Go, go, go and get the priest and then go get the booze, boys

Today is my lovely Dad’s funeral.  Correction – Step Dad – as the po-faced lady at the bank would have it – not a blood-relative at all.   Neither is my husband – but apparently I’m splitting hairs.

We prepared for this though.  When my lovely Mum died intestate back in 2009, my Dad went off to the solicitors and had a will drawn up; he also had lasting power of attorney papers sorted out so that if he ever lost his marbles (his phrase) my hub and I could step in for him. My brother and sister live miles away so it was practical to have my hub and I as primary executors of the will.  For the last 12 days since he died, we have worked like mad to honour that position of trust and hey – we’re nearly there.

There were the 10 days of hell at the hospital first.  That first night in A and E discovering that my Dad’s illness was terminal and that he had known about it for months but chosen not to tell any of us or seek any active intervention because he didn’t want us to worry. It was a long night and between us we put the world to rights and once the initial impact wore off I made sure that I really knew what it was that he wanted.

Settling him down on a ward that I knew had a bad reputation and stank of stale urine, my first thoughts were ‘how long have we got left and can’t we find a better place for him to die?’

Precious time was lost due to the cursed Jubilee.

When we brought him in to A and E that night, he admitted to me that he hadn’t eaten for a couple of days.  His poor hands and feet were swollen and purple; nurses and doctors all tried and failed to find a vein strong enough to get some fluids inside him.  They managed eventually and when we came in the following morning, he seemed quite chipper.

By Tuesday – the second rainy bank holiday – he was almost as bad as the night we’d brought him in.  Hub and I visited and found that he’d been taken off the drip but that his table – way out of his reach – had three plastic beakers of cold tea, one of water and one of squash that we’d made for him the day before.  His hands were swollen and purple again and I kicked off at the nurses who had left him to get in that state.

Bad things were going on in that ward.  I heard one of the nurses complaining that the Director of Nursing had taken away the nurses station from the corridor because it encouraged the nurses to sit and chat instead of looking after the patients.  Good move!  Trouble is, they congregate now in the room marked ‘Sister’s office’ and even with the door left ajar, once inside they are removed from their main purpose again and difficult to dislodge.

Hub and I listened one precious visiting hour (there were only two –  1530 to 1630, and 1830 to 1930) whilst a young nurse sat next to a patient and announced that she had to do a risk assessment on him and did he mind?  As she didn’t explain to him what a risk assessment was and why she had to do it, he – like so many other patients and relatives on the ward – accepted that it had to be done.  She didn’t draw the screens round him or make any attempt at confidentiality.  She asked him a range of questions, some of which were particularly personal and we were all soon privy to his bowel and bladder issues as well as his tendency to fall over. She delivered her questions in a disinterested monotone; reading them off the risk assessment sheet with no attempt to tone down the medical jargon and explain what the questions meant.

She moved across the ward to a patient who actually had visitors and proceeded to carry out the whole procedure again – in front of his visitors and eating into his precious time with his family.  he didn’t like to say no in case he offended her.

Fortunately for her, she got called away before she had the opportunity to try this out with my Dad.  My lovely Dad who was back on a drip now and wasting away before my eyes.  He was obviously in pain but wouldn’t ask for pain relief. How many times did I say to doctors and nurses  “This is a man who didn’t even have injections when he went to the dentist.  He is a kind and gentle man who doesn’t like to make a fuss, but I can see the pain in his eyes and in his face.  I am his advocate and although I’m not medically trained even I know that the cancer that is eating away at him is causing him pain.  Help ease that pain please?”

They offered him co-codamol and a drink that he couldn’t swallow.  The young and not very helpful doctor talked about chemotherapy and investigative surgery but had to agree that these ‘solutions’ would not help him and would only cause him more pain’.

College Boy and Uni Boy managed to get in and see their Grandad.  The Grandad who was so proud of them and their achievements, who made sure that he always had a fiver in his pockets for each of them, whose eyes shone when he spoke about them.  He managed to rally round enough to speak to them and to tell me to look near the bed – by the carpet – and where he had left the will and Mum’s probate.

When we visited his house later that night and moved the bed, we found the bundle of cash left there to deal with the immediate things when he’d gone.  He also left a comprehensive filing system for his affairs – he never threw anything away but wrote on the outside of the envelope so we wouldn’t have to rummage too much initially.

On Friday morning hub and I got called over to the hospital to see the doctor.  She finally admitted that having spoken to his consultants, there was little they could do but make him comfortable.  “And pain-free?”  I said and was told that he had now been written up for diamorphine. I spoke to the ‘end of life’ nurse about the possibility of getting my Dad transferred to our local hospice and she said she’d look into it but that it couldn’t be done until the consultants had a better idea of how long he had.  At that time we were hoping he’d make it to Father’s Day but celebrating his 84th birthday in August didn’t seem to be a realistic.

The rest of the family came up from the south, in filthy weather conditions, but were able to spend time with him that night.  We’d been told that we could visit whenever we wanted now.  It took until ten o’clock that night and only then at the insistence of my family, to get him the diamorphine that had been prescribed for him that morning.

Our family went back home the next day after saying their goodbyes.  Hub and I went in for afternoon visiting and found my Dad, very obviously distressed, sat bolt upright in bed, screens pulled right back and the ward awash with visitors with rampaging kids who were laughing as he grimaced in pain.

We pulled the curtains round quickly and I sent hub for a nurse after discovering that my Dad had tried to pull the restrictive hospital gown away from his neck and in doing so had dislodged the canula in his arm so that it was sticking upright, the drip tubes were useless and bent,  and his hands were swelling up again.

A student nurse came.  She explained that she had sat my Dad up so that he could see what was going on and put the gown on him instead of pyjamas because it was easier – easier for whom exactly?  I know the answer.  The  screens were drawn back so that nursing staff could see him – but as we pointed out – no one appeared to have been looking.

We got him settled down eventually, and the squeeze of my hand and the look in his eyes were enough to know we were doing the job he needed us to do.  I spoke to another junior doctor – who seemed confused about why the previous doctor hadn’t put him on the care pathway – no more blood tests or drips – just peace and quiet and pain relief.  She promised to get him on a side ward as soon as she could.  She’ll make a brilliant doctor – unlike the officious contemporary we’d previously been dealing with.

When I phoned on Sunday morning, I was told that he was being n moved into a side room, so I decided to wait till the afternoon before visiting.  Poor hub had picked up Norovirus when visiting the ward (together with a doctor, two nurses and several patients) so College Boy came in with me.

I frequently embarrass my sons; I see it as part of my motherly duties.  Uni Boy shrugs it off with a resigned and mildly sarcastic comment but there are times when I only have to breathe and College Boy is consumed by discomfort at my behaviour (over familiarity with his friends is guaranteed to raise his  ire).

My Dad was in a side ward right at the end of the corridor.  It was a warm day and the little room was sweltering.  Not only had they put the hated and restrictive hospital gown on him, but some bright spark had also put a high-necked tee-shirt on underneath it.  When we got in he was pulling at it, pressing his feet against the end of the bed as the pain came in waves and I couldn’t find his chart to see when he last had any diamorphine.

I ran out into the corridor and got a nurse, who said she’d help but didn’t come back.  Ten minutes later I accosted two doctors who were chatting in the corridor (I assumed they were doctors because they weren’t wearing uniforms and had stethoscopes round their necks).  I didn’t shout.  I barked.  I demanded pain relief for my Dad STAT!

It was only whilst I was stalking away from their shocked faces and back into my Dad’s room that I realised that STAT! is American medical terminology and I’d probably been watching too much ‘House’ and ‘Scrubs’.

To his credit, College Boy didn’t reprimand me for my excruciating behaviour,  he just sat patiently holding his Grandad’s hand whilst I raged around the room.

The kind nurse came back with the diamorphine, accompanied by the extremely irritating ward sister and between them they cut off the offending tee-shirt, my Dad was in too much pain and too frail to have it taken off any other way.

I calmed down and got agreement that I could bring my Dad’s radio in.  The tiny room had nothing else to distract him from the pain.  A phone call to hub and half an hour later the DAB radio we brought my Dad a couple of years ago and that was his constant companion in the house, was on the bedside locker and crooning out Radio Two.  My Dad didn’t open his eyes but he squeezed my hand.  The irritating ward sister said it was hard to tell when my Dad was in pain because he ‘wouldn’t communicate with the staff’.  I nearly communicated with her with my fist.

The kind nurse said she would be looking after my Dad now, and would speak to the doctor about having an auto-injector system to deliver pain relief – something that should have been done much earlier when they decided to stop the interventions. Hub was a bit better on Monday and came in with me; I’d warned him that if I found the radio turned off, no auto-injector and another unnecessary tee-short – I was going to really kick off.

The radio was on.  The auto-injector was working. there was no tee-shirt under the hospital gown, and even that had been pulled away from his neck.  The kind nurse had given my Dad a shave, a wash and  brush up.  We went home feeling  slightly less frantic that night although I still wanted to punch the irritating ward sister for simpering at me as we left.

I’d taken two days off to finish my current OU assignment but that got pushed onto the back burner. I was also down to attend an afternoon course on the Mental Capacity Act, and though I had an idea that some of the content might be a bit close to home, it was a course I really wanted to do.

I made the right decision; and as we discussed lasting power of attorney, wills, and most importantly giving a voice to those who cannot speak up for themselves, rather than being upset, I felt validated in the choices and decisions I’d been making for my Dad.

Hub and I visited that night.  For the first time my Dad was asleep and didn’t even squeeze my hand.  I said goodbye and told how much I loved him, and how happy he’d made my lovely Mum, what a wonderful Dad and Grandad he’d been to me and hub and our boys. The kind nurse was there and she gave me a hug before we left.

The ward phoned at ten past twelve that to say that he’d gone.  he didn’t make it to Father’s Day.  When lovely Mum was dying in hospital, my Dad and I decided that we didn’t need to be there to see her go, and I made the same decision about him.  Death isn’t always peaceful and my memories don’t need to be marred by a tearful bedside scene set in the ward from hell.

So today is his funeral.  We have the same funeral company that we had for lovely Mum’s and the same kind vicar.  Some of the family are able to make it up here; I managed to make contact with a few of his friends and some friends of ours will be joining us in the pub to eat and drink in celebration of my lovely Dad’s life.

I used Facebook to update friends and family through all this; it’s less painful than phone calls and reaches out to even the most far-flung of our best beloveds.  The comments that came back all had the same sentiment; how sad was the loss of such a kind and gentle man.

My Dad, for he was that to me for over 40 years, loved my Mum, he loved beer, watching sport, jazz and laughing.  Harry Hill was his favourite although he enjoyed QI, Mock the Week and HIGNIFY especially. He was a man of depth and many hidden talents.

I keep saying to myself ‘I must tell him that, or I must ask him about that’ and pulling myself up short because he isn’t there to talk to anymore.

But like my first Dad and my lovely Mum, and all the other people who are up on the ledge waiting to meet us, I’ll carry him in my head and know that I’ll find the answers to my questions somehow.

Give Dexy a cuddle from us all as well please?  We miss him too.  Love you.xxx

Dexy – a very fine cat lived here

When I first met lovely hub, I was living in a studio flat with my cat Sam.  Sam was a rescue cat.  A bruiser but very loving, he used to bring his mates in when I was out at work and reward me with a dead rat whenever I made liver and bacon casserole for dinner.  I preferred it when he brought the rat straight to me rather than leaving it under the sofa or in an obscure corner.

Lovely hub moved in and as he’d never been able to have a pet due to allergies in the house, we acquired a rescue kitten called Elmer Fud.  Sam and Elmer eventually got on – although Sam wasn’t averse to giving this tiny black upstart a warning swat when he got too uppity.  We moved into a little terrace house and the cats settled in.  Three months later Sam became ill and had to be put to sleep when they found a tumour in his throat.  Through various means when we moved Up North six years later, Elmer Fud had been joined by four more rescue cats and Uni Boy.

Muffet died first; she and her sister Callie were rescued from a drunken pub singer called Imelda.  With her wild curly black  hair and an aura of booze, she blessed us for taking the last kittens from a litter of six born to an elderly  mother cat with cat ‘flu.  The vet told us they’d lost several of their seven lives already and that they probably wouldn’t live more than a couple of years.  Muffet achieved seven years and managed to make acquaintance with College Boy the year before she died – neither of them were particularly impressed. We buried her under the lilac tree in the front garden.

Tigger – as ginger, mad and bouncing as his namesake  – was run over the day before we moved to a bigger house on a quieter road.  He would have loved the new house and garden, so we took him with us and buried him under an impressive magnolia tree.

Then there were three; thin rangy black Elmer, tiny calico tortoise-shell Callie and Sylvester – a human in feline form.  Sylvester attached himself to us before Uni Boy was born.  A stray with a dirty matted coat, who smelled to high heaven but decided that he fancied living with us.  After he’d been washed, had his doormat of a coat clipped off and been taken to the vets to have the op and stop him spraying everything in sight, we discovered that he was a pedigree Maine Coon cat; big, fluffy and incredibly lovable.  He single-handedly saw off any dog that dared to wander into our garden but would just as happily sit on your lap, a huge black and white purring chunky lump.

Sylvester was the next to go; falling victim to FIV and fading very fast.  He’s under the pine tree that Father Christmas in the Delamere Forest gave us.  It was once a five-inch sapling and now it towers over the house.  I miss all our cats but Sylvester will always hold a special place in my heart.  Not long after he died we were asked to take in a pedigree Persian Blue called Sean.  He looked beautiful – if you liked squashed faces – but had the most unsociable personality.  He also came to us already under a death sentence of kidney problems.  We had a year of his scornful company before his kidneys failed and left us with another dead cat and hefty vets bill.

Elmer disappeared one day.  Always prone to wandering far afield and not being seen for a while we had grown used to this but when he failed to return after a few days we started to worry.  His black fur had turned a rusty-brown and with a digestive system that was never brilliant from the start, we eventually found out that he had crawled into a garden, died and been collected by the RSPCA.

Callie soldiered on until 2000 and we found her curled up and as peaceful in death as she had been in life.  We have a birdbath now in the middle of the lawn where she liked to sleep, and she lies underneath it.

‘No more cats!’ we both said.  Uni Boy and College Boy gave us looks.  A week later, on Father’s Day whilst lovely hub was working, my parents took me and the boys to the Cats Protection League.  Just to make life more exciting, the fire alarm went off and a fire engine turned up.  Much joy for two small boys: loads of cats AND firemen.  We found Abba and Dexy on death row.  A not particularly cute looking tabby brother and sister who were weeks away from being put down because they were six years old and no one wanted them.

A week later they were ours.  Abba was obviously the bossy big sister, she had an umbilical hernia which made her white fluffy stomach hang down and swing from side to side if she broke into a trot – which was rare.  She was my female ally in houseful of men and she was a feisty female who would lash out at anyone or anything that annoyed her – usually little brother Dexy or College Boy but she caught both me and lovely hub occasionally too.  She was with us for eleven years, ruling the roost but always purring, and she became deeply attached to my Dad when he and Mum moved Up North to join us.  

Abba was a judge of good character and was very useful in helping us choose a double glazing company. She sniffed at the first two reps and walked away in disgust, but when the third arrived, she sat on his feet purring and dribbling so he got the business.  She was right; his company did a good job and within a couple of years the other two companies had gone bust leaving disappointed customers.

Abba started going downhill last summer; she lost a lot of weight but seemed happy and  still had a good appetite.  She chose to die on September 11th – 9/11, on the day that lovely hub, my Dad and I were seeing Uni Boy off on a trip to Berlin.  Having waved him goodbye, we went on to a food festival but curtailed out visit because College Boy felt worried about Abba.  He was very good with her, sitting next to her on the sofa as her breathing became more laboured.  he told us to take Dad home first so that he wouldn’t be upset by Abba’s deterioration.

She died that night and I bought a lavender bush to plant on top of her grave.  After she died Dex became very vocal and very deaf.  Always the skinny cat, he never stopped eating and yelling – unless he was purring.  He and College Boy forged a bond so that hub and I became mere food providers and second best if College Boy wasn’t around. He committed GBH on me when I tried to remove a vole from his mouth.  His incisor went through my finger, right to the bone and necessitated a trip to A and E.  The tingling in the finger remains, nerve damage from his very effective gnashers,  Dexy’s legacy.

We’ve known he was living on borrowed time; he got thinner and more whiny, scavenging anything and everything that we left in his reach.  He survived College Boy’s recent rave, and nine months to the day his sister left us, hub and I found him, stretched out on the path by the front door in the late afternoon sunshine.  He just looked as if he had fallen asleep.  

I howled and was hugged by lovely hub and College Boy.  We wrapped Dexy up and put in the garage for now.  My Dad is dying in hospital, hub has Norovirus  that he caught on the ward, and College Boy has tonsillitis and drugs. We’ll dig a grave by the buddleia and plant some more lavender bushes.

Dexy was a very fine cat.

Only 9 hours in A and E – The Duke of Edinburgh isn’t the only one on hospital food

Sunday 3rd June; more jubilee stuff and the heavens have been pouring down on the celebrating masses since the early hours.  Lovely hub is home from his night shift , College Boy has eventually gone to bed and I will be on duty at nine o’clock.

The morning is busy with a couple of complex cases that require long phone calls to sort out. Twitter provides a welcome distraction and I don’t feel at all deprived because I can’t watch endless newsreels about the Jubilee and the Flotilla.  Up here in the North we are not a part of the damp jollity going on in ‘that’ London – phew.

By mid afternoon lovely hub is up and College Boy is not. I have decamped to the bedroom and whizzed through the channels on the TV to find something un-Jubilee.  I cooked up a load of Manchester sausages on Saturday and lovely hub is going to pop them over to my Dad this afternoon to see if they will tempt his flagging appetite.

I know that Dad has been undergoing a series of tests and by what he hasn’t been telling me I know that it is serious.  Whilst College Boy uses the word ‘whatever’ to express his contempt for the rest of the world, my Dad uses it in a vague ‘Ooh I can’t remember the word – well actually I can but I don’t want to worry you’ kind of way whenever I ask questions.

When he came over for a barbecue last weekend he had shed his customary jacket and I was shocked at how much weight he seems to have lost suddenly, how frail he looks and the difficulty he had getting down the step to the patio.

He got sick of my asking questions and went into total vague but I made him promise that if he really felt unwell or needed anything at all he would call me.

The house phone went in the middle of the afternoon a week later and lovely hub rushed up the stairs to tell me that Dad is on the phone and needs to speak to me.  Sod’s Law that I am already on the work phone and writing furiously but I manage to call him back within five minutes and it doesn’t sound good.  Not eating or drinking, still in his dressing gown and feeling dreadful.

No point in getting the OOH GP – who I know is rushing round like a loon on the bank holiday weekend.  No point calling an ambulance for the same reason. Lovely hub is putting on his shoes as I soothe my Dad and tell him help will be there soonest.

The scary thing about emergency work is that even when it is one of your nearest and dearest that is in crisis, the years of ‘get on and deal with it’ kick in and you only start shaking hours afterwards – when you can – safely.  So I spend the next  hour updating my records, throwing things into a suitably large handbag and putting on clothes that are practical for a long wait in A&E.

I phone family members and give them as much information as I have, promising to update them as and when.  College Boy is awake now but  oblivious due to his headphones and being in the midst of a virtual battle with someone on the other side of the world.  He gets a brief update and his first question is ‘Can I still have my party next Saturday?’  I kiss him but would prefer to strangle him right now.

My wonderful colleague relieves me an hour early just after I get a text from lovely hub to say that he has booked my Dad in and is on his way back to get me.

I still can’t panic and in truth, I don’t want to anyway.  When we get back to the hospital lovely hub goes in search of the cash machine for taxi fare for me later and to get change for the ever-present vending machine in the waiting room (change that I forget to ask for but manage to find enough in the bottom of my bag to get a KitKat).

Dad is there, looking small and ill; his poor hands are purple and swollen.  I want to jump up and shout at someone but this won’t help him and I don’t want him frightened even more. The waiting room is full of hopping people; slippery conditions  due to the rain or clumsiness brought on by too much jubilee cheer?  Within 15 minutes though a nurse comes out and bless her, once she sees how frail my Dad is she rushes for a wheelchair and we take him through to minors.

Within five minutes we are moving to resusc – assured by the nurse that we shouldn’t worry – we are only going there because majors is full.  Lovely hub and I leave for a while and sit in the waiting room holding hands whilst the nurses undress my Dad and wire him up to various machines.  When we return he is tired but resigned to whatever it is they will do to him, and my stiff upper lip wants to loosen but that won’t help anyone so we continue with the kind of inane banter  that relatives resort to in A&E.

The weather  is dreadful, bitter cold and torrential rain. A motorcyclist is brought in , wrapped in silver foil and with their head immobilised.  You don’t want to listen but you can’t help hearing and a little bit of someone else’s crisis takes the edge off our own.

Without having to use thumbscrews (fortunately) I learn that my Dad has been feeling unwell since I last spoke to him Friday night but hadn’t wanted to bother me.  He’s had nothing to eat or drink for two days and as a consequence at least five different members of staff fail to get blood out of his poor collapsed veins. The sweet and apologetic junior doctor finally squeezes enough blood out for tests and they set up a drip to get fluids inside him.  A drip that goes very slowly.

I sit back and let him do the talking; it’s a slow process but I need to curb the instinct to step in and take over because it is important that the staff to get his history from him.  I supplement when asked and the doctor goes off to hunt up the results of the tests that my Dad has been having over the past month.

Another biker is brought in and I nearly crack as his teenage daughter; long blonde hair, daisy dukes over black leggings and an ‘OMG’ tee shirt, sobs heartbreakingly; he too is wrapped in tinfoil and immobilised.  The grief of other people always seems so much worse than your own.

The doctor comes back. She draws the curtains round us and pulls up a chair.  My heart sinks.  They can sort out the immediate crisis and will be admitting my Dad once the medics have come down and had a look at him. In the long-term however, the test results that he wasn’t due to get for another couple of weeks state the bad news baldly.  The evil c-word that no one ever wants to hear.   The doctor is so kind and apologetic and as I write about it now I can cry but I couldn’t then.  I held one of his hands and she held the other and he took it in the stoical fashion that he always has, except for that one occasion  when I had to explain to him that my Mum was dying two years ago.

Life intervenes; I have had a text from Uni Boy and I text back in his medical terminology, knowing that he will understand just as he did when we looked at his Grandma’s CT scans together after her stroke.  I update my brother and he offers to disseminate so that I can get back to my Dad.  Lovely hub has to go to work and College Boy phones to say that he is hungry and are there any shops in the hospital where I can buy him something nice?  I tell him that I love him but again I could cheerfully strangle him.

Lovely hub leaves us and the staff turn the lights down to give my Dad a chance to rest.  he is now on his second bag of fluids but his heart rate is all over the place.  There is a glut of possible cardio admissions in majors who later turn out to have indigestion from Jubilee overindulgence.  An old man with a chest infection and much confusion sings hymns beautifully despite his daughter trying to hush him up.  the old lady opposite shouts endlessly into her oxygen mask and sounds like a fighter pilot.

The nurses doing half hourly obs on my Dad are unfailingly cheerful and kind; managing to persuade a surly security guard to steal a bed so that they can transfer my Dad off the uncomfortable trolley and let him get some sleep whilst we wait.  They grumble about the fact that all the wards are allowed to put up bunting and flags but not in A&E.  I stifle my Republican principles for a moment to commiserate.  It isn’t just my world after all.

The medic comes down to see my Dad, waking him from a fitful sleep; I have been alternately dipping into my Kindle, looking at research papers on overconfidence in identification (thrilling) and catching up on Twitter and Facebook.  Who needs the telly when your virtual chums are happy to update you on the damp flotilla and the subservient celebrities.  This is why I follow people who make me laugh with their acid observations.

At half-past one we hear that a bed is ready on the acute medical ward.  The porter, Jane the nurse, and I gather up my Dad’s belongings and take him on a journey through the dimly lit corridors, up in the lift to a ward that I know from memory will smell strongly of urine at this time of night due to the high number of little accidents and the low number of staff on duty.  Nevertheless the corridor is well-bedecked with bunting and our jolly porter dons a Union Jack bowler and does a little dance in the corridor for our amusement.

My Dad, having had three bags of fluid, medication for pain and to steady his heart, is quite wide awake and chatty now, so though I am hungry, thirsty and dog-tired,  (the Diet Coke and KitKat went long ago) I laugh with him and make jokes about his ‘hotel’ accommodation.  A surly man, fully dressed and fully mobile sits on the bed opposite, only disappearing once I draw the curtains for privacy.

A young nursing assistant patiently helps an old man off the commode and when she comes back from emptying it, calls my name.  She smiles and identifies herself as the daughter of someone I used to work with.  We exchange memories and she shows me a pictures on her phone of her nephew and niece.  Before she leaves she promises me that  she will keep a special eye on my Dad at night.  My eyes fill at this spontaneous act of kindness but I am determined not to crack.

Dad’s ‘special nurse’ comes in and with a line in gentle teasing banter, manages to get more information out of him in five minutes than I have all evening.  Once he’s settled I kiss him good night and after a few words with his nurse and a promise to call in the morning, I make my way back to the lift.

The surly man emerges from the lift and as I step in the smell of fags and booze is overwhelming – no prizes for guessing where he has been.  It’s now two o’clock.  I go back to A&E where the kind receptionist offers to get security to call me a taxi.  I thank her, as I have thanked so many people this evening.

I text my lovely hub at work to say that I am on my way home, then phone College Boy who has managed not to eat the sausages that I have been craving for the past five hours.  The young girl with the long blonde hair kisses her Dad as he is taken up to the ward; luckily he only has a fractured collarbone, his ruined leathers and crash helmet saved the rest of him.

My taxi arrives in five; a jolly young Scouser who chats sympathetically and wishes my Dad well when he drops me off at home.

College Boy and whingy cat are still wide awake and I have texts to respond to from lovely hub.  The indigestion-giving sausages taste wonderful.  I try not to get cross with College Boy’s unsubtle probing and finally get to bed about three o’clock.

I get up when lovely hub comes home at seven; he looks desperately tired and although for a very brief moment when I first woke up  my thoughts were merely of bunting and all that crap on the TV, reality came back again and I remembered that it hadn’t been a dream.

I had breakfast, phoned the hospital and was happy to hear that Dad had a good night and was tucking into porridge.  did an update on Facebook for far-flung friends and family and was touched by the speedy and loving responses I got.

We visited in the afternoon and the horrible smell was gone.  Dad was looking much better – all the drips had vanished and he was has a post-prandial doze having feasted on veggie soup, cheese sandwich, fruit cocktail and ice cream.  We took orders to collect his mobile phone, charger and to get some shortie biscuits in case he fancied a nibble with his tea.

College Boy was persuaded out of his pit for the evening visit – he evening took his earphones out and stood solemnly next to his dad at the end of the bed.  Dad was sitting out in the armchair clad in ver smart red pjs.  His hands and feet had returned to a normal size and colour and he was wearing what looked like a pair of fluffy knock-off Ugg boots – NHS issue. Phew!  The surly man’s bed is being cleaned and his name has been wiped off the whiteboard – another phew!

It’s Tuesday now and we’re visiting this afternoon and I’m on duty tonight, back to work tomorrow.  Doubt if we’ll get College Boy to visit again but Uni Boy is coming home on the train after his last exam on Thursday, family are coming up towards the end of the week and by that time my Dad should be on a long-term medical ward for assessment and we’ll now a bit more about what the future holds.

Next time College Boy asks about his party I must bite my tongue because at eleven am on Monday 4th June I was on Sarah Millican’s weblink getting tickets for her new material show next Sunday, with the crisis on the back burner.  So I am just as much in the self-centred NOW as he is (that’s where you get it from my son, I too was a truculent teenager – ask my poor Dad!).  I got the tickets and have two spare tickets (ladies only) up for grabs too.

Thank you lovely family and friends – for being there and understanding – things are going to be easy for my Dad but my aim is to  keep him comfortable. pain-free and loved while we can.  Lovely hub and I are off up the monument for some fresh air before visiting but I’d better get dressed first 🙂

Bored by bugs and all that bunting

The end of my first week back at work.  Don’t tell anyone but it’s been good to be back.  I can wax lyrical about giving up work to write, do gardening and  – tidy up this pit of a house – but I enjoy people too much and I’m far too nosey to isolate myself from the world yet.

The bug is proving hard to shift – I’m fine in the mornings – once I’ve lubricated my sore old throat, but as the day wears on, my neck gets sore and the swollen glands make me take on that disturbing hamster-like appearance.  Ice cream helps.  As do Frappucinos.  And rum – but not at the same time. It will pass.  It’s just this sluggish immune system that holds onto infection like it was the best present in the world.  It ain’t.

Torch mania hit us on Thursday – well, when I say us I mean those people who actually give a damn.  In no way would I diminish the visit of the Olympic torch to this town – or the huge enjoyment that it gave to many but I CBA with it (College Boy tells me that CBA is acceptable and it means you aren’t using swear words when you express your opinion).  I know that the Olympics will bring a lot of money into the country but it is also costing an awful lot of money at a time when we haven’t got much to chuck around.  I also question the motives of those people organising events related to the torch procession.  ‘2012’ and it’s hopelessly impractical spin is so close to the truth.

I heard from a friend whose daughter took a group of primary school children to one of the torch events (along with numerous other schools – described as ‘rent a crowd’).  The children made headdresses out of paper and card – on the lines of the Olympic flame.  They also made maracas out of plastic bottles covered in papier-mache.  The torch was only going to be in this particular place for about half an hour around one o’clock.  Because of the traffic issues and the fact that this particular school was the furthest away from the event, the children were collected by coach at 0945 hrs and taken home at 1610 hrs. That’s a long day for little kids.

It rained.  Soggy headdresses  drooped and and small children got stuck in with gluey maracas.  Not much in the way of entertainment for them whilst enduring the long wet wait; a choir with a repertoire of three songs that weren’t really geared to children.  Nowhere to sit but a muddy field.  Nowhere to shelter and the view inevitably blocked by a bunch of publicity-seeking local dignitaries who couldn’t give a monkey’s about the hundreds of children who had been standing in the rain all day or the staff who had to try to keep them amused.    This happened when Her Maj came the other week and opened up the same neighbourhood centre where the procession was being held. Who the hell organises these things and don’t they know about fair and foul-weather planning?

Friends from work used their flexi time to nip along and watch.  Some came back with photos – usually of the ground – or someone’s legs – a portion of torch – or most common – the convoy lorry blocking everyone’s view.  We stayed in the office.  It was warm and dry. We were SO smug.

I got a lift into town after work to get my bus home and was greeted by the aftermath of the parade.  A lorry and several workmen loading up metal barriers and the rozzers loading up a couple of handcuffed local naughty boys into the back of the police van.  Didn’t miss much there then.

The TV footage shown that night had been suitably edited to show only the smiling faces – euphoric despite the rain.  I’m glad they enjoyed it at least.

So now we have Her Maj’s Jubilee weekend and more bloody bunting!  It’s everywhere.  Every shop, hundreds of houses, TV programs and even Twitter.  Google has a slightly more tasteful representation – I like the corgi.  I’ve nothing against Her Maj – except that she costs us rather a lot of money – like the rest of her extended  parasitic and dysfunctional  family.  Yes,yes – they bring in tourists etc – yes, yes – we are the envy of other countries (sez who? Sounds like spin to me) but considering how well-orf Her Maj is – it would be a nice gesture if she made a hefty contribution towards her Jubilee celebrations instead of expecting local authorities to dig deep in the already empty pockets.  We could use that money so much more wisely.

I am grateful for the two days off – although hub and I are both working this weekend so it’s not really a four-day weekend for us.  I’m not looking forward to TV viewing dominated by royalty-related rubbish – thank goodness the digibox is well-stocked with stuff we haven’t had a chance to watch in the week. We are also going to fit in a trip to York to see Uni Boy – who is 19 yrs old today – where did the time go?

Having announced his intention of having a party once the exams are over, College Boy veers between entreaties and threats in effort to get the house tidied and us out of it.  When he is behaving well – i.e. not being shouty and demanding, leaving rubbish and crockery/cutlery in his room, or leaving a trail of discarded dirty washing in his wake – then hub and I nod sagely as he outlines his plans and hope fervently that he behaves very badly beforehand so that we can cancel the party and prevent our house from being trashed by thirty adolescent timebombs.

Back in the day we used to hold a lot of parties here and the house got cleaned and tidied before and after.  We also acquired numerous bottles of unopened wine and enough chilli and Pringles to feed us all for a few days.  The house definitely needs a clear out though and we could always go down to Chester for the evening and have pizza and much chortling at the Laugh Inn.

So Chez Chiara will NOT be spouting bunting this weekend.  The gazebo was up for a barbecue but came down when it rained and we CBA to put it up again at the moment.  I don’t think there are any plans for a street party in this quiet suburban backwater  – good luck to those who are having them and I really hope you have a good time because we could all do with some cheerfulness after the doom and gloom.

Enjoy your pasties and forget for a few days that the ConDems are just biding their time before they slide through some far more dangerous and insidious changes – DLA, police and NHS cuts spring to mind.

Where’s that rum?