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What next?

So I finally asked the doctor what it would take for us to get out of the hospital.

Only today did I feel we were close enough to the end to ask what hurdles remained. In general, medical staff – the doctors, nurses, specialists – talk about the immediate, which test needs to be done next, who will come in to do assessments today. Their future tense rarely extends beyond the next day.

I understand that patients and their families can get overwhelmed with too much information coming at them in words that they do not understand. Providing information on a need to know basis is probably the best approach.

But I now needed to know when we might be moving to the next phase. Since we went to the hospital, Deane has been asking to go home. We need to prepared him carefully and gently for the fact that when the hospital discharges him, he is not going home. He is going by ambulance to another hospital. On his Monopoly board, he does not get to pass Go.

The answer to my question was that there are two issues. First, Deane needs to show that he can eat and drink safely without anything ending up in his lungs. We tried that today but Deane was not interested in drinking while an occupational therapist had a stethoscope to his throat. Maybe it was because he has been on continuous feeds through the tube in his nose for five days or because his nurse had done such a good job cleaning out his mouth that he wasn’t thirsty or because he’s still too tired to hold his cup properly. Whatever the reason, we are no closer to the answer than we were this morning.

The other hurdle is that they have to make sure Deane does not have C. difficile or  something similar. Deane has been – how shall I put this delicately? – keeping the nurses busy with bedding changes. So the hospital needs to make sure the cause is not a highly contagious bacteria that they could be spreading to another hospital.

Cultures were taken. They could take 72 hours to develop.

So tomorrow, we can make some adjustments to see if we can get Deane to eat or drink. But, as far as the second hurdles goes, our future rests in a petri dish.

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