Thursday, March 22, 2012

Complications and resolutions (from an email to an old friend)

With editorial interpolations in square brackets for the blog readers, plus initials for names.

We saw Dr K, the geriatriac specialist, yesterday for a check-up. He has referred DH to a nerve specialist, as [after some tests of his own] he thinks the crook legs (sometimes DH can barely walk even with the wheely walker) are due to the peripheral neuropathy and not arthritis. Makes sense — oor chiropractor is doing his best for the arthritis. The specialist also changed the pain medication to something which is both stronger and not confusion-promoting. 

[Some weeks ago when the pain was extreme, we couldn't get to see our regular GP. The one we did see prescribed Tramadol. Our usual guy, when we went back to him, was concerned that this could cause increased mental confusion; but as I noted that it did seem to help with the pain, did not countermand its use. Then a nurse who interviewed us in regard to respite mentioned that Tramadol was inadvisable for the elderly, so I mentioned it to the specialist yesterday. He said it should be used only rarely, for extreme, unusual pain — but DH's pain is chronic. He has also been on Panadol Osteo three times a day, and occasionally Codeine at night if the pain is particularly severe. Dr K said to take him off the Panadol Osteo and Codeine — and certainly Tramadol too, except very rarely — and instead use Panadeine Extra twice or thrice a day. This morning, however, his legs are so sore that I have also applied a capsicum ointment which our regular GP recommended some time ago for pain relief. Later today I'll be using some techniques supplied by a friend who is a cranio-sacral therapist, in which I've been encouraged by chiropractor, GP and now geriatric specialist.]

I have good respite in place now: (a) 'emergency' respite when I have medical appointments that don't require DH's presence (b) a regular package that includes 4 hours of leisure for me on Monday mornings and 2 hours Thursday arvos to go shopping. [An alteration from the original Tuesday mornings.] I am just in my second week of that one. These are both in-home respite: a lovely young man comes and talks to DH, lends him books, and brings DVDs to watch. The package includes one and a half hours of housework (as part of the Monday morning stint) and podiatry appointments six-weekly, which he needs because of his diabetes. This is all free, and I have been able to dispense with the Home Care domestic help, which, though indeed helpful for that time, was fortnightly and low cost rather than no cost.

At first I didn't quite know what to do with my unaccustomed leisure! The local Art Galleries are not open at that time, and the local morning movies finish too late.  :(   But I have put the word out to friends that that's when we can meet for coffee, and have done so with one already. Other ideas include meditating in park, writing letters to neglected friends not on email, reading, reading, reading. Also could get up to Tweed if necessary for items I can't find in local shops such as new shoes I need. So far I resist taking laptop out with me! But I do take the Kobo reader, you bet.

And from now on will be able to take my new smart phone! Telstra is still the only one that gives us adequate internet coverage — because they have a wireless modem to which I can attach signal booster (unlike Optus, which I tried very briefly and cancelled quick within the cooling-off period). But anyway, Southern Phone have been offering great deals for rural dwellers, so they now have our landline — rent free and cheap calls — plus gave me a free LG phone with $200 of free calls. I think I've about got the hang of it now, after a few days of playing with it.  I have loved our little Samsung phones and the v cheap deal with Dodo, however they dont get coverage where we live. DH will keep his (can't hardly operate computer now, let alone the LG phone!) so if he ever goes to hospital again, there is something on which a nurse could get him my number. It only costs $9.90 a month. But it's cheaper for me at this point to cancel the contract on mine. The new LG does have coverage here. I made them promise it would before I signed up, and they were not lying. Handy when our landline stopped working temporarily the other day, to have another usable phone in the house.

We now need extra respite, as it has become very clear DH can no longer cope with WordsFlow writers' group. He just gets too tired, going to chiropractor first and then the group — and afternoons (group time) are his low point anyway. So I have switched the chiropractor to another day, and now I am hunting for extra respite for my Friday afternoons. There are some possibilities.

Luckily I am pretty well myself, and the free Monday mornings do a lot to help my stress levels! We also attend a monthly social group for coffee and chat, arranged by the Community Nurse, for carers and carees. Research shows that the best thing to keep dementia at bay is not crosswords and such (though they help) but social interaction in groups. Also it is very good for the carers to meet with others who know just what it's like. We meet at a café overlooking the river, and we enjoy it very much. It's also an opportunity to learn the latest on dementia, as the CN is currently doing a Masters in the subject.

Post Script

Just got a call. The same mob that organised the Monday and Thursday respite has just found me the 5 hours I need on a Friday! This should allow me to squeeze in a chat to my lovely psych lady as well.

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