Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Mom before she was
admitted to UMMC
The call came early on Saturday 20 June, at 7.27am to be precise. "Mom fell and fractured her left leg." Oh no, not again! The last time I received a similar call was in March 2011 when she slipped and fell at home. She broke her hip then, and had major surgery followed by months of rehabilitation. It was a traumatic experience both for her and for me as her primary caregiver. I had prayed that we would never have to go through the painful ordeal again. ("Mom Fell And Broke Her Right Hip")

Alas, with that phone call from my brother, it was deja vu all over again.

I cancelled all my appointments in Singapore for the following week, and took the earliest available flight back to Kuala Lumpur. It was straight from KLIA2 to UMMC (Universiti Malaya Medical Centre) with my luggage and all.

Before surgery - Mom's left leg all wrapped up and weighted down to keep it straight and raised. Even so, she was able to kick away the pillow and roll over on her left side. Surely that must have hurt?

The PFNA Asia (also known as PFNA II)
Mom had been rushed to emergency at UMMC, and subsequently admitted to the orthopedic ward. X-rays showed she had sustained a fracture to the femur near the hip joint. She had fallen from her bed to the floor in the nursing home. Due to her age (mom is 89), that minor fall was enough to cause a fracture. The doctors said she would require surgery, and gave me a number to contact to order (and pay in advance) a device called 'proximal femoral nail antirotation' or PFNA.

Surgery was scheduled for the afternoon of Monday 22 June. Unfortunately, just before she was wheeled into the operating theatre (OT) final tests showed her blood pressure was way too high to risk going ahead with the surgery. The doctors decided to postpone it to the morning of Wednesday 24 June.

During the intervening days, the nurses administered medicine to lower mom's BP to an acceptable level for surgery to proceed on Wednesday. When mom was wheeled out hours later from the OT, her eyes were wide open and she was alert. I noticed she wasn't on a drip. The instant she saw me, she called my name and insisted I accompany her back to the ward.

The surgery was a success. Post-surgery, however, was an entirely different story.

The two incisions where the PFNA device was inserted.

Caring for an elderly with dementia is vastly different from caring for one without. Dementia patients especially those recovering from surgery require supervision 24/7. My mom has dementia and this complicated matters tremendously. Her inability to understand and remember instructions made her most uncooperative to the point of being unintentionally rebellious. She couldn't fathom the need to have tubes, needles and bandages on her body, and was in the habit of removing them repeatedly, much to the frustration of the nurses and doctors. 

She kept demanding help to get up and use the toilet. When reminded that she had diapers on, she insisted she didn't want to soil her pants. This was what upset her most - the loss of dignity and privacy at having to rely on others to change her diapers. She would scream, curse and swear at anyone, including the nurses, who didn't give in to her demands. 

Before surgery (left) and after (right)

She couldn't recall that she had just had lunch or dinner, and demanded to be fed again. It was a challenge watching over her 24/7 to make sure she didn't try and get up, or remove the bandages/plasters/diapers. I had to resort to the services of a private nurse to relieve me on three occasions so I could get some rest. I was also lucky to have my sister-in-law come by on Saturday 27 June, so I could attend a workshop on 'Essentials of Dementia Care' organized by Alzheimer's Disease Foundation Malaysia (ADFM).

On Sunday 28 June at 4pm, Mom was discharged from UMMC. That day was also my birthday. Indeed it was the second time I was spending my birthday in hospital,  Only this time I was not the patient.

Mom with my bro Henry at her new nursing home in PJ

Right now Mom seems to have settled in nicely at this nursing home in Petaling Jaya, one of the very few that accept post-surgery admissions.

This is only the beginning of the road to recovery for Mom. She is one tough cookie. I am sure she will bounce back and be on her feet in no time.

(This post was written to share with family members and also with carers who may be going through a similar experience with their loved ones. More posts to follow...)

1 comment:

Pak Idrus said...

Sorry to hear this Lily. Take care.