This caring malarkey is a 24 hour thing, and the last 24 hours have been…challenging.
19:15 – I notice MW’s catheter isn’t draining, which is not unusual but it’s happened three times this month, which *is* unusual – so, I start doing what I can to help. By this I mean I changed the bag to get rid of any blockages there, rolled MW a couple of times to see if a positional change would make a difference, and gave the tube a gentle wiggle at its entry point into her abdomen to see if that helped. No change.
20:00 – I ring district nurse (DN) overnight team. They arrive about 15 mins later and try (not that hard, it has to be said) to change the catheter. They can’t do it. MW must go to hospital. As she has this grade 4 pressure sore on her bum, she needs an ambulance to be able to transport her safely – besides, the DNs had left the catheter in but had left it unstable. Apparently, this meant that there could be an eruption at any point, given the right circumstances. Lovely. So, they call a non-emergency ambulance – it’ll be with us “within the hour”.
02:00 – Following three phone calls assuring us we’d not been forgotten, the ambulance arrives. I carry MW off the bed and place her onto the stretcher, and she is taken to hospital.
By 05:10, an on call urology Dr had changed catheter twice (!) and MW had had two bladder scans performed. The catheter had been changed but wasn’t draining. Actually, this isn’t so unusual directly after insertion. I especially didn’t think anything untoward had happened given the time of night and the fact that MW had only had a small amount of liquid to drink. Dr gave the choice of staying until drainage begins or go home and if regular DN notices anything odd, back to hospital. MW says she wants to go home and an ambulance is arranged to bring MW home.
My Mum (who insisted on coming with us to the hospital because she “wouldn’t be able to sleep anyway”) was shattered so I brought her back home then drove back to hospital, ready to wait with MW until the ambulance is ready. When I get back to the room in A&E, MW has changed her mind and just wants to get back home to sleep. I get a nurse to bring a wheelchair. I lift MW off the stretcher onto the chair. While MW’s in my arms, the nurse notices that MW has messed and cleans her up. I get MW into the chair and the nurse takes her to the front of A&E while I get the car. I lift MW off the chair and struggle like hell to get her into the car. Nurse accompanying us to the door asks me “Do you do that every day?” "Erm… yes.“ "Oh my God, I’m filling up here watching you”. I have no idea what else to say. So, I thank her and drive home, doing all the lifts in reverse on arriving home. By now, it’s 0630, and I’m exhausted.
So, we’re at home and, after about 90 mins sleep, the regular DN calls with specialist wound nurse (TVN) for a scheduled visit to look at the sore. There’s still no catheter drainage. I explain to the nurses what happened overnight. I roll MW onto her side so the TVN can inspect the pressure sore and change the dressing and…
WE CAN SEE THE BALLOON END OF THE CATHETER STICKING OUT BETWEEN MW’s LEGS!
(Image from: http//www.registerednursern.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/supra-pubic-catheter.jpg)
The hospital Dr has inserted the catheter into the hole in her abdomen, kept pushing until the balloon on the end has come out of MW’s body, between her legs. (I’m sure you don’t need me to be any more graphic than that). The nurses are aghast. One of them had heard of this happening but had never seen it. The other was appalled. Fortunately, they were able to change the catheter properly with minimum fuss, and were kind enough to help me clean MW and the bed after it drained about a litre of liquid straight away.
Each of our gasts are well and truly flabbered at what happened. I am more relieved than angry (and tired) about it all. As of right now (01:06, 29/08), everything is still working well, and we’re all trying to catch up on sleep. I’ve napped through the day and hope to get a good 7-8 hours now.
There’s no 9-5 with being a carer – it’s truly a 24 hours a day job.