Dulcie Hartley

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On 1st April blood tests showed a Staph. A blood infection and l was immediately transferred to John Hunter Hospital Immunology Ward for treatment. Source of the infection was suspected to be from a Canula. A course of IV Antibiotics followed and removal of the urinary catheter. Soon a P.I.C. line was inserted for antibiotic treatment. I was now in a four bed ward with three other ladies, even though we were paying as private patients. While in this hospital I was most despondent and in great pain, especially during the nights. My daughter was aware of my condition and visited before work and after work and I more than welcomed these visits. I was given morphine based pain relief medication which reduce pain very much, but produced hallucinatory dreams, many particularly troubling. With the pain and these dreams I must have given the other patients a bad time.

I had been in John Hunter Hospital seven days without a shower, or being out of bed. My daughter complained on several occasions and I was finally given a shower, but was informed by staff that I could only be showered every second day as there were not enough showers for the ward. A suitable chair was also provided for me.

Tests were ordered, with a bone scan showing no abnormality, and other tests including Trans Oesophageal Echo proved all right. These tests were necessary so I could return to Toronto Private Hospital free of infection. I still required feeding and help with all basic care inclusive of denture cleaning.

After 18 days in John Hunter I returned to Toronto Private Hospital Medical Ward and by this time had made some progress with feeding myself with a spoon. I was soon transferred to ReHab Ward and had a few leg exercises in bed and some exercises in the gymnasium. I still required a little help with my meals and, although I tried to feed myself, continued to experience the utmost difficulty in handling the cutlery. I was as messy as an 18 month old toddler and was pleased to accept the large protective feeding bib from the staff.

Physically my strength had left me, and my leg muscles had atrophied, as had also happened to my arm muscles. I had also lost a great deal of weight. Around this time my hair stopped growing, as did my finger and toe nails. A result of the pain killers was constipation which was to plague me for some time.

During these months of lying on my back movement gradually returned. This was known as the Reversal, and over several months feeling eventually returned from my waist downwards, the feet being the last to recover. On one occasion I found I could move my knees and demonstrated to my daughter. A couple of days later a nurse came into my room and saw me moving my knees. She was so excited that she ran into the hall and called everyone into my room so I could demonstrate. Staff and visitors would praise my progress, reminding me of what I had been like in earlier days. The pain and bad nights continued, as did the bladder condition. My doctor implemented pain relief schemes and was particularly supportive and I was sorry to see her leave for America. She had faith in me and felt sure I would be walking out of Toronto Private Hospital within four weeks.