I have always been very close to my parents and was always a “Daddy’s girl”, my father was older than my peer’s Dad’s but he was still young at heart, he said my brother and I kept him young. Although well into his retirement he was still a hard working, active man whether it be at the Church my parents attended, gardening/DIY at home, or generally helping out in the local community, he rarely sat about doing nothing.
Mr R and I had gone to my parents’ along with my brother for Christmas dinner, Dad was smartly dressed as always but was wearing his dressing gown over his clothes, he said he couldn’t get warm although the heating was on full blast. He’d gotten so thin from not eating much in recent months but everyone put it down to ones appetite shrinking as you get older, Dad still looked really well though and had a healthy colour to his skin.
Even though we only live a few miles from my parents and I spoke to them almost daily, with work and social commitments, we didn’t see them again until mid January when we popped in on our way to friends. Dad was again wrapped up with his dressing gown over his clothes, complaining how cold it was. Mum said she’d had to call the Dr out late the night before because Dad had vomited blood, the Dr had examined him and said if it continued he was to go to hospital, but it stopped as quick as it’d started and Dad had a good night’s sleep.
4 days later, whilst I was at work Mum called my mobile. I always panicked when either of my parents called my mobile rather than on my home or work phone, and I was right to panic, Dad had been taken to hospital suffering a mini stroke (TIA). I called my brother and my husband, met my husband at home and we dashed to the hospital. Dad was in A & E, by the time we got to him he seemed to have recovered well from the TIA but the Drs wanted to keep him in the AAU overnight for observation. Overnight turned into 2 nights, then 3, then 4… Dad was on tablets for Diabetes and a blood disorder he’d been diagnosed with some 20 years before whereby his body produced too much blood, but the hospital swapped his doses around and his once perfectly controlled Diabetes was now all over the place going from extremely high to extremely low. Numerous blood tests and poking and prodding, nobody would tell us what they were looking for. Dad was going rapidly downhill, he had a band on to show he was lactose intolerant but every meal he was served contained lactose, promises of food he could eat were never kept. Nobody saw that he wasn’t eating and nobody listened to us when we voiced our concerns, nor did we get answers to the questions we asked, the Dr was always on their way but they never arrived whilst we were there. Dad grew weaker, meals (still containing lactose) were left in front of him but he was too weak to feed himself, he couldn’t even lift a glass of water for himself, he was also now losing the ability to speak. On the sixth day that Dad was in hospital we arrived to find him laying in his bed, screaming in pain, it was explained that he’d been taken for a scan (the type where they pump dye through your body) but nobody told us what they were scanning for or what was found, again it was promised a Dr would be round to see us and yet again no Dr arrived. The next day Dad was still in excruciating pain and now completely incapable of speaking, and yet again every request to nurses for answers fell on deaf ears. Eventually just after 4pm a Dr came onto the ward and straight over to us, she gave a lame excuse which I shot down, she said we didn’t understand and lead us to a side room.
He’s going to die – a body riddled with blood clots, infarcts of the lungs and liver, his body was shutting down bit by bit; they could keep him alive but he wouldn’t be a candidate for resuscitation; palliative care – we all broke down. How could this be, Dad had had a mini stroke, he’d recovered well, what had caused him in those following days to go so down hill?? We had 10 minutes to decide how we wanted him to be treated. There was only one choice, to make his final hours or days as comfortable as possible. Dad was still on the main AAU ward, constantly crying out in pain, my Aunt and Uncle who’d visited that day persuaded the Dr to move Dad to his own room. Once Dad was settled in his room we all went home to try and sleep, I don’t think any of us did.
The next day we arrived early at the hospital, Dad had been hooked up to a saline drip (only after Mr R had begged the nurse, again, to do something to help as he couldn’t eat or drink), was still in pain but it had settled a bit. Two Drs came to see Dad, they said they were there to assess the palliative care and he’d start receiving it in an hour or two. He never did, in fact we didn’t see any medical staff until late that afternoon when they moved Dad to a ripple bed, and that was another farce! Family visited, as did some friends, and the Vicar of the Church my parents attended. Dad hadn’t spoken a word since 4 days before but, with the Vicar by his side, he said the Lord’s Prayer. The Vicar spoke to him and prayed for him, and Dad said something, I can’t remember what, but Mum says she believes he’d either seen Jesus or a family member on the other side and he knew it was his time to go. I’ve since read an article that says people dying do quite often see someone they know on the other side, calling them home. Dad kept on asking what was happening and why weren’t we helping him, all we could say was we didn’t know and that we were trying to help him. We all took it in turns to go in search of a nurse or Dr, the saline drip had run out and Dad still hadn’t received palliative care, nobody came. A health care assistant came in with dinner for Dad! How ridiculous, the man is dying, he can’t move and he can’t eat, just get us a Dr and some f***ing morphine! Finally my cousin tracked down the Sister and gave her short shrift, she promised the palliative care which had been “signed off” at 11am was coming, it was now gone 6pm. Eventually just Mum, my brother, husband and I were left with Dad, still screaming out in pain, 7.30pm the Sister came back with a saline drip and morphine, the morphine took effect quite quickly and Dad stopped screaming, he slept peacefully for the first time in days. He occasionally opened his eyes as if to check we were still there, we were, there was no way we were leaving his bedside. 10pm I told my Mr R to go home as he had to work the next day, my Mum, brother and I sat with Dad speaking in hushed tones and saying our goodbyes, I couldn’t let go of Dad’s hand. 10.15pm on the 27th January 2010 Dad passed away, and my heart broke.
God saw you getting tired, and a cure was not to be, so he put his arms around you and whispered “Come to Me”.
With tearful eyes we watched you and saw you pass away and although we love you dearly we could not make you stay.
A Golden heart stopped beating, hard working hands at rest. God broke our hearts to prove to us He only takes the best.
I have a lot of time for the NHS and it’s staff (my Mum used to be a Sister and Midwife, and my first job was in the NHS) but the lack of care received at this hospital was absolutely disgusting. Mum and one of my cousin’s both wrote letters of complaint, both were answered, eventually, but my Mum’s complaint is still outstanding with no proper apology or answers. The hospital said we could have a meeting with them but despite Mum’s calls it’s never been arranged. I’ve been waiting nearly 2 years now for a chance to tell that hospital exactly what I think of their standard of care, and I really know I shouldn’t say this, but the part of me that still carries so much anger and hurt for the way my Dad and us as a family were treated by that hospital needs to just get it out there – I sincerely hope that each and every member of staff that played a part in my Dad’s “care” will know what it’s like to watch someone you love suffer in such an undignified manner. Those of you that know me might be surprised by that comment, it certainly doesn’t fit my usual personality, but anyone who’s been in the same situation will understand completely.