“Are you comfortable in the chair? I can move you into this bed here, or we can wait until you’re upstairs and I can move you then.” The porter was patient, friendly and warm. It was welcomed after the day Hazel and Catherine were having. “I’m ok where I am,” Hazel said. “In fact, because I haven’t moved around, my leg has actually fallen asleep and it’s the best its felt all day. I’m not going to move a muscle right now.” Catherine just sighed. “Mom, the reason your leg feels better is because they finally gave you some medication for it.” The porter just smiled gently and began wheeling Hazel up to the elevator.
Catherine looked at her phone. Her dad had called twice since she phoned to give him the update. Charlie had left messages to say that he was on his way by bus with toiletries, extra clothing and some books for Hazel. They weren’t sure how long she would need to stay, but it helped to be organized. Catherine wondered if she should call John and James. They were two hours ahead in Ontario and it was getting rather late. “Better not to worry them. Dad or I can call them tomorrow.” Catherine thought to herself.
The hallways were bustling with activity. Staff in scrubs ran to and fro with clipboards, monitoring machines, linens and little white containers of supplies. Gurneys were lined along the walls, all occupied. It was definitely busy. Catherine understood now why they had waited so long to be seen, for the tests and to finally get admitted. There were more patients than room right now.
The porter was busily chatting away with Hazel as they made their way to the elevator. “Caffwhhhhin….” Hazel’s voice trailed off and she got quiet all of a sudden. Her head slumped to the side and her arm fell to the side of the chair. “Ma’am…ma’am!” The porter cried out. Catherine left her trail of thoughts and ran over to her mother, who was unresponsive.
“Nurse! Someone!” She called out frantically. The porter had hurried over to the nursing station, but Catherine hadn’t noticed. Everything seemed fuzzy. She couldn’t think. “Stay calm,” she told herself as she held her mom’s hand. “Mom! Mom!” She called out, in a feeble attempt to rouse her.
“Code Blue,” Catherine heard someone shout out. She wasn’t sure from where. There was a whirlwind of activity and she felt herself being ushered aside. She let go of Hazel’s hand.
“I knew something was wrong! I knew it!” she cried out…to no one in particular…but to everyone who could hear.
Today’s story was not a fun one to write, but it does point to what can happen when seemingly small issues remain unchecked.
As much as family members expect housing staff to be aware of their loved one’s health conditions, hidden symptoms are not always detectable or easy to spot. Hazel had no physical interaction with any staff members. Charlie and Hazel live in a setting that offers them hospitality services, but they do not receive healthcare supports. There would be no way for anyone to know there was an issue in the making. She was also away at Catherine’s home for a week, and Catherine only noticed her mother’s swollen leg upon helping Hazel into bed.
Health crises can happen in a private home, in a congregate living setting, or even in a hospital. The reason they are crises is because they come with little warning, or symptoms are unreported.
As much as we speak about preventative measures, there is also a need for pre-planning. Regardless of the setting you may live in, your age, and your current health – what is your plan should a crisis occur? Can people access the information they need to help you? What are your plans if your future health needs change? Who will be responsible? What will you want? What are your wishes?
We’d like to hear your thoughts as this is a very important topic.