Sunday, March 29, 2015

A funeral trip to Melbourne

We were saddened to learn that Pam's mother had passed away on 16th March and naturally, Pam needed to attend the forthcoming funeral upon hearing the news.  Her mother, Mary Austin, was 91 years of age and had reached a stage where her poor body was shutting down and had indeed stopped.  When we heard of her death, we began organising for the trip to Melbourne.

We found that Benlynne Park Nursing Home in West Sunshine could put Pam up, provided that we would spend at least one week there - so we agreed to go down on Friday the 20th and return on Friday 27th (my 66th birthday).

Our case manager, Peta Webber got us to see our GP, Dr Bob Meyer to arrange for air ambulance transfer.  I arranged with my daughter Jeni to stay with her and her family at Taylors Lakes, on the outskirts of Melbourne, not far from the Calder Park race track.

On the morning of the 20th, I left at 7am with all of Pam's (and my) stuff - her electric wheelchair, her feed pump and stand, food case, widget bags, clothes case...  a list that ran to two pages of "Outs & Ins" (a tick in a box to indicate it was being taken 'Out' and a blank 'In' box for when I returned).  Pam was picked up by ambulance and taken to the airport for the air-ambulance at 8:30am, but it wasn't a problem if I arrived after Pam did because Benlynne Park staff would care for her until I arrived.  As it turned out, there was another patient with Pam who needed to be dropped off at Birchip and so it wasn't until noon that she eventually arrived.  I arrived at 12:30pm, just 5½ hours since I left – and I DIDN’T speed (I just didn’t stop).

Benlynne Park staff made some errors in looking after Pam’s needs, but I’ve got to hand it to them, they never repeated any of them.  They were wonderful!  I travelled from Jeni’s to Benlynne Park several times per day on most days and Pam had may visitors (seeing we were there for a funeral on Wednesday).

Here's a picture of Pam at Benlynne Park with our Grand-Daughter Ellie Shinas...

The Wednesday funeral was at Highton, Geelong at Tucker’s relatively new funeral parlour – a place with among the best views imaginable.  Pam’s sister Val gave one of the best eulogies I could imagine – and, all in all, it was a real good send-off for my mother-in-law, who had, only days earlier, had rejoiced in hearing the beautiful music that the morphine had provided.

On return from the funeral, we followed my sister-in-law Dorothy to see her new house in Lara and then drove to Val and Tony's house in East Keilor.  It was lovely to see all the people, many of whom we hadn't seen for decades.

At 4:15am on Friday 27th, I left Jeni & George's place and headed to Benlynne Park for the last time (for this trip, at least).  It only took 15 minutes to get there at that time, compared to 50 minutes or so during peak hour.  It took me an hour to load Pam's gear and I was on the road at 5:30am.  The traffic was minimal.

I got home at 11:45am, but Pam didn't arrive till 4:30pm - at least she didn't get there before me, which would've indeed been a no-no.

So that was last Friday and here it is Sunday 30th - I hope you enjoyed the read...

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Mathematics of Pam-Care

It's been quite a while since my previous post (and Pam's pressure-sores are still being treated BTW) and now it apparently is time for a newer design PEG-feed pump to be used.

The Dietician wanted Pam to have 700ml for PEG food per day, but it was found that, according to the Compat-pump, it reckoned there was only 650ml in the bag (which was loaded with 3 x 237ml boxes of 'Resource 2.0' food) and time proved that even 625ml in an overnight PEG-feed - at 54ml/hr would regularly cause Pam to become nauseous as the feed was completing.  The nausea is extremely dangerous for Pam, because regurgitation leads to lung aspiration and subsequent aspiration-pneumonia.  So I decided to reduce the feed to just 600ml at a rate of 52ml/hr and, since then, nausea has not been an issue.  I did this without advising the dietician and have worried about that detail ever since - but it's turned out to be not as significant as it appears...

The new pump is a Kangaroo-Joey Pump - and it reckons there are 711mls in the 3-box bag (which is indeed the case).  So I figure that to get the same volume into Pam as she is used to, with this new pump, the 600ml becomes 650ml and the 52ml/hr becomes somewhere between 56 and 57ml/hr for the SAME delivery amount and feed rate as for the Compat Pump consequenting in a similar feeding duration - I'll leave it to other mathematicians to argue here.  This regime goes into effect tomorrow night.  If all goes well, Pam still won't be nauseous and the Dietician won't be as dismayed as she might have been when she eventually learns of this new feeding regime.

The retiring Compat Pump (A lovely pump that tells ultra-fibs)

The Kangaroo-Joey Pump (much smaller than the Compat) - an almost truthful pump
A happy Pammy - who is blissfully unaware of the weird mathematics involved.