Act F.A.S.T.

My mother eventually settled in a very small cottage in the grounds of a nursing home where she had more people looking after her than ever.  She had wonderful carers, Maybeth hung in there the longest, and she constantly gave everybody grief.   She was irritable and forgetful; perhaps her irritability bounced off her forgetfulness? It should have taken the onus off me, having these wonderful women living in her cottage to literally do everything for her 24/7, to leave me to get on with my own life and my job in Jersey. But it didn’t. Two and a half years of coping with the fallout from my mother’s stroke, I still couldn’t switch off.

It had been a traumatic time for us both and life-changing for my mother. Financially, she was luckier than most but I spent a huge amount of time stressing over the bills as her monthly outgoings once more began to eclipse her income.  She was living off the capital from the sale of her cottage in September 2013, which was never going be sustainable given the amount of care she needed, but she firmly resisted going into the nursing home, even though her mobility was getting worse and the necessity for a ceiling hoist to get her in an out of bed was edging ever closer.

I totally understand how painful it is to give up your last threads of independence.  There is nothing dignified about growing older and having to cope with an illness on top of everything else is the final insult.

Following a series of falls, which my mum was very insistent that I should never find out about, I was eventually told she had been admitted into the nursing home at the beginning of December 2015.  After she was admitted, her general health deteriorated rapidly and she died shortly afterwards.  I am glad to say that I was with her, despite her misguided belief that I had been responsible for getting her admitted into the nursing home and never really forgave me for it.

So my determined and resilient mother survived almost 3 years after her stroke. 3 years of struggling to get her life back to some sort of normality, which she must have realised was never going to happen.  All the things that we do every day and take for granted, she found so difficult to cope with and I still wrestle with feelings of guilt…

  • that I didn’t spend more time with her
  • that I found it impossible to deal with her angry outbursts
  • that I got irritated at the amount of time she took her shuffling from a to b and frustrated because of her struggles getting in an out of the car
  • that, as her daughter, I was totally so badly equipped to provide her with the care that she constantly needed.

Most of all I feel I should have known that she had had a stroke in the first place; even if three GP’s were incapable of doing so.  We should all be vigilant.

A stroke is a silent killer, so please be aware:

FACE – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile or their mouth or eye may have drooped

ARMS – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift one or both arms and keep them there because of arm weakness or numbness

SPEECH – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake

TIME – it is time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms

If you’re having a stroke, it’s critical that you get medical attention right away. Immediate treatment may minimize the long-term effects of a stroke and even prevent death. Thanks to recent medical advances, stroke treatments and survival rates have improved greatly over the last decade.

January 2017

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