to mater 2002:
Date last edited:
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, December 5th:
Thursday, a day of disaster and frustration. Firstly, I was up out of bed, looking at the
ongoing construction work just opposite. There were knocks on the wall, that I presumed were
coming from Mum. Not so, it was Dad requiring help since Mum was collapsed
onto the floor, between her bed and the dresser. I asked Dad to move out of the
way, and picked her up. We then got her to the toilet and back to bed. She
seemed extremely weak. This is a summary of what followed today:
1. Firstly, I
phoned Dr Rambert, but his surgery is closed on Thursdays.
2. Next, I phoned the PsychoGerries, and spoke with Louise Roy. She agreed with my opinion that
her condition required hospitalisation. She said that she would fax them
the case history.
3. I phoned 911, and
the Paramedics came by at about 0930hrs. Eventually, she was talked onto the
gurney and taken to the Civic. We were told that we would be phoned.
4. We advised Louise and
waited, and waited, and waited. Dad went out to pay his Rev Canada installment
and that was it. No phone calls, until about 1630hrs when Dr Parker, at the
Civic, phoned and wondered if one of us was going in to inform them of Mum's
condition. I gave her a lot of information over the phone, and was told we would
be informed by phone later.
5. Just before 1800hrs
Louise phoned and said that she had had phone messages that the Civic staff could
not contact us!! At this time I was told by Louise that Mum was probably suffering
from internal blood loss of some type. We had not been apprised of this before.
This was decided after looking at her blood test results of a week ago.
another Doctor at the Civic phone us who required information: a repeat of the
earlier conversation. We were told she was going to have a PET scan. Nothing
was mentioned about possible colonoscopy or other test.
7. The results of the
tests that were given to Mum were simply that, apart from her confused state, she was suffering
only from anæmia and that the PET scan had not shown stroke or other damage.
8. We were told that
she would likely be staying overnight, but that the psychiatric unit would
be checking on her later.
9. We were phoned by
the Psychiatric aide twice to determine what was going on. I confirmed
that he had received the case history, sent in by Louise Roy.
10. So, the result was Dad and
I eating takeout from the Mekong with him in worrying mode all day long. Then,
at 2300hrs we were asked to come and bring her home, because Dad needing a rest
from this overall situation was deemed immaterial, and they needed spare beds.
Actually, it is procedure to eject mental patients if possible, because they
have had a history of people being abandoned there.
11. When we arrived and
found her in the observation ward she was on an IV. Mum told us that she
hadn't eaten, but we had been told she had. She said the food they
gave her was horrid.
12. She was delighted to
see Dad, and held his hand all the way home, him sitting in the back with
'I am feeling as if I am burning all over,' says Mum. Well, if only she would
eat. Her fatigue can be directly attributable to her anæmia, or its cause. So, Dad had to
lead her to the toilet, and he has chores to do, including shopping. I noticed
that when he wasn't in the room that Mum seemed capable of fetching her own
water. We shall see.
The system is not capable
of dealing with my parents' needs, is it? It seems to lack granularity.
I apprised Dr Rambert of
yesterday's events. Dad spoke with Louise Roy. What next, pray?
Saturday December 7th.,
2002: The final day:
1. I woke to the sound
of Dad replying to Mum's statement that the devils had covered her with
water, and she was sopping wet. In other words, at 0915hrs, I heard that
she had peed the bed. I went around the corner to see, and Mum was lying
on the floor, probably upset with Dad's tone of voice. She had been
2. I told Dad that I
would have a quick shower and then do the wash, including Mum's bed
I took the stuff down, noticing that Mum was now sitting on a chair in the
bedroom, and had risen from the floor on her own. I said that I would call the ambulance
because she wasn't looking good, and Mum told me strongly not to do so, several times. I told Dad that I would
when I came back upstairs. Dad went into the kitchen, to start making
3. I came up from the
laundry room and noticed that Mum was having a glass of water. But, she was
too weak to hold it. She managed to put it back onto the dresser. I saw that she seemed to be breathing fine and left
her for a while to continue with the laundry. After I put the wash into the dryer I came back and
noticed that she was breathing really stertorously and went to call the
ambulance, because I couldn't get her to respond to me. When I had done
so, I discovered that she was jerking a little having placed her head on
the side of the dresser. She was warm and I thought she was still
breathing. I realise now that I had seen her die.
4. Four paramedics, two
firemen, and two police officers turned up.
5. I had phoned at
about 10.05hrs, and the paramedics were there within fifteen minutes. One
of the paramedics, who in my opinion was out of place, and totally
obnoxious, demanded that I provide him with her medical history. She has only been with Dr Rambert of late,
maybe in total one year. Most of our worries
have been with her mental state, so I really did not know what to give him.
He was sarcastic when I said that all I had was the note from the
emergency department of the Civic for last Thursday. I wrote down a
minimal amount and gave one of them that together with the paperwork we had from the
Civic emergency. That included a note to arrange a meeting for her anæmia, to be
made within a fortnight.
6. I overheard the tall
paramedic, the one who spoke to me, tell someone else that she was DA
(Dead on Arrival). Dad tried to see her, but they kept him from the
bedroom. They left a large packet of used medical stuff when they left. I
saw them trying to resuscitate her. Simply following procedure, I presume.
7. Dad and I then had a
chat with the two police officers that turned up, probably because the paramedic
wondered about foul play. We gave the police a rundown of what had
transpired and they seemed fine about the situation.
8. Eventually, the
paramedics came out with Mum, with her on a drip. The tall paramedic then
demanded that I, in hearing of everyone, gave my recollection of events.
When I stuttered with my output, he gave me the circular hand, hurry up,
motion. I glared at him and he semi-apologised.
9. The paramedics
removed Mum and the tall paramedic told us there was no need to hurry ourselves as he
went through the door.
10. The police stayed
behind and gave us a phone number for support services should we need help. They were
decent people. They left and we waited for a phone call.
11. That came at about
10.45hrs when Tabitha Rogers phoned to ask us to go to the Civic
immediately. I told Dad this confirmed my thinking her dead. We drove up
and were immediately met by Tabitha, a care worker. She put us in a room
and told us the Doctor Farion would see us. They both soon came back and asked us about Mum and why I had called for the
ambulance. I gave him the story, including the emergency last Thursday. He said that the coroner did not think
that in all likelihood an autopsy was necessary, but asked us if we wanted
one. We mentioned
her dementia, etc., and said that they could do an autopsy if they wished. They
did not want to, and neither did we.
either they suspected that I had done something wrong before Mum died this
morning, and were trying to find inconsistencies in my recollections,
apropos the Paramedic's impropriety. Or, they thought
that we had grounds to be upset with the Civic for the fracas last
13. My opinion should be
obvious. But, I am angry, upset and worried about Dad.
14. Finally, we went and saw Mum, after she had been
prepared for us, and then drove home.
15. When we were home, I made some phone calls
and we then went for a walk. On that trip we visited the Main Library on Laurier
whereupon I emailed a
few people, but not everyone, and not well, because I was in a right state. Lynn
and Peter phoned, as did Michelle, my estranged wife. I spoke with a couple of my
What follows on
Today, Sunday 8th
December, we had a phone call
from Sarah, my eldest daughter. But, this follows:
1. Rather significantly, another
call came from the home care worker
who had recently started visiting Mum.
2. It strikes me as rather
odd that Mum can be sent home on Thursday evening by the Psych staff at the Civic, after the Med
doctors had thought she would be staying at least overnight.
3. It is more than a
little odd that they can presume she is fine and
then she dies within two days.
4. Saturday, the very day she died, was the day the home care worker
to cancel her visits to Mum. Gide (sic) was kind enough to offer her condolences to
Dad, which were much appreciated. However, my concern is the rapidity with which they ejected Mum from
emergency on Thursday, as usual it was late in the evening, and then cut off the care service on
a weekend day.
5. What an indecent rush to save pennies and show seemingly no consideration for the
remaining members of the family involved. This was a disaster not only
for my mother, but also my father.
His health has been suffering, too. Not that he admits it. Stress can be a killer.
I know my opinion is not
worth much, but I, and my father, had been trying endlessly to get something
proper done for
her. What a pathetically poor system we had to deal with in this city, I do declare.
Other than a specific few, I am not casting aspersions at individuals, but
certainly at the bureaucratic mess that blasts the lives of many of those in
need. One only has to read any daily paper.
In several conversations
with me and to our relatives, Dad has repeatedly said he is glad that Mum never had to go
into a home. He was really worried that he would die and then she would have
suffered in one of those prisons for smelly ancients. Even if I could look after
her in other ways, I can't see myself doing her ablutions, even were I allowed to do so.
(I subsequently discovered that a male child is not required to do so, at least
Dad is tearful,
frequently, and has today gone for a walk to clear his mind, no doubt to think about his
life with her. They had ups and downs, as do all couples, but he really loved
her. In her inimitable fashion, she loved him, even when she was ill of late.
She was so delighted to see him on Thursday, when we picked her up. Damn, damn,
damn, I am tearful just writing this!
Of course, Mum had repeatedly
stated that she wanted to die. Nevertheless, no matter what her wishes were, on Saturday, watching the
charade, Dad was fearful that they would resuscitate her and she would be left
as a mental cabbage.
Thank God that proved impossible. I am really upset that my mother has gone, but
I am really glad that she is now out of the complete mess her life was these
last months. Mum declined for years, in reality, but the pace increased
over the past few months.
hope that you realise that a lot of my sarcasm, present within the totality of this chronicle, was well meant, and that I was as
frustrated with her as anyone else might well be. But, I also remember her as she was in
the dim and distant past. I do remember her when she was
raising Lynn and me, and all of our holidays, and the really good Shrove Tuesday
pancakes, and the wonderful Bramley apple, and lemon meringue, pies. Cupboard love, what?
1. Not insignificantly, Dad told me a
story yesterday. It seems that, in his opinion, Mum's father Robert was also
psychic. When I was very small, on holiday in Belfast, Robert told my mother, in
my father's hearing, that I would be with her at the very end of her life. Dad
said, 'See, it is really odd how things happen sometimes'. My response to
hearing this was utter
shock. I am not a psychic, although I have had a few odd experiences, but
Schrödinger's Cat, nicht wahr?
2. When I was in bed last
night I could not stop thinking about seeing her lying on the floor and then on
the chair, and finally realising her stertorous breathing was a sign of her death,
happening in front of me. Shows how ignorant of first aid I am. But what could I
do? She had laid her head down on the edge of the dresser, and I said to her
that she shouldn't, that it would hurt her. Was I not a bloody useless twit?!
Saturday, December 7th
evening there was a phone call from Louise Roy of the PsychoGerries: she was
upset about the whole issue and shocked that Mum was dead. What transpired is odd, since Louise stated that
the Civic had been made aware that Mum continually refused to eat correctly. Also, that it
had been posited that an invasive procedure of either oral or rectal nature
should be made to determine
the cause of her anæmia. The cause of her red corpuscle loss would, we had
thought, be discovered. Nothing was ever done. Note that
her hæmoglobin count was appreciably lower at the hospital than that shown in the blood
test taken at the PsychoGerries in Bytown less that two weeks ago.
Also, Louise stated that
her preference, and that of Dr Gobessi, of keeping Mum in hospital for a while was countered by
the Civic. Their policy statement insists in dealing with this level of anæmia
in a patient external to the hospital. Costs, don't you know.
To repeat, we don't know why no colonoscopy or other
procedure was made. This statement is apropos of Louise Roy, and everyone else
it seems, not knowing what was actually wrong with mother's insides: what
causing her blood problems.
December 9th: Spoke
with Dr Julian Rambert's wife and receptionist, Sophie (they're Michelle's Aunt
and Uncle, and mine by marriage, for however long that lasts legally if not in
fact). Advised them of Mum's death.
Apart from offering condolences and remarking that Mum looked reasonably well at
the surgery last week, Sophie remarked that people with Mum's hæmoglobin count are
usually not at too great a risk. She has seen many with lower counts who
Dad is not too swift. He
blames himself for not caring for her, but we as witnesses should remember the
events in this chronicle. Dad provided Mum with a
home, food, clothing, holidays and mostly everything she wished for. He drove
her around. He helped her in the past when she preached her Spiritualist Gospel
and he printed her sayings using an old typewriter. And yes, there were a few
bad moments, both Lynn and I know that, but the sum of his caring for her was
totally positive, was it not?
We phoned Vancouver,
because of Mum and Dad's prior paid funeral arrangements, and then went round to
Kelly's Funeral Home, close by on Somerset Street. Nothing other than
cremation, no ceremony, nothing more than us bearing witness.
If procedures follow
their expected course, Margaret Dickins
will be cremated,
and Raymond Ernest and I will witness the event, at 3pm Thursday, December 12th., at
Beechwood Crematorium, Ottawa. Mum will have her ashes distributed in their
garden come the spring.
December 10th: The
funeral parlour people phoned, and have Mum's wedding band. I will pick it up
for Dad. He's gone for a hair cut and then he'll go grocery shopping. When he
did that with Mum, lately all she did was follow him around, rarely asking for
anything or pointing out any of the goods. A good indication, I think, of her status, both
physical and mental. Surely, we can agree that it is better for Mum for this to
Dad and I have had one decent
meal together, and one that was inefficiently cooked! Veggies done, salmon not!
Oh, well, at least we are measuring the spaces, feeling the emptiness, and
wondering how it will develop. Practice will make perfect.
Two days now to the cremation. On a hill in Ottawa.
December 13th: And
it's Friday! Yesterday's cremation went as well as could be expected. The visual
experience was unpleasant. At least for me, although Beechwood itself is a very attractive
place, hilly and well landscaped. Where, in fact, a great many of the good and
famous are buried.
Today, Dad is going down
to his local travel agent to book his six week trip to New Zealand in January.
He is not taking Mum's death very well at all. He has constant feelings of
guilt, and of thinking he has gone off his own head. This situation is
temporary, I hope. The trip to Auckland should give him some peace.
We have had a few calls
from Vancouver, and from DrG of the PsychoGerries. Everyone I have spoken to is
surprised that she died in these circumstances. Dad is against anything being
done to determine the cause of Mum's death, or to take any action against the
Civic. When I have quietened down, I will have to think about that, because she
was my mother, as well as his wife.
2003: April: I phoned Beechwood. They had forgotten to let
us know when the ashes were to be spread in the ground. That had been written on
the contract. They were apologetic. I was disgusted with the error, one that is
totally basic. How not to keep people happy, in a horrid situation.