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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Knowing where you are

My mother has had problems with bruising in the absence of any physical impact and the GP took her off the blood thinners she was taking and also referred her to a haematologist - a blood specialist - in order to find out why mum's platelet count is so low. A low platelet count means the blood is liable not to clot, which is why the bruises were appearing with such frequency on her arms. The haematologist then ordered a biopsy to take a sample of bone marrow - the place where blood is manufactured in the body - and we had to drive to the surgery 40km north of where we live. It is a fairly arduous drive in an area that is difficult to navigate and that has a lot of roundabouts. In the past, mum has developed motion sickness in the car because of these road fixtures, but yesterday we were lucky and we arrived without having to stop.

After having a few blood samples taken - these had been ordered in addition to the bone marrow sample - they took mum away to do the main procedure and I went outside and found a bakery where I bought some food and a cup of white coffee. Mum was gone for a couple of hours; to do the procedure an anaesthetist administers a general anaesthetic, so most of the time she was away from the waiting room - where I sat chatting with people about the sudden rainshower, and watching a bad American drama on the TV - she was in fact just sleeping off the anaesthetic. Eventually the nurse brought her into the waiting room and found her a seat.

I sat next to her after a while and asked her how she felt. She found it difficult to answer the question, and replied by asking me one: "What am I doing here?" To answer my mother I explained about the low platelet count in her blood, the haematologist's order for a biopsy, and our trip north to the small regional centre where the surgery where we were sitting was located. She said nothing, but a few moments later she asked me: "Can you tell me what I am doing here?" I went through the reasons for our presence in the surgery again, explaining about the low platelet count, the haematologist's order for a biopsy, and the trip north.

Soon, the nurse came out to the waiting area and brought mum a cup of tea with three biscuits, which she happily consumed. Not long after she finished the tea she went to the toilet and then a nurse took her aside to run tests to establish whether she was fit to be discharged. Soon after, we were back in the car running through the roundabouts on the way back down south, with the heavy rain pattering against the windscreen and the wipers operating at normal speed to clear it.

When we got home it was still raining heavily. I took mum out of the car and we shared an umbrella as we negotiated our way back to her apartment, where she has no trouble remembering where she is.

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