Earlier this year, I copied and pasted all the Facebook posts from when Bob was ill last year into a single document. I meant to post them up here with a bit of elaboration. Then some daft woman called an election so that idea went out the window.
What I shared on social media at that time was a very sanitised version of the absolutely terrifying truth. Bob and I would agree the day’s post every night before I left the hospital.
There was, of course, much more to it than that. A year on from his admission to hospital, I am going to tell the story as it happened in a series of posts that will take us to the anniversary of his homecoming in November.
As I said the other day, the anniversary has hit me like a train. I mostly managed to hold it together and portray calmness and serenity while it was all happening. A year on, I am a mess. I’m hoping that writing it all down will help finally process it all.
So, here are the first day’s posts – with some elaboration in italics.
28 September 2016
They don’t think there is anything major wrong but the ambulance people have taken Bob to hospital for some tests. I am heading down now after him. They were very good and checked him over thoroughly in the house.
So I got back from Witney, where I’d been out campaigning for the wonderful Liz Leffman, at about 11pm. I knew that Bob had taken ill again and I was trying to get him to phone the doctor. He wouldn’t – and kept insisting that he just had Flu.
I spoke to him several times during the day and became progressively more worried. When I arrived home, he didn’t seem as bad as I expected, but there were three things that worried me about him and I started googling “Sepsis.” What I read alarmed me enough to ring NHS 24. Their call handler was significantly unworried by what I was describing and put him on a 3 hour call back.
When a nurse eventually rang, it took her about 10 minutes to decide to call a blue light ambulance. It drew up at about 4:30 am. The paramedics examined Bob who was insisting that he didn’t need to go to hospital. They didn’t think there was anything major to worry about as his ECG was normal, but they felt that he was a bit dehydrated and could do with some fluids. I told Bob that I thought he should go with them and followed him down in the ambulance – once I’d settled Hazel down. She had not been delighted to find strangers in her house sticking things on her Daddy.
By the time I got to the hospital 20 minutes later, he was hooked up to a drip and wondering what all the fuss was about because he only had the Flu.
Then all hell broke loose.
A doctor came in and told us that a blood test had revealed a high level of Troponin, which would indicate that he’d had a severe heart attack. They were completely bamboozled, however, because his ECG was fine. They were also worried about the obvious signs of infection. So they started to treat him for a heart attack and an infection.
I remember sitting there open-mouthed. Neither of us could work out when he could have possibly had a heart attack. He had certainly had a significant amount of pain in his shoulder over the day but he’d attributed that to the shivering.
I kept saying that it was a lot to process and Bob kept pointing out that I had already said that. It was a very strange feeling, like we were frozen in time while all these people kept bustling in with pills and potions and needles and drips and monitors. He was taken up to a ward and put in the room right next to the nurses’ station while a succession of doctors came in and examined him. He was put on telemetry which monitored his heart 24/7. Some poor person in a broom cupboard had to watch them all and, as we were to discover, act if something went awry.
28 September 2016 – morning
Bob is dozing and they are pumping various drugs into him at a spectacular rate of knots. He is in a lot of pain & we are a long way from knowing what the hell is going on. Thanks for all good wishes.
Pretty much everyone we came across at the hospital was brilliant to us. There was one person who wasn’t, though. I nipped home to get some stuff for Bob and when I came back, the car park was full. I went into the other car park. You had to buzz at an intercom to get the porters to lift the barrier. I said that I was there to see my husband. “Dear, ” came the disembodied, pained voice of a porter, “This car park is for patients. You are not the patient. You can’t park here.” These people maybe need to realise that some people visiting the hospital are really stressed and in the biggest crisis of their lives. It’s a time for kindness, not cold, wearied condescension.
28 September 2016 – early evening
Still not much in the way of answers but Bob has improved a lot with IV fluids and antibiotics. He isn’t in anything like as much pain. He hasn’t yet got to the stage of giving me cheek but this all feels a lot better than it did 12 hours ago. Let’s hope this keeps up.
He really appreciates all the good wishes, as do I. It all just underlines how lucky we are to have such brilliant friends.
Seriously, if you ever wonder if messages left on Facebook actually help in a crisis – believe me, they do. Bob was aware of every single one of them and I would not have survived the next few months without the support of my friends from all over the world.
28 September 2016 – mid evening
Home now, having left Bob sleeping peacefully listening to Radio Grapevine as a patient. Now trying to summon up the energy to take Miss Hazel for a walk. I don’t think I’ve actually had a good night’s sleep since Saturday so feeling pretty knackered.