Last Sunday the phone woke me up with Nanna on the other end in a panic, saying that Grandad had taken ill and that a Doctor was there treating him. Mum and I raced to get across to Plymstock and as we were crossing Roborough Down another call came in to say Grandad had been taken to Derriford Hosipital in an ambulance. We diverted and were at the hospital when Nanna and Grandad arrived.
Grandad actually looked surprisingly alert and was surprised to see us, I remember his greeting to mum and I when he recognised us as the trolley whizzed past on the way to the observation ward . He had been making sandwiches and preparing to take Nanna out for the day when he suddenly keeled over and lost consciousness, but on the way to the hospital he’d come around and although confused, was sat up and seemed perkier than I was expecting.
Because Nanna was obviously in shock and very upset we were first taken to the Visitors’ Room while Grandad was initially assessed. It was horrible, Nanna kept blaming herself because she’d sworn at him, and she never swears. (It finally came out that she had petulantly said “..damn sandwiches”). I can’t really remember everything that was said in there that day, but it was horrid. Tears and anger and accusations flew out of Nanna, towards herself at first, and then later, when the Nurses had assured her that it wasn’t her fault, towards mum.
Eventually we were allowed to go in and see Grandad. I didn’t get to see too much of him as obviously Nanna and Mum went to talk to him and there were lots of people in the cubicle. I think he saw I was there though because he gave me a smile. He was complaining of a pain in his back and kept showing the Doctors and Nurses where it was by tracing the area on their backs. It was very relieving to see him responsive and the Hospital staff buzzing around him making sure everything was alright.
An x-ray needed to be taken of his chest so we were asked to go and stand back outside again, I went off to try to find some refreshments for Nanna and Mum while we waited. Not an easy task, first I found a drinks machine but didn’t have the correct change, then when I went into the main hospital I found a cafe but they wouldn’t serve me with takeaway (even though the person in front of me was clearly taking her drink away!) Gah. Finally managed to get some change and went back to Casualty. Wandered back into the observation unit en route looking for Mum and Nanna but just found Grandad surrounded by Doctors hard at work. Didn’t want to get in the way so slunk back off again and bumped into a Nurse who said not to worry, she’d sort out some drinks and pointed me back to the Visitor’s Room.
We were here waiting for some time, until finally a Surgeon came through to see us. The main artery that goes from the heart to the legs had swollen and was leaking and Grandad had to be operated on immediately. There was no further opportunity to see him as he had been whisked away to theatre as soon as they had decided to operate. 🙁
There was nothing left for us to do but to go back to Nanna’s and wait.
I fixed Nanna’s phones while we waited, half of the pre-sets had been wrong so whenever she had tried to use them they were dialling incorrectly. That morning the Doctor had also tried to call us from there and had ended up having to go use a neighbours phone.
Auntie Jenny drove across from Dorset and arrived at Nanna and Grandad’s in record time. She was there when the hospital rang around 4 or 5 hours later and we were informed that the procedure had been a success and we could go back to see him in Intensive Care in an hour.
Which we did. We weren’t really prepared to find Grandad quite so heavily sedated though, he was being forcibly kept unconscious and would apparently be kept in that state for at least a week. When I last saw him he had been cheerful and still Grandad, now he was lying there, all his life functions being performed for him. He looked very peaceful though, and nowhere near 82, he looked as though he had never left his 50s. Sat with Nanna while she held his hand for a while and left there hopeful.
Was in bed that night when Mum got a call to say that Grandad was not responding to treatment and that anyone who wanted to should go in now because they would be stopping the drugs and letting him slip away. Everyone hurriedly got up and piled into Plymouth. By this time Auntie Karen had been told and had travelled down from Leicester too.
Grandad didn’t look like Grandad any more. His body had been soaking up fluids and not passing them. Sat and held his hand beneath the bed covers and got very confused listening to the conversations going on between the Nurses. While we were there it seemed that Grandad had started to respond to treatment after all and that they would be continuing with the drugs. Felt awful leaving Grandad again that night, seemed terrible to leave him on his own in the hospital.
Despite our hopes and fingers crossed the next morning Mum had another call from the hospital, Grandad had deteriorated during the night. Mum and Dad went in for the final time. I couldn’t face going in again and decided to stay at home instead to look after Molly.
Grandad died about 11 o’clock in the morning of Monday 28th April.