going to say the stroke was a major surprise since our friend has had heart problems, has angina, diabetes and atheriosclerosis. I won’t tack a partridge in a pear tree on the end in case you think it’s his Christmas shopping list and I’m jealous. Anyway, a week last Thursday evening Mike arrived and before we went to visit our friend on the Friday he filled me in on the saga.

It seems our friend has woken on the Wednesday morning feeling a bit under the weather but wasn’t able to put a finger on the reason. ( hardly a surprise since I think one arm was affected). He’d gone off to DRIVE to the supermarket to shop, despite having done his shopping the day before, had reached there safely but stood in the doorway with no idea where he was or why he was there. He then decided to go home, unfortunately he couldn’t remember where home was. The God of ‘Crazy’ was looking down that day and reminded him that his sat-nag system would hold directions home. Amazingly it did and DRIVING again he actually made it. Still feeling unwell he decided to go back to bed.

A while later he got up and realised there must be something wrong as he still didn’t feel right. How someone’s brain functions under these circumstances I will never fathom but he decided to phone the doctor. He got through to the receptionist. For those of you who don’t live in the UK there is a breed of receptionist who regard the doctors as their cubs and protect them accordingly. They ask innumerable questions regarding your need to see a doctor which includes a questionnaire as to whether you have ever, do now or will in the future,  harbour any ill will towards said doctors. The end result of this phone interview was ‘Come In’.

Embolic Stroke









This wasn’t what I expected to hear. My reasons for this will become apparent. He DROVE to the surgery after once again getting the whereabouts from his sat-nag. Had it not been for the fact he has to go quite frequently he could still be driving around now. Anyway the doctor took one look at him and listened to him, sathim down and sent for an ambulance to rush him to hospital. Our friend asked about his thrummer and the clever doctor advised him his car would be well taken care of while he was away. That’s mainly the reason I was incredulous at the receptionist asking our friend to come in rather than arranging a home visit ( yes folks out there, we still have those over here).

On the Friday Mike and I visited the hospital and though out friend was able to stand unsteadily he was suffering from aphasia. (  a disturbance of the comprehension and formulation of language caused by dysfunction in specific brain regions. This class of language disorder ranges from having difficulty remembering words to losing the ability to speak, read, or write ).  The visit was a shock. It was frustrating for our friend seeing the lack of comprehension on our faces when he asked Mike how his flimflamgorgle was. I was ready to suggest the cream he’d used was taking the swelling down , but Mike himself was playing twenty questions trying to guess what the actual word wanted was. A three-minute conversation took at least an hour and our friend was becoming more frustrated and excitable the longer it took us to guess. When he said he remembered my frit it wasn’t a French fry he’d once seen me eat he meant but my Ju. Ah well, she’s been called worse things.

By the time visiting was over we were all worn out. Mike and I left promising to call in and sort out the dog before we went home. That meant travelling a good way further away from home to do so and to check all was well before heading for home again. The entire car journey in both directions was spent talking about how lucky he, and all other road users, had been on that Tuesday. Saturday was pretty much a repeat except our friend’s sister was there at his bedside. She was sharing our doggie duty by seeing to the early shift. By a series of sign language, gestures no woman ( especially a sister) should ever see, and guessing games with dromfangfoodles we managed to get through the afternoon after which we went to  supermarket for dog food, cigarettes ( yes, he was smoking in the hospital) and a quick look for a gift for my son-in law in the sales ( I’m physically unable to walk past a sign that says SALE or I’d be poorly), we ran his sister home and went to see to the dog. That done we headed back to the hospital to drop off the cigarettes and some pastilles to stimulate the salivary gland ( don’t even ask how we worked that one out), then headed home to eat. On Sunday morning Mike had to head off home again. It’s a couple of hundred miles as the crow flies but since our roads don’t do the straight lines that crows do, it takes him a while.

My bro and I keep in touch, so when I had a message on Wednesday it was nothing unusual until he told me that our friend was home. WHAT !! (No, I’ve not gone deaf, that was showing a new round of incredulity). What happens in stroke cases is that before the patient ( impatient) is discharged a doctor will decide he’s well enough to go, the social work team will take the patient ( impatient) home for a few hours to assess them. Can they manage stairs, can they make a cuppa without scalding themselves, do they know who they are etc. We had left our friend knowing this would happen and hoping that the assessment would show that he’d need a warden controlled bungalow or something smaller he could manage. However, we hadn’t taken into account our friends predilection for being a very impatient patient and leaving before that happened. So,  today Mike is here again and we’ve been over to visit our friend at home. His aphasia has improved remarkably so that now we can catch almost every swear word. He hasn’t informed his doctor he’s home( his sister is away and doesn’t know), he can’t manage his stairs easily but at least he can still make a coffee though he made mine too strong and didn’t put enough sugar in Mike’s. We think he’s come home too early since his memory is obviously affected too. He should stay there till he knows how we take our drinks and can serve them without spillage.

It’s obvious that our friend is really much improved but that his impatience could cost him dear in terms of help since he left early. Now we have to liaise with his sister to see if those assessments can still take place and he can be found a more suitable place to live. Some folks don’t help themselves do they~?



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38 responses to “Mouth Open Incredulity.

  1. Despite your charming twist, I wept through this. At least I could smile past the tears. I now have a 94 year old and a 76 year old. The 94 year old is still out on the loose. Ah, David. Julia the frit is so sweet of your friend to even think of her in his distress. Life, life, life. The opposite of death. What choices . . .

    • I’m sorry to have upset you Virginia but happy I could at least bring a slight smile to your lips, people usually take one look at me and do that. I was touched that his greeting was to tell me he remembered Ju at a time like that and found swallowing difficult round the apple that seemed to have lodged in my throat.
      I hope your 94 and 76 year olds don’t bring you worry though I’m not sure how I’d cope with a 94 year old on the loose.
      xxx Sending you Huge Hugs xxx

  2. Stroke victims, by the very nature of their condition, should never be allowed to leave the hospital by themselves until rehab is complete or the discharge needs are assessed? Who was the flimflamger who discharged him? It’s a shame that he probably doesn’t realize that he is not safe at home. I hope the social team or a home visit by the doc (yes that is VERY cool) can sort him out a bit SOON.

    • Like everywhere Lori, there are patients with no patience who decide when they’ve had enough and discharge themselves. It’s not in their best interests but they can’t be held against their will. I dare say he was probably on the point of discharge after an assessment but it would have been nice to know that was in the bag to ensure ongoing care at home.I hope the hospital will notify his GP that he’s home and get someone call in to him to see what home care needs he has, if any. If nothing else though he will need help finding an alternate place to live in case of future episodes.
      xxx Massive Hugs xxx

      • But could he talk and understand? I know you said he was better, but all better? I hope he has some family who can watch over him a bit. My parents and in-laws are across the street or about a mile away, so I am fortunate if I or they need something.
        Isn’t that amazing how the brain’s language center can get mucked up like that?

      • He’s talking much better and can be understood.He’s having no difficulty understanding what we say to him. I said he’s much better but I don’t think he’s quite right yet and feel he came out too early.His sister ill keep a close eye on him now she’s back and Mike says he’s coming up again next weekend so we’ll visit then. Your parents and in laws must be so grateful you’re so close by.
        It’s like having a computer virus keep messing things up with a particular part of the brain attacked dependant upon the type of stroke.It’s amazing it can be so specific isn’t it.
        xxx Massive Hugs xx

      • He is lucky to have friends who care so much about him. That is what we miss here and what I loved when I lived in England. Massive Hugs back!

  3. OH dear… this is why I plan to have plenty of hemlock to hand for when it’s needed….( for me )

    • Does it go well with omelettes? my fear is going downhill mentally so rapidly ( I can go further down than this ????) that I don’t realise it and begin not to recognise those I love so that in the end they no longer recognise me.A quick journey on my own terms is best.
      xxx Hugs galore xxx

  4. Oh dear! 😦 I hope things go well! My father has had several strokes, dealt with in hospital promptly, and his brain re-wired quickly, so he is coherent and manages quite well, though now he’s in an intermediate care home.

    • He’s certainly progressing well Shawn, though I think I for one would be happier had he stayed in long enough to be properly assessed. I’m glad your father s somewhere that can give prompt attention where needed and that his strokes of the past have been dealt with so well. Rewiring the brain is a delicate job.
      Sending you Huge Hugs xxxx

  5. I tapped the ‘like’ button for your writing and for the reminder to us all that we are co-creators of our own well being. There is an excellent book called ‘My Stroke of Insight’ written by a neuroscientist who had a stroke herself at a young age. Very readable and echoes much of what you described your friend experienced. Disturbing to us all to see loved ones with serious illnesses and more so if they are not able to help themselves. Thank you.

    • Many thanks for the ‘Like’ Ardy. It’s always lovely to have a new point of view and meet new friends. I haven’t heard of that book, maybe I should make sure my friend gets it. You’re right, it’s difficult to see friends with illnesses and find them unable to help themselves.
      xxx Hugs galore xxx

  6. Catherine Johnson

    Oh my that’s a crazy story! I hope he recovers fully. You must put that in one of your books 😉

  7. Sorry to hear about your friend and I agree he should not have been allowed to go home without rehab. You’re a good friend to him, David and I’m sure that’s appreciated. Did anyone take his car keys away?

    • Once he got to the doctor’s I believe they took his car keys until his sister could collect them. Of course he has it back now and has been shopping in it again. I won’t repeat that particular disaster. My fingers are crossed that some kind of rehab will happen at home and he’ll be stopped from driving by his own doctor until he’s fully well.
      Hugs Mary J. xxxxxxxx

  8. Best wishes for a full and quick recovery for your friend, David. He’s lucky to have friends like you.

    • Most people have friends like me Teagan, unless they get lucky. He’ll be delighted to know there are so many caring people out there if I ever dare tell him he was the subject of my blog post
      xxx Hugs galore xxx

  9. Yes we all hope that our friends will come through for us as you and your brother obviously did. How very sad this whole story is; from the unfeeling receptionist to the person who allowed the discharge from hospital – it’s totally amazing that he could have been allowed to leave. And what was his sister thinking returning his car keys to him. Apart from being a danger to himself in the car he is undoubtedly a menace on the roads. He must think he is completely recovered. My thoughts are with him in this time of stress.

    • Whatever WordPress says, I’m only going to answer once but I don’t mind if you read it twice. It is a sad story as is any tale where someone is ill ( unless you discount politicians). I’d have thought the receptionist a little dense rather than unfeeling, I have to guess that she didn’t realise he’d had a stroke. As for the hospital, in these days where people sue at the drop of a hat they can only advise strongly for fear of being accused of keeping someone against their will. It’s a very sad indictment on the times. His sister, well she credited him with more sense since he knew by then he’d suffered a stroke. But, not having any experience of them she didn’t expect him to be daft enough to drive after he got home. No-one did. He could actually have his license suspended because of it, until he’s been declared fully fit to drive again.It’s been a catalogue of errors but he must have thought himself well to try driving and must not have thought he posed a risk. Despite the inevitable argument I think his sister is removing the keys again .
      Thanks for dropping in Judith. xx Hugs Galore. xxxx

  10. WordPress playing games this morning. Meant to reply only once.

  11. I wish the best for your friend, and I thank you for an accurate account that also somehow managed to include funny details that kept the seriousness and vitality in balance. That’s a rare thinking and writing skill, and I’m so glad you shared it here.

    • Thanks so much Marylin, especially considering that’s something you bring to bear in your own writing about your mother. What could potentially be a fraught situation is tempered with a little humour and becomes bearable.I admire you greatly and knowing my memory, I think your suggestions should be my daughters credo for the future.
      xxx Huge Hugs xxx

  12. The G.O. and I have a few oldies in our family entourage… I get frustrated by both their behaviours and the vagaries of various medical “systems”. Attaining status in the upper age group doesn’t necessarily confer wisdom or even commonsense, nor do medical qualifications. Big sigh. It’s an unfortunate combination, usually exacerbated by stubbornness in lieu of capability in the patient. It’s so good of you and Mike to take an interest, and hopefully everyone will cope with new reality before serious disaster of any kind eventuates.

    • Ha Ella, Mike and I are the ‘Oldies’ in our entourage I think. I swear his father has a younger outlook than we do sometimes.
      I think now we’re all aware of the new realities, we can make sure everyone knows the likely outcomes of certain situations and have a better chance of making sue they don’t happen again.Now we can see patterns emerge we can head them off at the pass. The bulk of the work will fall on our friend’s sister as she lives close by and luckily does drive so she’s going to visit each morning to see how things stand. Mike has the phone and conversation will let him know how things are improving. I have the internet and skype for the wee hours when neither I nor my friend usually sleep, and his responses will tell me how he fares. He really is doing well, but we need to be sure the progress continues and should there be a chance of another stroke one or all of us should be able to do something straight away.
      I hope this situation isn’t one you and the G.O. are likely to encounter with your ‘Oldie Entourage’ though obviously you’ve both been tested in the past. I hope your current medical system is better than most should the occasion arise.
      Sending Huge Hugs xxxxxxxx

  13. I hope your friend is better now, David. I always thought this kind of stuff would only happen here in Brazil, where the medical system is so flawed and the staff is usually so overwhelmed and underpaid that most people are sent home to take care of themselves as soon as possible, or normally before that… Guess it’s the reality of the medical profession nowadays everywhere then…

    It’s sad but your narrative as usual made even a tough subject lighter. Hugs for you and your friend!

    • Thanks Renata, this is one time I’ll say I wouldn’t swap our health service for anywhere else. They may be under pressure but they still do a great job. My friend decided to come out before he was ready and against advice. I won’t deny accidents happen and people are sent out too soon but that’s the exception not the norm. For a free medical service I don’t think it can be beaten.
      I always try to make things a bit lighter when they’re grim since life has it’s ups and downs and I’m afraid of scaring my friends away if I’m writing about glum things. I try not to be inappropriate though.
      Ill carry hugs to him at the weekend but I know he’ll return them so I’ll let you have them now with some of my own.
      Hugs Galore to you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  14. What a story. As someone mentioned, what incredible friends you are. What a blessing that he has two advocates as well as a loving sister!

    The book “Stroke of Insight” is written by Jill Bolte Taylor. Here’s her fascinating Ted Talk:

    Dr. Taylor’s talk gave me some insight into my mother’s mind for the last 6 years of her life – post stroke. Mom seemed blissed out, yet didn’t have one ounce of interest in her passions in life. She never read another word, paid no attention to the Queen’s Christmas message, sniffed her nose at horse racing (before, she secretly made pretend bets and wouldn’t tell me how she was faring)and ignored the Indie 500 car races. I suspect she placed bets on those as well. Pre-stroke, she knew every jockey and race car driver by name and could cite their favourite meal. When I saw her devoid of all her vitality, I could hardly believe this woman, at age 89, wanted me to rent an RV so I could drive her to the Indie 500 in Vancouver.

    “Why an RV, Mom? I could find us a wheel chair!”

    “It’s my darned bladder, Darling.”

    I knew I wouldn’t feel comfortable driving, but we knew people who could drive us. She backed away from the idea. Something was not up to par. She had her stroke a few months later.

    • It can be a real horror to find someone post-stroke has lost their passion for living.It’s as though all the life has been sucked out of them. I don”t know whether that’s the group who suffer from a blood clot or those that have a blockage due to furring of the arteries, but it’s cruel whichever it is. Our friend has been extremely lucky with the warning he’s had and the care he received in Glan Clwyd Hospital. There’s a chance he can avoid more by doing certain things like smoke less ( if he won’t give up ) and take more exercise. H’s already supposed to do this for his heart condition. I’m sorry that it wouldn’t have helped your mother.
      It’s sort of a blessing that your Mum would have at least been oblivious to the change in her by the sound of it, but how devastating it must have been for you to come to terms with a new personality. I’m sure at least those last six years would have been happy for her having you nearby.
      xxx Huge Hugs xxx

  15. That quirky British humour that laughs at slipping on a banana skin and dying is so in evidence in your posts. Love your humor and underlying pathos.

  16. How is your brother Grimm, GL? My mom mentioned something about a TIA or transient ischemic attack ( ) Hopefully this is what he had. In many cases it is. She says, now is the time to get his diet in order and get him on a daily low dose aspirin. Doctors say that a large percentage of people who have TIA’s go on to have an actual stroke within a 3-6 month period.Usually his speech will slowly return with work. Especially if it was a TIA. If it was a stroke, speech therapy will help him re-learn what he has lost. Mom worked with stroke patients for 7 years.

    I hope your best buddy feels better fast and isn’t too stubborn about his care. ( like you :D) Give him extra hugs from me!!

    Love and hugs!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

  17. Ha Ha. That wasn’t my Brother Grimm Spidey it was a mutual friend. He did have a stroke but is recovering now. He luckily takes aspirin daily because he has a couple of very big heart attacks a few years ago. They constantly check his diet because he also has type II diabetes.
    My Best Bud is OK but I’ll pass your good wishes on when I tell him it was just an excuse really to have a dig at me for being stubborn Me?????
    As if !!!!!
    Huge Hugs to you and all for Yvonne and I. The patter of tiny feet soon. About Aug 12 th maybe.

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