IT’S two years since I wrote in TCW about my now 91-year-old aunt and her 2020 hospitalisation after a fall. Not only was she given a DNR, which involved a NHS consultant lying to me and telling me that she had agreed to it, we also found an end-of-life pathway in her list of anticipatory medications, which I shared on TCW here. She was one of only 46 patients ever sent to the 300-bed temporary Dragon’s Heart Hospital in the Principality Stadium, Cardiff.
In June, my aunt was admitted to hospital once more, mainly because she had become far less mobile following another fall and had been bedbound for some weeks. There were problems with her care package and the GP noted that she was slightly ‘chesty’. However, such is her fear of spiders and flies that she allows no windows in her home to be opened. This doesn’t help her chest, needless to say.
I rang the Princess of Wales hospital in Bridgend to find out the visiting arrangements and was advised that my aunt had ‘tested positive’ and that I might like to ‘gown and mask up’ when I arrived. I politely declined and explained that I am exempt from wearing a mask, another saga which I have written about previously.
When I arrived at the hospital, a very young junior doctor accompanied by a locum doctor popped into the cubicle where my aunt was, and we had the ‘DNR chat’. It transpired that the staff were unaware that my aunt already had one in place, which we had tried unsuccessfully to have removed. I explained that we had appealed to the Ombudsman and that we had been told it might be ‘reviewed’ upon future hospital admission, but that essentially it is extremely rare to go from having a DNR in place to not having one. It was an awkward conversation and I was thankful for my aunt’s poor hearing at that point. I did, however, manage to explain to the two doctors that we had found an end-of-life pathway in her previous set of hospital notes. Neither of them said anything but looked decidedly uncomfortable.
In total, five staff members came in and out of the cubicle during that first visit; none wore a mask. My aunt had no ‘symptoms’ so I asked what sort of test they had carried out (it was a PCR) and asked what the turnaround was now for these, since it was only the day after admission. I was told that they now use very rapid PCR tests, so I grabbed my opportunity and began talking about false positive tests being more likely when community prevalence is low. The locum doctor didn’t contradict me, but made a hasty exit at that point.
Two days later, I phoned for an update and during the conversation the nurse practitioner with whom I spoke said, ‘I don’t know if you’re aware – your aunt tested positive for Covid but she has no symptoms so it may be an incidental thing.’ Or maybe a false positive, I thought to myself.
The following day, I visited her in a different ward due to her being ‘Covid positive’. A portly nurse walked me to her cubicle, picking up a box of masks as she did so. I politely declined once again and was told, ‘So long as you are aware of the risks . . .’ I decided to make a joke of it and replied that I had kissed my aunt four days earlier with no serious adverse effects. While I was sitting in the cubicle, barefaced and chatting to my aunt, another staff member appeared at the door and put up some sort of signage on the open door about a ‘respiratory hazard’, as if to labour the point.
Upon my third visit, I found that she’d been moved to yet another ward and was in the ‘Covid section’ with five other patients. I was once again ‘warned’ of the ‘risk’ of going in without a mask. My aunt kept saying that she didn’t know why they were telling her she had Covid ‘when there’s nothing wrong with me’. She complained that they initially would not let her use her electric fan which she had asked me to bring in to hospital, though later they relented. As I left I asked why my aunt was in that particular section and was told that as it was ‘day 11’ she was now ‘Covid resolved’ and there was ‘no risk’.
It was all rather surreal, especially since two years ago the fear of God was being put into everyone and we were being told to isolate after being a close contact, especially if unvaccinated. It seems the Covid theatre is still being acted out to some degree, even though the risk is now known to be minimal to most people.
I have survived the exposure to six ‘Covid-positive patients’ with no ill-effects (having declined any injections). I am pleased to say that my unjabbed aunt is well, having physiotherapy to help her mobility and intends to request her hospital notes once more.
I wonder what we’ll find this time?