Monday, 17 March 2014

Annus Horribilis

2014 did not start in the best way possible and in fact only now is it appearing to be shaping up and turning into a better year, I have high hopes for April.

On December 23rd at 3am I was in a deep sleep, a little later, around 3.30am I dreamt that someone was trying to steal my duvet and I was desperately trying to hang on to it.  I started to wake up and my Mum was standing over me pulling on my duvet and saying "Stephanie, come and help me with your Dad, he's fallen down the stairs".

Each Christmas my Mum, Step-Dad Tim, Dad, sister Siobhan & brother-in-law Aaron go away to a cottage. As we're scattered around England and France usually, it makes it easier to all get together.

I jumped out of bed and followed Mum to where Dad was laying, on his side, under the Christmas tree.  After talking to him briefly, Mum & I decided the best thing was to move him, so as we turned him over I saw the bump on his head and struggled to contain the shock on my face as I saw a bloody lump the size of a lemon on the side of his forehead. 
I sat myself behind me, in a way reminiscent of the way people sat on the floor to do the 'Oops upside your head' dance way back when, supporting him.  Mum dashed off to dial 999.

I sat with Dad, reassuring him it was all going to be okay, as he was obviously very distressed.  His pyjamas were soaked with blood and it was impossible to tell if he had further injuries.

A short while later and the initial paramedic arrived, she chatted away with us, then peeled away the towels we had on Dad's head wound. She gasped and light-heartedly commented on what a sizeable bump it was.  I felt my stomach turn.
Mum asked if I was okay and I nodded.
The paramedic called for a further ambulance to transport Dad to the hospital and carried on treating Dad, talking to him all the time, cutting off his pyjamas to check for further injuries. 
As she worked I started to feel a little faint.
Mum asked again if I was okay or did I want Tim to sit behind me and prop me up?
I voted for being propped up.
On carried the paramedic, we'd got Dad covered in a blanket to keep him warm as the next ambulance was going to be a while.
Mum asked again if I was okay.
I gently shook my head.
I was hastily removed from behind Dad and he was propped up on pillows.
I crawled on my hands & knees to the nearby lounge, laid on the floor with my feet in the air, feeling utterly ridiculous, there was Dad with a serious injury and there's me on the verge of passing out.
Mum came into the lounge and in my fuzzy vision I saw her moving and tried to move out of the way, but instead very skilfully tripped her up instead and she fell forward, saving herself.
I think the paramedic thought we were just a family of disasters.

When I'd recovered, knowing Dad was in good hands, I ran to fling on some clothes so I could accompany Dad in the ambulance and a while later three more paramedics arrived.

They'd have to get Dad onto a back board to move him onto the ambulance bed, so they split the backboard in two, sliding them in a half at a time. As they joined the two halves were joined together Dad started shouting "Ow! Ow! Ow!"
I start to worry that his hip, pelvis, legs, something is broken.
"Where does it hurt?" they ask him.
"You've trapped my bloody foot!" replies Dad
We all chuckle.
A paramedic leans over to free Dad's foot and as he does so his radio falls from his pocket onto Dad's leg.
His foot free the paramedic asks if it feels okay.
"Well it felt fine until some bugger dropped stuff on it!" Dad exclaims.
More chuckles.

We're loaded into the ambulance after a debate about which hospital is best and start to head over to Shrewsbury.  It's a 50 minute drive, which we make with blue lights flashing and occasional siren.  Even so, we are overtaken by a car! I wished bad things on that person let me tell you and the driving paramedic half-shouted "pillock!"

After arriving at the hospital, I wait in the relatives room for so long, hours roll by, Dad is being treated and x-rayed. When I eventually see him, he's so relieved, confused about where he is and what's happening.  
Eventually he gets settled, and many hours Mum & Tim come to pick me up & take me back to the cottage.
Where I see that Dad hit the wall so hard with his head that he punched a hole in the wall, knocking off the plaster in the adjacent room.

On Christmas Day he doesn't know who I am, isn't responding to pain stimuli and I become convinced that this is it. The end.
I'm thankfully wrong, but Dad does have multiple bleeds around his brain.
Weeks pass, I travel the miles between home and Shrewsbury, eventually at the end of January he's transferred to Stoke as it's become obvious that he needs surgery.  Some of his bleeds have resolved, some have worsened and need treatment.  A few days after that he's transferred to Lincoln, much nearer to home, making visiting a whole lot easier.

He continues to make progress but experiences confusion.  
Sometimes he says inadvertently hilarious things.  Which I really shouldn't have laughed at, but it was impossible not to.
My personal favourite: "I was pecked to death by birds last night" says Dad.
"You were?" I reply.
"Yes, it was horrible, I begged them to stop, but they told me they wouldn't, because I was too delicious".

Last Tuesday he was discharged to a care home, since arriving there he's made incredible progress, although he still has substantial memory loss, he is getting better at forming memories.  His short term memory is improved and in one week he'll be leaving the care home to go back to his bungalow.  It's extraordinary how far he's come from that initial horrific fall.
He and I are going to start April with a

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