First of all, I am the first to admit to serious bouts of stupidity, things like opening a door, turning away for a second then turning back only to painfully headbutt the door after forgetting I opened it in the first place. I also opened the fridge once, turned to put a dish in the sink then turned and walked into that door too, (although the rubber seal thingy spared me the searing pain the sitting room door dealt out.)
Other things, I once phoned Telewest to complain about my TV box not working when all I'd done was fail to turn it on. I used to work in an amusement arcade, the number of electric shocks I gave myself was a subject of mirth among those who worked for me, I got a proper belt of the top of an old CRT (that's an old fashioned telly to you youngsters) that lifted me off my feet. It was a static shock, not the pleasant tingling of an AC shock, a proper bolt up the arm and out the top of the head; it really rattled my teeth.
All in all, those mistakes didn't harm any one (except perhaps myself.) When you ramp that up to levels where lives are involved, actual living people with families, banging your head or stubbing your toe is nothing. Tony Blair went to war on flawed information, no one can say with a straight face, only with hindsight can you see it as a mistake, people at the time were saying it was a bad thing to do. America voted George Bush into office, a man who was demonstrably a bit of a moron. We have a Cardinal in Scotland who believes homosexuals can be cured and who shouldn't be able to declare their love for each other and call it marriage because they can't procreate. Lots of people making lots of mistakes, except these people are listened to and don't listen to any ideas contrary to their own.
Having as I do ageing parents with a panoply of medical complaints ranging from Parkinson's to Dementia and on to liver failure (not all in the same parent right enough.) We have a doctor telling us my Mum can no longer make decisions about her own welfare, this means I can't now apply for Power of Attorney (which means I could look after her affairs and make decisions about care provision etc.) It means I have to spend thousands of pounds on something called a Guardianship.
The thing is though... My Mum has early onset Dementia, she comes and goes, some days she's really fine some days not so much so but here is the rub. Her doctor is saying she can't decide for herself, she's too confused. There is a background level of confusion, slight forgetfulness and hallucinations but get this, my Mum takes a hellish reaction to strong medication, she hallucinates and becomes forgetful and unresponsive, I've seen this in the past several times, the doctor hasn't because well, he's only known her for two months and only then from what he observes in a 5 minute weekly window and what nursing staff have written down.
He has prescribed a tricyclic anti-depressant called Trazadone and something called Mirtazapine (a tetracyclic anti-depressant apparently, it cheers you up in four ways instead of three.) You've probably guessed I'm no doctor but I know if you feed my mother that cocktail of chemicals, she's off to the moon for the foreseeable future. I've told the staff this, her GP knows about this, every body knows about this, even you know now. This Consultant has basically turned around smacked his head on a door he's just been told is open.
Why has she been given these pills? Because being hospital is an alien environment and she was having trouble sleeping, for your information, if you have an older relative in hospital who is having trouble [insert random verb here] he or she will be given Trazadone. My mum developed a cold, her ability to sleep was further impaired because of a heavily blocked nose, you know how that can be? The medical staff's answer was, wait for it, more antidepressants, not nightnurse or some Vics Vaporub but more Trazadone and Mirtazapine. Why not just get a mallet and knock her out? The effect would be the same.
Its one of those times when you've made certain assumptions, the guy is a consultant, he must be moderately intelligent, how can he not make the connection, I mean, of course she's going to be confused and it'll only get worse but if you have been told in the clearest terms a patient will react badly to medication, if the medication is then prescribed and the bad reaction observed, going on to say that patient can no longer look after their own interests; does this not sound wrong? It makes it seem as if its a case of; 'if you have to explain, they'll never understand'.
Making mistakes is one thing but this is about confidence and trust. No bugger gives a toss if I drink to much boxed wine and bash my coupon on the fridge door, but if you have a vulnerable relative in hospital, how do you know they're getting the proper care? I see OAP's in the ward with my Mum with no one to stick up for them, their visitors stand meekly by as they are brow beaten with educated guesswork masquerading as medical certainty informed by years of experience, even although when they get it wrong they're quick to say 'no two patients are the same'. I would urge you, if you ever find yourself being told that by a medical professional, immediately point out that if no two patients are the same, how they hell can they claim superior knowledge on your vulnerable relative? They have forty or fifty patients who are all unique, you only have the one.
As ever, I bump my gums about this but its not straightforward. My Mum can't walk, she needs 24hr care at the moment so the hospital was the best place. Now though, since being there is having no net benefit, my Mum has complained of suffering from what we can only call performance anxiety, we all think she'd be better off at home where she can do the physiotherapy without being pressured (a lot of which she puts on herself because she's a bit Victorian in some regards.)
I have a meeting with the doctor tomorrow, the questions I have are pointed, they also come on the back of an official complaint. I just can't see how you can justify throwing a vulnerable person to the dogs of social work because you've medicated them to within an inch of their own sanity, it just seems daft.
If you've got this far you'll notice this isn't my usual nonsense fayre, I shall endeavour to provide something suitably pithy and irreverent just soon as something pithy and irreverent happens.