Sunday, April 27, 2008

A hurried trip to Salisbury

Barb sent us a text message as we were coming back from Manchester airport last Wednesday, to tell us that The Builder’s father had been taken to hospital with a chest infection. It seemed, though, as if he was doing all right.

Nothing much changed on Thursday.

On Friday, Gwen rang in the evening sounding quite distressed. Mick had taken a turn for the worse. In a series of conversations with various people, we decided that we had best go to Salisbury on Saturday, perhaps for the weekend, hopefully for the day. We arranged to stay at Barb’s, if need be.

At 3:30 on Saturday morning, Barb rang to say that the hospital had sent for Gwen and that Mick was fading. Barb set off to collect Gwen and The Builder’s sister Marie.

At 4:30, she rang to say that he was fading faster and that the doctors thought he probably wouldn’t make it. We got up and started making preparations to leave. But not until 7. No point us rushing about and having an accident and making matters worse.

At 6:30, Marie rang to say that Mick looked as though he was improving slightly. He was talking coherently to the pretty nurses (I don’t know how he was going with the not pretty nurses!). We told her we were about to leave and set off.

We got to the hospital at around 11. I have to say that I have never, ever seen anyone who looked quite as ill as Mick did. I admit that I have never attended a death bed (The people whose death beds I might have attended were either too far away, or dropped down dead without invoking a bed scene). I was quite surprised that anyone who was so very poorly was still breathing. Marie and Barb assured me that he had looked very, very much worse at 4:00 when they had got to the hospital. I found this hard to picture!

Marie and Barb handed over the bed sitting and keeping Gwen company to The Builder and me and went off to attend to other matters.

They are pumping Mick with industrial strength antibiotics to deal with the pneumonia/chest infection. He is on various drips and wotsits. Regular blood sugar level tests are being taken. As the day progressed his urine, from the catheter, began to take on a more normal colour. Life returned to his eyes. He began to look only very ill instead of mortally ill. He even managed to have a little lunch. (We took Gwen to the hospital cafe while Mick was being tempted to lunch by a pretty nurse). When we came back, he was able to make conversation with us. A pretty physiotherapist came and shook and wobbled his chest. A male staff nurse came and took his observations. Everyone seemed very happy with his progress. The staff nurse suggested that perhaps the obs, apart from the finger blood tests, could be dropped back to every couple of hours.

I must say, though - I am surprised how much trouble is being taken to get him better. If it were me, at 85, with emphysema, asthma and barely controlled diabetes, unable to do any of the things I enjoy doing, effectively house and pretty much chair bound, and having been in very indifferent health for months - I’m not sure I would want them to make quite such heroic attempts to save me. A quiet slipping away might be preferable.

However, the efforts have been made, and we’ve heard nothing from Salisbury so far today - so I assume he is still with us and still making progress. The physio and the staff nurse were talking about letting him out of bed and into a chair tomorrow (Monday) if all continues to go well.

Gwen is bearing up with considerable fortitude. But she is clearly very tired. Mick had said to her on Saturday that he was really very tired of all this and that he wished it were time to go. I think, when the phone rang at 3:30, that she thought he had probably packed his bags and left. Not yet. Not quite.

It is quite clear that if Gwen wishes to misbehave, she is going to have to go away from where she lives to do it. A fair number of people had observed her leaving at just before 4 in the morning - though quite what they were all doing awake at that time is a mystery to me. I wouldn’t have been, had it not been for the 3:30 phone call. And if I had been inadvertently awake, I wouldn’t necessarily be paying attention to what my neighbours were doing. However, when we took her home at about 4, lots of people enquired if all was well and what was going on.

We had great fun getting to Salisbury. There wasn’t all that much traffic, given that we left at 7:00 on a Saturday morning. All was going swimmingly - until we got just beyond Oxford, when the road we were on was abruptly closed at Abbingdon and traffic was diverted off. No notices, no signs, no indication of where we should go when we came off the road. Jenny the Sat Nav was appalled. Why had we left the main road? Get back onto it at once! I fished out the map and directed us off to the A338 which is not quite so direct but suffices - and is quite a pretty route. Jenny kept bleating at us, trying to take us back to the A34. We, however, didn’t know how far down the road was closed. We stuck with the map and the A338. Until it too was abruptly closed - though this time we did have the benefit of diversion signs! Took us through a very pretty valley, with little villages and race horse stables dotted about. Loads of jockeys out training the horses. Under less fraught circumstances, it would have been lots of fun. As it was, we lost an hour trying to get to the hospital. Still, at least we weren’t getting phone calls from Marie or Barb, so assumed things were OK and quite enjoyed the diversions. Jenny did not! And for some reason, as we progressed down the A338 (having finally met up with it again), she tried desperately, urgently and forcefully to get us off it. She wasn’t having any of it. She wanted us OFF that road. Eventually, for her own peace of mind, I turned her off!!

It was a beautiful day yesterday. We had been planning to spend it on the allotment and in the garden. And perhaps to make a quick visit to Salisbury today to see how things were. Today, when we are at home, it is, of course, raining. Or drizzling. Just enough to make digging on the allotment an unappealing prospect! I might plant seeds in pots instead.

I have finished the washing and the ironing!!! Hooray :-)
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