Friday, September 17, 2010

Losing Weight

Mentioned briefly toward the bottom of the first post (below), Pam's loss of wieght is further detailed here.

Because of the effects of the stroke, Pam had subsequent difficulty in chewing and swallowing. As a consequence her foods were liquefied and supplemented with Sustagen made into a milkshake with Bulla icecream and ‘enriched’ milk (milk with added dissolved powdered milk) and was drank from her “Sippy-cup”. I’m being perhaps too brief here – the enriched milk was an evolution adapted because of Pam’s apparent frailty, she was getting very skinny.

Notwithstanding the enriched milk, Pam appeared to be continually losing weight and when I finally had her weighed (weighing Pam is not easy) she was just 37kg. I panicked and quickly set about arranging for Pam to be fitted with a stomach PEG (Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy). Pam had resisted this idea for many months, if not years, as she regarded the procedure as being one step closer to death. I would counter by pointing out that every new day falls into this category and does so for everyone – it’s no big deal. Anyway, Pam was as alarmed as I, about her apparent malnutrition and she at least agreed to “think about it”.

Youngest daughter Jeni was very much in defence of Pam’s right to accept or deny the procedure and so I took her along with me to hear what our GP, Dr Robert Meyer would say about it. He didn’t mince his words; he pointed out to both of us that the PEG would quickly bring about weight-recovery, would enhance Pam’s quality of life – through, if nothing else, not having to be continually battling to take food orally, and would very likely extend her lifetime to boot. Jeni soaked this up like a sponge and was suddenly as keen as I to have it happen.

Upon our return home, Pam was somewhat overwhelmed by Jeni’s and my enthusiasm – and the good Doctor as well, evidently. (In case you’re wondering why Pam didn’t come to the doctor’s with Jeni and I, it’s simply because of her reluctance get into the car unless she really has to. These days she can no longer roll over in bed and so is either always on her back whilst in bed in bed, or on her backside in her lounge chair and as a result, she has a pressure sensitivity at the base of her spine and it hurts to sit in her wheelchair in the car.) And so it was, that Pam agreed to have the PEG and before she knew what was happening, she was in our Surgeon, Mr Kevin Chambers' rooms booking in the procedure for 16/06/2010

Pictured is Jeni beside a recovering Pammy, her having just been PEGged.

Naturally, Pam's weight was suddenly of particular interest to me, but up until that point weighing her required something that could weigh her sitting in her electric wheelchair and that was a hospital device. I put on my thinking cap and remembered what we used to weigh stuff in secondary school: Spring balances. The ones I recalled were relatively tiny, but if I could get a pair of 50kg ones, my problem would be solved. I would simply hang these off the two lifting hooks of Pam's lifting machine and attach the sling with Pam already therein. I figured 50kg ones would be ideal given that hopefully, Pam would soon be up to 50kg in weight and spring balances are alleged to be more accurate in mid-scale deflection.

And so it was done - from "Got One" fishing supplies, I purchased two 50kg (full scale deflection) spring balances for just $15 the pair...

Each Saturday morning when I use the lifting frame to lower Pam into her shower-chair for her weekly hair wash and shower, I simply attach the balances and raise her once more (there being just enough lift height available, allowing for the length of the balances and spring extension). bounce her a couple of times to settle the springs, and then take and add the readings. On Saturday 18th September 2010, Pam weighed 48kg - somewhat better than prior to the stomach PEG, don't you think?

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