Sunday, 17 November 2013

My sister's mother-in-law

had a heart attack some days ago. Yesterday she had a stroke as well. She is now in intensive care at one of the big teaching hospitals.
The news did not surprise me at all because she had, following the heart attack, had an angiogram. In all possibility that caused some of the plaque clogging her arteries to break off and disrupt the flow of blood to her brain.
She is affected down her right side and unable to move that side or speak. Yes, it causes many problems.
And, for her, the problems are even greater. She is in the early stages of Alzheimer's and her overall medical condition is complicated by the fact that English is her second language. Even before the stroke she was reverting rapidly to Cypriot-Greek.
My sister speaks some Greek. It is not good but she can make herself understood at a basic level. I know a few words - enough to be polite.
When my sister phoned yesterday and asked, "Should we be thinking about a communication board for Panyiota?" I could tell her that it was something I was already giving some thought. Whether she will ever be ready or able, or indeed willing, to use such a thing is beside the point at this time. Her family needs it.
What they need most of all is to believe that other people care enough to support them by providing such things.
We know Panyiota is worrying about her husband. His state of health is precarious too, very precarious. He has not taken care of his health. There is not a great deal the medical profession can do for him now. He has been spending most of his time watching television until now. Since his wife went into hospital he has spent a lot of his time just sitting next to her but he cannot get in to see her without help. He loves her and he needs support too.
So, I went over to my sister's place. We found a photograph of Yiannis, a photograph of the children and the grandchildren - the people Panyiota cares about most. We have added a very few pictures of things she may need or need to ask about. We have added words to the pictures in Greek and English.
There is a temptation to add more but I know from experience that, in a setting like this, less can be more. Too much can simply be overwhelming and nothing will get used - and even this might be too much but at least it will say "we care about you".

1 comment:

Judy Edmonds said...

That's a lovely and practical thing to do for her. Maybe if she takes to it with enthusiasm you could do another one with further pictures on it later. Best wishes to your family, this must be hard.