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The news about Rae!

30th December 1920 - 25th February 2014

The date for the funeral is the 14th March, at 2pm in St Botolph's church in Stow Longa.
You can begin at either the church or the house at the other end of the village. Flowers are welcome.
Please send them to the funeral director: T.L. Cobbold 11&13 New St. St. Neots, PE19 1AE by 11:30 on the 14th
If you need to stay over, please let us know, we have plenty of bedrooms. Email us on

Born on 30th of December 1920 in Storrs, Carbon County, Utah, near Salt Lake City in America, her Mother a house wife and her Father a miner, Rachel spent the first two and a half years of her life growing up in a Mormon community.

Helen Jones - Rachel's Mother Her Mother was pregnant with her Brother when her parents broke up and her Mother took the brave decision to return to South Wales where she was accepted back into the family that she had left to follow her man to live in a new world. It must have been a difficult time for her, but she found her feet among the large number of aunts, uncles, siblings, nieces and nephews that lived within the mining community in the Valleys.
In time, her Mother met a new fella and life remained relatively normal as Rachel went through her school years. She had a talent for art and enjoyed performing. At sixteen she left home to join the Welsh National Theatre and toured with them until the outbreak of the Second World War. Training as a radio operator, she was deployed in airfields around the south of England in both Fighter and Bomber Command. She met and fell for a Major and they were married.

Rachel, 21 years old After the war, Rachel had a daughter, Marilyn, and Rachel and her husband settled close to his family, building a house in Sanderstead in south London. After some time, as work dictated, they moved to Penarth in South Wales where they built another house, one of which Rachel was very proud. Rachel was active on the stage, participating in the local amateur dramatics societies. When Marilyn was just twelve years old, the marriage failed and Rachel and Marilyn found themselves alone and having to move out of the house Rachel was so proud of.
Rebuilding her life as a single parent, Rachel met a new fella when she played leading lady to his leading man for a show. They were married and had a son, Jonathan. Her new husband, Dennis, took a teaching position in Dorset where they bought a home and settled down.

Marilyn completed her school days at Parkstone Girls Grammar School and left home to train as a journalist at a college in London. Jonathan grew up, attending Poole Boys Grammar school before moving on to start work in London. Rachel had taken a few jobs during this period and each time they were very different and each time she threw herself into the roles, performing them to the best of her ability, proud of the effort she put in and the results she achieved. She remained busy with the stage, producing and performing in light opera and plays and even founded a pantomime society. She painted with oils, presenting a small exhibition of her work with a friend. She became a dab hand at home brew wine making and she and her Mother spent time together knitting and crocheting until her Mum passed away at the grand age of 94.

Rachel's apartment in Spain In the heart of the family On a holiday trip to Spain, the family had visited Rachel's ex-sister-in-law. She may have had a broken relationship with her ex-husband, but she was still friends with his sister and so when, some time later, the property next door came up for sale, she and Dennis snapped it up. Dennis took early retirement, they sold their home in the UK and moved to Spain.

After nearly 14 years of happy retirement, they came back for their Ruby wedding and Dennis was diagnosed with cancer, he died in 2003. Rachel spent some time back in Spain trying to get used to it without Dennis, but it was felt that the best thing was to move into a property near her son Jonathan. Rachel spent the next ten years living independently, under his watchful eye.

She felt the loss of her brother very keenly and after a lifetime never admitting to more than 37 years of age, the last year of Rachel's life began to feel as though she was getting older and she found things more difficult. She accepted Jonathan's invitation to move into his house where he could pay her even closer attention. A chest infection finally forced her into hospital where the eternally young spirit, with steely determination, died in the morning of 25th February 2014 'before she got old'.

25th February 2014

Rae passed away at 6am this morning.

24th February 2014

Rae is deteriorating too fast for her to make the move to Ford House. She will be moved away from the hustle and bustle of the open ward into a side room and the family will be with her.
After Rae showed some improvement during the day, it is hoped that it will be possible to move her tomorrow.
She is still refusing all attemptes to get her to drink even the smallest sip of water or any food of any kind, so it is hard to see how she will be better placed tomorrow to make the move.

22nd February 2014

Rae was quite tired when Jacqui and Jonathan saw her today. The manageress of a care home had been to see her to assess her for admission to Ford House for palliative care.
She will go there on Monday 24th.
Ford House
Ford House - looks nice.

20th February 2014

Marilyn went home this morning. It was just Jonathan going to see Rae today.
She is just skin and bones. Too weak to sit up in bed. Still refusing food and water. It is not clear how long Rae will live now. She is very close to the end.

19th February 2014

Rachel was adamant that she would not have any food. Jonathan normally has glasses to read and for the computer and they are normally on top of his head, when bent over to give Rae a hug, he took them off before they fell off, Rachel picked them up and decided to wear both pairs along with her own. Jonathan captured it on video.
She has developed a cough, but isn't strong enough to shift the phlegm and bearly speaks at all now.

18th February 2014

It has been pretty clear for a while now, that Rae is not eating from choice. Every meal time she is offered food and someone sits with her to try to make sure that she has any help she needs. She always refuses. In her defence, is it after all, hospital food, not very inspiring, in fact it would not be unfair to call it 'horrible'. The high calorie supplements are not very nice either.
Jonathan has been trying to persuade Rae that she should stop starving herself. She is now very, very underweight and weak.
Regrettably, it is common to find that people in Rae's situation and of her advanced years lose all interest in continuing to live. All we can do is talk to her and suggest that there really is something to live for in the hope that she will eat again. Jonathan and Marilyn have had a glimmer of hope as Rae has taken the odd mouthful, but things look bleak.

15th 16th February 2014

No real change and nothing different to report. Rae is slowly getting weaker. The emotional toll on everyone remains heavy. Rae has been fit enough to leave hospital for the last couple of weeks, but her refusal to eat and drink is preventing the hospital from planning her discharge. Jacqui and Jonathan visited her on Sunday, Marilyn decided not to.

14th February 2014

Happy Valentines!
Rae was pretty much the same as she was yesterday.
The SALT specialist Jonathan asked her to be referred to, came and reassessed her this afternoon. She can swallow, but has to think about it and doesn't always decide to do it.
She was refusing everything, but could not explain why. Everything she did say was understandable speech, but she was not lucid enough for it to make sense. After an early afternoon visit, Jonathan went to meet Rae's Granddaughter Rebecca at the airport and brought her to see her Grandma. Rae was pleased to see her and managed a few minutes of coherent lucid speech. Rebecca and Jonathan tried to get Rae to eat some yoghurt but were unsuccessful, she just spat it out into her hand and wiped it under the bed before they could get a tissue to her. She does this sort of thing a lot and doesn't seem to understand that people are trying to get her to use a tissue or napkin. It is behaviour that falls into the same category as the toilet and is fairly typical for dementia patients.

13th February 2014

Rae's dementia is 100 per cent today. She is refusing food and water again. Jonathan has asked for her to be referred back to the speech and language therapist(SALT) who will reassess her ability to swallow. In the meantime, Marilyn took a pot of custard, one of Rae's old favourites, and one of her Actimel drinking yoghurts in for her, but she refused to try either of them. She was sitting up in the chair next to her bed today. When she found she had some saliva in her mouth, rather then swallow it, she put her head into the open end of her pillow case next to her and spat it out onto the pillow.
Although Rae was speaking today, she was not making any sense at all and it was impossible to understand anything from what she said.

12th February 2014

The cannula had become dislodged and her arm had started to bruise, so it had been removed. Her sodium levels had returned to normal and so had her potassium, so the drip was discontinued.
She is eating very tiny amounts. It seems to be a huge effort to swallow and Rae is reluctant to try. The nurses are very patient and with both time and compassion, they are getting a few mouthfuls of food into her. She is not drinking enough again. If her ability to swallow does not improve, she will need a feeding tube.
It seems most likely that her reluctance to eat is just miscommunication. If she could do it easily, she would not be reluctant, but she is finding it very difficult to do. Instead of saying that she can't swallow, she is simply saying she does not want any food. Over time, she has lost her appetite in the same way that anorexics do. She is fed up with being told that she has to eat when she does not feel hungry and so has arrived at this situation.
The family have asked the question whether her loss of swallow could be related to the stroke, she does not seem to have suffered any other loss of motor function. One thing is sure, her loss of motivation from the stroke has expressed it self most noticeably in eating and incontenance. She no longer feels the need to do anything about either. Her presentation is complicated and the nurses and doctors are struggling to know exactly how to improve her situation. The consultant has been on holiday for the last fornight and will be back on Monday. In the mean time his stand in has been considering options, but there do not appear to be any easy answers to get her eating and mobile again.

11th February 2014

Rae had pulled out the cannula providing her intravenous drip. She had been refusing to allow the nurses to fit another one and refusing to eat or drink.
When Jonathan and Marilyn arrived, they were able to persuade her to allow the nurse to fit the new cannula and reattach the drip. It had already made a huge difference, Rae was far more aware, far more vocal and was showing a flicker of her old feisty self.

10th February 2014

Marilyn arrived at Jonathans and they both went to see Rae. She was much the same as the day before. Very thin. They had had to put her on an intravenous fluids drip because she was drinking so little that she has become dehydrated. The loss of fluids in her system may go some way to explain why she was so sluggish, tired, confused and lethargic. The drip will help to replace electrolytes as her sodium was too high and potassium levels too low. She seems to have lost the connection during ingestion between bite and swallow. She can take a mouthful of food or drink but will then keep it in her mouth until she needs to spit it out later. She can sometimes be persuaded to swallow, but doesn't seem to do it naturally all of the time.
Her reluctance to eat and drink is slowly damaging her health and she is too weak to walk now.

Weekend 8th 9th February 2014

Rae was very confused. Jacqui and Jonathan visited her and tried to help her fill in the menu choices for the next day and, after a struggle, got there in the end. Jonathan had taken Rae some chocolates yesterday and also some of the small cakes that Rae used to enjoy. Unfortunately, she had not eaten any of them. She was playing with them and opened all the packets, broke all the cakes up as if she was going to eat them, then put them back in the box and threw the chocolates into her mug of tea. Jonathan and Jacqui cleaned up, moved her pens to a safe distance and left feeling disappointed with Rae's progress.

7th February 2014

Rae is more confused again today. Jonathan took her dentures in for her. At first she didn't know what they were, but then, after talking about her daughter Marilyn for a bit, she seemed more alert and noticed the dentures, recognised them and put them in. She has lost a lot of weight, so they were very loose and she sounded quite strange when she spoke, but she was quite obviously happy to have them. They represent another familiar thing from home to help her get ready for discharge.
She doesn't always remember doing it, but she is walking up and down the ward, saying hello to everyone with the physiotherapists who are working with her to try to improve her mobility. They believe there is room within her potential to improve yet.
She is not drinking enough and is often refusing to eat, although can usually be persuaded to try something with ice cream and chocolates.
Not much happens over the weekend in hospitals, so we will have to wait until next week for any more news.

6th February 2014

Rae is more confused today. There was a lot of activity with one of the patients being discharged and her bed cleared and another one having a couple of visitors. Rae was a bit overwhelmed by all of it and could not answer questions such as 'what did you have for lunch?'.

5th February 2014

The neuro occupational therapy team brought Rae back to Stow Longa for an assessment in her home. She was quite excited yesterday when Jonathan told her about the visit and was happy to arrive at the house.
Unfortunately, Rae could not manage the stairs. She is very frail now and very slight, she has lost a lot of weight. She lacks the strength to stand up out of a chair. She needs the help of two people to walk. She did try using a walking frame on her own, but it was beyond her.
She will not be able to return to the apartment, but it might be possible to set up a couple of the downstairs rooms for her use. The play room is bright and airy, large enough and has the shower room as an en-suite facility. The study next door could also be turned over to accommodate a care worker.
The final assessment of whether this option or a care home would be best for her is the responsibility of the hospital's discharge planning team. The doctors on the ward have completed her course of antibiotics and consider her to be medically fit for discharge. Her case will now pass on with reports from the stroke nurse, ward doctors and neuro occupational therapy team and will be considered in the light of her finances to decide where she will go.
She remains profoundly affected by the stroke, she remains partially incontinent and is now prone to spitting things out into her bare hand where once she would have used a tissue. This deterioration in her cognitive ability is a problem, it means she could not use a stair lift or make herself a cup of coffee.
Rae had chosen a book to read at the weekend, but it is clear now, that she cannot focus for long enough to be able to read it. She is struggling to communicate as the words simply do not come as she trys to turn her thoughts into speech.

30th January 2014

Rae has moved again. This time within the ward, she is out of her private room with TV and into one of the bays with no TV and four other beds with old ladies in them. They are all listing slightly to one side or the other, calling out for relatives that are not there, asking for bed pans and groaning loudly. Rae has lots to watch now. She is enjoying wondering what they are all up to.
Rae has had enough of the hospital food and is starting to rebel! She doesn't want any more scrambled eggs for breakfast. She doesn't want any more yogurt. She doesn't want the same lunch and the same dinner as yesterday again today! todays video
She has been trying out some of the puzzles in her puzzle book, but her pen, that Jacqui put a label on with her name, disappeared yesterday and the replacement disappeared today. She was provided with another. Her hearing aid batteries had gone astray in the move as well, it turned out that one of the nurses had noticed them on the floor by Rae's old bed, but had not picked them up. Jonathan retrieved them and got her hearing aids going again. She is quite bored, so Jonathan is going to take some books in for her to try tomorrow.

27th January 2014

Rae is a bit better today. Feeling well enough to be up and about and dressed. She had another Xray today to try to determine if she needs to have the fluid removed from her chest.
She is working with the physio and is eating and drinking more normally.

26th January 2014

Rae was much the same yesterday and is much the same again today. She is having trouble maintaining focus, finding the right words and thinking of what she wants to say. She has been unable to look at any of her puzzle books. She can feed herself and can understand what is said to her 98% of the time so that she can cooperate with most things that the staff need to do to or with her.
You could say she is making progress, but the improvements of the first couple of days have slowed and any progress she is making from now on is very slow indeed.
She is not complaining of any of the medical issues that brought her to the hospital in the first place.

24th January 2014

There's not much to report today. Rae is very much the same as yesterday. She is making sense, most of the time. She is fed up with being in hospital, but is expected to be there for at least another month.
Treatment would have been possible ... if they had noticed it actually happen, then there would have been time to perform the CT scan to locate it and organise a move to take her to one of the county hospitals to get treatment that would have thinned her blood to dissolve the clot within the four hour window of opportunity within which it would have been effective. It appears to have happened overnight, probably while she was asleep, so there wasn't really any chance to spot it. There is also a risk that that treatment could have caused a bleed instead and that would have taken longer for symptoms to appear and caused as much of a problem. She is taking aspirin and receiving injections into her tummy to reduce the risk of another stroke. She is not toilet trained at the moment. She is getting some exercise with the help of the staff on the ward who are taking her for a short walk to get her mobilised, just a few meters for now.
If a bed becomes available in one of the bays, she can move to be with other people and not be so alone as she is in her private room. She is no longer nil by mouth, so she is getting some solid food and is soon to be restarted on her medication again. Her antibiotics are being administered intravenously through her drip in the meantime.

23rd January 2014

First the bad news: Rae has had a stroke. The CT head scan finally happened this morning and showed that she has had a recent CVA. Forward of both the motor function and speech centres of the left hemisphere, the affects were more extensive at first although she did not seem to have any asymmetry, weakness or palsy, this does explain the sudden change observed from Sunday to Monday. Centred more towards the frontal lobe it is expected that she may suffer some changes to personality and motivation, so she may be perfectly happy to get out of bed in the morning, but won't think to do so for herself until asked.
Now the good news: As the brain is recovering, Rae is regaining the power of speech. The affects are expected to be quite subtle, so Rae should return to normal mobility and should regain her concentration. The improvements are plain to see in todays video. She is tired and yawning, but able to think, answer questions, use proper words, formulate sentences and is coherent and free from babble.
She is back on antibiotics and has had an intravenous cannula fitted. She is expected to receive her fluids and medication through it over the coming week as she is currently 'nil by mouth' in case the stroke has affected her ability to swallow.
She is being monitored to review the progress of the fluids in her plural cavity as they have not really changed, although any reabsorption would take several weeks. If things don't seem to improve, the plan to drain off the fluids that remain might come back to life.
There is a lot of work for her to do now with the physio therapist, the neuro occupational therapist and the stroke nurse, who will assess her ability to chew and swallow in the next few days.

22nd January 2014

Yesterday Rae was a little better, able to manage a few words such as ok, no and the phrase "that's it". Despite her improvement, she was refusing all food, drink and medication.
She was persuaded to drink some fluids and have a calorie rich milkshake when Jonathan arrived to see how she was.
Today she has made further progress, she can use more words and answer questions. She ate her lunch and has been sipping her water throughout the day. She is clearly still very confused, but is definitely more focused than Monday. Jonathan shot a little footage to show you on YouTube.
The doctors are confident that it is caused by the infection and that she should improve. The xrays of her chest show that the fluids have not changed and she is not absorbing them as it was thought she would. More tests will be done as she becomes more responsive and can understand what the doctors want her to do. Her blood pressure etc. is all normal and she seems to be quite comfortable.

20th January 2014

Oh dear! Something has happened. Rae is away with the fairies! She is quiet, it is unclear if she has understood what has been said to her. She can only babble incoherently when she says anything at all. Mostly, she just smiles sweetly in reply. It is clear that she cannot answer any questions.
"Bollocks." - Jonathan
The doctors are investigating: taking bloods; a mid-stream urine sample; a CT scan of her head.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can make patients very confused. A resurgance of the chest infection could also have that affect. Jonathan is scared though, because it could also be a cardio vascular accident(CVA), otherwise known as a stroke. She does not appear to be suffering any loss of motor function, so this is not the top candidate, but the symptoms will vary on the location and density.
Some delirium from an infection combined with a little age related memory loss could be all it is and it could improve with a good night's sleep. We must wait for the tests and to see what tomorrow brings.

19th January 2014

Rae has been moved, from the Short Stay Unit, to the Reablement ward. This is a new ward whose purpose is to aid people in their effort to regain the ability they had when they arrived at hospital, so Rae was able to walk around the supermarket with the aid of the trolly and do her shopping, but after a dozen days in hospital, she needs help to get out of bed to use the loo.
This means that the doctors feel that she has turned the corner and is so much better that they are ready to hand her over to the next team to prepare her for release into the wild.
She has been placed in a private room with its own ensuite and a small TV. She is feeling a bit more feisty again and is evidently much better than she was. She is complaining less about her bottom and the pains in her chest. She is still finding it very difficult to move about and is in a great pain when she moves about in bed. She is using a zimmer frame to help her walk.

17th January 2014

Rae is much better today. She is less confused, more responsive and less depressed. The plans for the drain have been shelved for now as she has made some progress that may make it unncessary.
She has lost a little weight, but is drinking more fluids and eating her snacks. Jonathan took her a new puzzle book to give her something to do and she was glad to have it as she had almost completed the ones he had left her with at the start of the week.
She is being well cared for and although her bottom is painful, it is being checked and is not red or inflamed. Stopping it hurting is setting them a challenge. She has returned to her habit of refusing to take the painkillers that would make her life so much easier.
The doctors are away over the weekend, so she will spend the weekend getting slowly better on her own and any new plans will wait until next week now. That includes physio and mental capacity assessments.
She is using the special cushion Jonathan took her to relieve the pressure on her coccyx and this seems to have helped to reduce the redness on her bottom.

16th January 2014

Rae has been in hospital for over a week now and all the time thinking she is about to come home. It has gradually become clearer though, that she needs a lot of time to rebuild her strength and also that she is quite clear that she doesn’t want to come home to Jonathan's house.
She is receiving treatment for her chest and for a pressure sore on her bottom and the physiotherapist is going to try to get her moving. She needs to participate in all this if it is going to succeed, but her mood has sunk as she has continued to feel unwell. The hospital are giving her something to improve that as well. As it seemed to be making her sleepy, it was changed so that they gave it to her just before bedtime instead of during the day.
Jonathan was initially quite concerned that she might not be getting enough food and water because she seemed to be starving herself, but she is doing better now.
Chest xrays have shown that the fluid remains in similar quantities in her plural cavity and so a procedure to fit a drain is planned.
She will be in the hospital on this ward or on a longer stay ward for some time and then she will probably be moved to an intermediate care facility similar to Crown Gardens in Alconbury where she spent some time recuperating after she broke her leg in 2006. She feels very depressed because of the pain in her bottom and the infections she has. If she can get over feeling ill and sort out her bottom, then she won’t feel so depressed. There is a great deal of uncertainty about where she will live, she is just not able to live alone in Kimbolton any more, she can’t cope with the stairs or cook or make her bed etc… and if she won’t live with Jonathan, then a care home must be found.
She recognises that she needs the help that is on hand overnight in the hospital and this is very different from struggling to get herself out of bed and then to walk to the loo in the middle of the night. The more that comes to light from the nurses and their records and through speaking to the doctor, the clearer it is that she was moved out of her little house and into Jonathan's at the right time and that just putting her in a place of her own, no matter where, is simply not enough because she needs more care than that. If she is in a care home, she will be able to get help in the night.
In an ideal world, she will make a full recovery, the sore on her bottom will respond to treatment and she will eat more so that she has enough strength to regain some mobility. Then she will feel able to return home and Jonathan can continue to look after her, but it isn’t an ideal world so we face uncertainty.
She is in no immediate medical danger and her heart and lungs are strong. She stands little chance of dying any time soon, no matter how much she wants to do it!

8th January 2014

Rae was suffereing from chest pains again, but they didn't respond to the pain killers, so she was taken in to the hospital.
It was a different membrane suffering from inflamation and causing the fluid build up, around her lungs this time. It gave similar symptoms, but didn’t respond to the ibuprofen, so she was admitted for treatment.
They took samples of the fluid from her chest for analysis. After a few days in the Accute Medical Assessment ward, she was moved up to the Short Stay Medical ward where they completed the course of antibiotics and continued to monitor her. The fluids that are causing the problem are not infected or pussy so the plan was to leave them so that they will be reabsorbed by the body in due course. In the meantime, she will continue to suffer the symptoms they are causing of pain and shortness of breath.

December 2013

Rae complained of chest pains. The hospital had a look at her and decided it might be a chest infection and prescribed anitbiotics.
Rae has always disapproved of pain killers, but was persuaded to have some ibuprofen. She felt better and returned home.
Rae was enjoying going for rides in the country and watching the autumn colours and to see the trees change as the leaves dropped. Jonathan managed to find a new adventure every day.
When the day came for the skiing trip, Marilyn had not shown up, so the only alternative was for Rae to go to Switzerland and so she packed her bag and went off with the family.
During the week, Rae began to suffer the same pains in her chest again and so she went to the local GP, just a trip downstairs in the lift. He wanted her to have a CT scan, so she needed to go to the hospital in the valley.
The hospital were very thorough and diagnosed pericarditis or an inflamation of the membrain around her heart that had caused some fluid to build up, every time she breathed in, it pressed on her heart and caused the pain.
The hospital prescribed ibuprofen and a drug to sooth its affects on her tummy and she came home after 24 hours of monitoring. She enjoyed the rest of the holiday and enjoyed the journey over the Jura and through France and the Tunnel.
Just after Christmas, the pains started to return, so she had some more ibuprofen and felt a bit better again. As she was feeling rather rough after Christmas Jonathan took over preparing her little meals.

October 2013

Rae is struggling to climb the stairs and do her own washing and hoovering. She is persuaded to move in to Jonathan's house a couple of miles away.
Her furniture is moved and the next couple of weeks are spent putting up her paintings.
Rae's daughter Marilyn arranged to come for Christmas in mid December and so the rest of the family arranged to take a week off to go skiing in the middle of December.

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Copyright Jon Young 2005-2014. Last updated 12/03/2014.