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Archive for the ‘death’ Category

 

It’s Friday afternoon and I’ve just come out of hospital since Tuesday morning, after having had first round of chemo. There wasn’t a bed available for Monday so I had to wait another day. Unlike the last time I was booked in a few weeks ago, when delays occurred I freaked out, and decided to postpone chemo treatment for the time being as I saw it as a bad omen! This time I stayed calm and recognised that this would probably be a constant factor in receiving treatment, so I shouldn’t worry about it when delays occur.

Unsurprisingly I was pretty anxious when I got to the unit at Southend Hospital – fight or flight response in action, as I was walking into totally unknown territory once more. But the staff seemed to have their set protocols firmly in place, where everyone knew what they should be doing – except me of course – meaning I was seen by the ward doctor after a couple of hours, after which they made the chemo up for later in the afternoon.

There were many bags of fluids to be pumped into my body which totalled nearly sixty hours, and thank goodness I never had any physical complications during this first infusion. However, mentally and emotionally things started to happen, where thoughts I’d kept in my mind, and emotions I didn’t want to feel, now wanted to make themselves known.

I’d met a few people in the unit, and as they were further along in their condition and treatment than me, most of the women had lost their hair and looked pale, some quite poorly. But they each spoke about their journey and gave me their thoughts on chemo.  Unlike myself, who questioned the efficacy of chemo, they had just accepted the treatment with hope…and it seemed they were gaining benefits from it…!

After having read so many times that…’chemo kills more people than cancer’, I sort of understand now what that means. As once that poison has entered the body no-one really knows what is going to happen, and it can be kill or cure, as we already know! Before and during treatment I was told about the precautions I must take regarding infection control, where if the temperature goes below 36 or above 37.4 for more than two hours I must immediately seek help from A & E, with the task of getting to the hospital and being on intravenous antibiotics within the hour…! Really…!

They said time is of the essence because of the lack of immunity meant the high risk of sepsis, so I must monitor myself carefully in case I feel unwell, be vigilant, and stay away from people or places which might be infectious. That’s going to be quite hard at this time of year when the colds and flu start to pop up for their annual feasting. The doctors and nurses said that infections were one of the major complications of chemotherapy treatment, so not to worry about it…mmm, but just be alert.

I just hope I don’t get too obsessive about all of this and end up being a hermit…I need the fresh air, like we all do.  It helps me feel better.

After I’d had the first couple of infusions I went to the loo, and caught sight of myself in the mirror. I stopped and looked at my face, my hair, and wondered what I’d be looking and feeling like in a few weeks time. The other patients I’d spoken to had started from my position and I guess that is when the impact hit, where now there was no turning back and I had to face the consequences of whatever.  It was painful to my heart, as it brought me once again back into the cancer reality of illness and terminality, and the realisation that whilst I’d been able to sort of plod along feeling not too bad over the last few months, now I would be losing my hair, feeling sick, weak, unwell…ugh!

Now back at home I feel okay, just a bit tired and apprehensive as to what will happen next and I’ve got a muggy head which is irritating. After having something to eat and a short nap, I mentally scanned myself a little while ago to find my poor body screaming inside…it is being poisoned, it is being killed off...it doesn’t recognise that it is receiving treatment that could help it survive…it thinks it is being murdered! I thought about prisoners on death row who received lethal injections..!

Although I was really glad to be coming home, my thoughts jumped to the new routine my life would take for however long, and I felt a bit down. My second chemo session is in just ten days time, along with blood tests and oncology appointments next week. Would hospital now become my second home?

I’m not complaining really, I know I’m one of the lucky ones who at least has the chance of prolonged life. Unlike the terminally ill man I spoke to at bedtime late last night in the TV room, who sadly told me that ‘every day he’s awake is another day he is alive’. He didn’t want to go to bed, he didn’t want to die!

So…I’ve got more mental and emotional processing to do as the poison in my body starts to do it’s job, and I have to try and stay positive, active and normal (if there is still such a state), for as long as possible. I’m told the sickness and tiredness could start a couple of days from now, then of course, on the other hand, I may get no side effects at all. Fingers crossed it is the latter!

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Last December my sister got knocked down by a mini-cab, as she was crossing the road on a zebra crossing.  The speed limit in that area was 20 mph, which if the driver had adhered to, may have enabled him to stop before impact. As it happened, she was knocked high into the air, across several feet, and sustained serious injuries, which although not life threatening meant she spent four weeks in hospital, and five months unable to walk.  She’s had to attend numerous hospital appointments, had to give up her full-time employment, and is in constant pain and thus physically limited, as a result of the many fractures she sustained that day.  A day that changed her forever!

The foreign driver pleaded ‘not guilty’ at the plea hearing, so there is a CPS court case in December to establish whether a crime (driving without due care and attention) was committed or not, before my sister then has to take out her own private prosecution to sue the driver for damages, for the injuries that have impaired her future and compromised her mental, emotional and physical long-term health prospects.  As this legal case is ongoing, I shall not comment further!

However, as you can see, the accident was more than a moment in time…as it will negatively affect her in some way, for the rest of her life!

Since my sister’s accident I’ve been shocked to hear of so many other instances of pedestrians being knocked down on zebra crossings.  But this week I’ve heard of three, which has compelled me to write this article today, in order to bring some awareness to everyone, that using a pedestrian crossing is NO LONGER a safe way to cross the road.

One of the cases I heard about this week involved a four year-old child, who was crossing the road with his mother, but instead of walking across with her, decided to run ahead.  He was hit by an oncoming car on the opposite side of the road, even though they were both already on the crossing! Another instance this week involved a 72 year-old lady, halfway across the zebra crossing, when a speeding car hit her but did not stop.  Witnesses describe how she was catapulted into the air by the impact.  Regardless of her injuries, her life will never be the same again because of the actions of a careless (???) driver! Although not witness to the accident, I passed by as the paramedics were working on her.  I felt fury rise inside, at this unnecessary suffering.  Why, when she was crossing at an allocated safety point, was she hit by a car…?

Like most others, as a child I was taught to cross the road at a zebra crossing.  We stand, wait for cars on our side to stop (as then cars on other side must stop), then we confidently cross to other side. ‘It is safe’…we were told!  But things have changed, and if we want to stay safe we need to acknowledge that using any form of pedestrian crossing means…we are at risk as soon as we step off the pavement!

There is more traffic, speeds are faster,  there are more distractions for the driver…which shouldn’t mean that pedestrians are more at risk…but it does!  Because whilst there are many conscientious drivers who do their utmost to stay safe, there are also inexperienced drivers, drugged and drunk drivers, drivers who have been banned for one reason or another – but still drive, drivers who still use their mobile phones whilst driving, drivers who think they own the road. Foreign drivers who don’t understand UK rules of the road.  Drivers who are just not paying attention to what they are doing…the list goes on…and on!

I’ve tried to find the statistics for zebra crossing accidents.  Here are just a couple to emphasis my point…

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reported-road-casualties-great-britain-annual-report-2013   This states that in 2013 there were nearly 3,500 accidents on various types of pedestrian crossings!

https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/FEET%20FIRST%20PEDESTRIAN%20REPORT%200104%20FINAL.pdf  This London Transport Committee report states that 25% of all pedestrian accidents occurred on zebra crossings!

http://londonist.com/2013/11/wont-somebody-think-of-the-pedestrians.php  There’s also this article in the Londonist, which talks about how cyclists are protected more than pedestrians.

So, it seems that whilst there are facilities to enable pedestrians to cross the road safely, can we really trust that pedestrian crossings are safe, and that we’ll reach the other side of the road unharmed?

Well I don’t know about you, but evidence to the contrary means I no longer believe that pedestrian crossings, especially zebra crossings, are safe!  Are they fit for purpose?  They are, but only if pedestrians and drivers follow the basic safety rules, which are contained within the links below..

The Department of Transport sets out Rules for pedestrians here…https://www.gov.uk/rules-pedestrians-1-to-35/crossings-18-to-30

This link is for drivers regarding pedestrian crossings…https://www.gov.uk/using-the-road-159-to-203/pedestrian-crossings-191-to-199

As a pedestrian we cannot control drivers, so when using pedestrian crossings we must ensure it is safe to do so.  Basically, this means we can’t automatically assume that when we step onto the crossing the oncoming cars will stop, so we have to be vigilant and follow these three simple rules…

1)  Do not step into the road until traffic both ways has stopped!

2)  Whilst crossing, we must pay attention and watch both ways for           oncoming cars that may not stop, in order that we can avoid them if necessary!

3)  This means we, as pedestrians, concentrate on what we are doing, which is keeping ourselves safe, thus no distractions, such as mobile phones/texting whilst we cross.

We all know that accidents happen, people walk out in front of traffic, kids run out into the road.  But I believe that if greater attention was given to re-educating people about pedestrian crossings, there may be fewer casualties.

Which is why I’m writing this blog!  As what I’m asking is that everyone who reads this article shares it’s content and tells friends and loved ones about how these simple safety rules could save their life.  Just make them aware that they can’t automatically assume that they are safe when using pedestrian crossings, that they have to be vigilant all the time, that they must keep themselves safe…because pedestrians cannot control or predict what drivers will do!

We know what they should do…but cars do not have to stop at a zebra crossing unless someone is on it.  And whilst there are some people who choose to not wait, and walk straight onto the crossing, forcing the cars to stop, it has to be remembered that car bodies can be repaired a lot easier than our human body!

Therefore, if we want to prevent accidents from happening, we must re-educate ourselves and our children about how to safely use pedestrian crossings! We must make it an issue so that people become aware of the dangers. Tell your children that cars don’t always stop, ask their schools to provide better information that will make the children more road wary, remind your elderly parents to be extra vigilant on crossings, because the rules have changed!

But above all, please make them understand that using a pedestrian crossing doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe to cross the road at that moment in time!

We cannot wait for new harsher penalties to be imposed upon dangerous drivers, in order to make them more careful and our crossings safer.  So in order to avoid being another accident statistic, pedestrians have to look out for themselves and follow the Green Cross Code, which many of us did learn in the past, but have forgotten.  So to refresh your memory, here it is again…

http://think.direct.gov.uk/education/early-years-and-primary/parents/7-to-11s/the-green-cross-code/

I’ve learned from experience how the devastating effects of a road traffic accident can cause so many problems and ruin so many lives.  I like to think that many of these accidents could be avoided, by promoting awareness of the three simple rules mentioned above.

Please share…it could save someone’s life!

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My mother’s partner of thirty-six years, passed away on the 12th February 2014 in intensive care.  He was 78 years old.

This experience was so very painful for myself and my family, so I don’t know why I feel the need to include this brief account of the situation on my blog.  But I do, so I will…maybe it will help someone, in some way, somehow…!

Thursday... Tonight I visited my mum’s partner Ron, in Intensive Care.  Ron is 78 years old and has got pneumonia.  After a week in hospital he is now on life support.  I don’t feel alarmed seeing all the life saving equipment attached to him, as I’ve seen him in the same scenario – but for different reasons, at least three times before, after he fell and broke his neck in October 2011.

I remember then, how the family sat by his bedside for hours, days, weeks, not knowing if he would survive or not, grieving for what had been…and for the lost future we might have shared together.  We were told many times he would not survive his injuries…but he did, even though he spent over a year in hospital and there were many serious glitches along the way.

But this time it’s different…!  They, the all-knowing doctors, have already tried removing him from the oxygen this morning.  But he couldn’t manage to breathe alone.  So whilst they’ve now re-connected him, doctors have told us there is nothing more they can do for him, as he cannot breathe unaided….so tomorrow morning they are going to disconnect his air supply…and let nature take it’s course!

So it appears, at this stage, that this time there will be no reprieve – Ron is going to die…!

It’s been a very long week for the family, and I feel tired and weary as I sit by his bed, watching his face closely for signs of distress.  I look around and see other patients wired up, young and old.  This is such a sad, worrying unit – but the staff are dedicated to saving lives wherever they can…no one can fault their dedication or expertise. However, there are times when people will die….regardless!  I wonder how it will happen with Ron…will it be quick, slow, will he suffer, will he know, will it happen even?  Maybe this is not real, maybe he is strong enough to fight his way through this…after all he’s done it before – more than once!  Whose to say he can’t do it again eh?

As I wonder why life was as it was for Ron, with the terrible consequences of his alcoholic past, I wonder what life in general is actually about.  ‘What is all of this pain, turmoil and drama for?’ I ask the invisible force of the Universe!  Gurus say we create our own reality by the things we do, say and think – which I partially agree with and accept.  We have to take responsibility for ourselves – it’s one of our biggest lessons to learn.  But when one crisis occurs after another, then another, I wonder what in the world is drawing those things to us, questioning whether I will ever really know the answer.

I look at Ron, as he looks at me, and wonder what he is thinking!  Does he realise how ill he is?  Does he know he’s going to die?  Is he worrying and can’t express it because of the tube in his throat?  Does he feel sad, does he feel anything at all – or are the chemicals being pumped into him numbing not only his body, but also his mind?  I hope it’s the latter!  I don’t want him to feel, to hurt, to be afraid…I want him to be numb, calm – in oblivion you might say…because then he won’t be so scared of the…what next!

As I sit by his bed my heart aches for him, for his life, for his soul on it’s next stage of development.  I pray to God that Ron has been redeemed of his ancient past, that he has fulfilled the criteria for healing and growth demanded of his soul.  I pray that next time Ron is born, his life will be one of happiness and joy, filled with love.

My mind jumps to funeral arrangements, and sorting out of business – but I don’t want to think of that yet.  In my mind’s eye I send Ron healing.  My light-self attends to him and clears his lungs of the congestion that is choking him.  I watch as the lungs which were filled with black, turn to white, and release the negativity from my energy.

‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a miracle happened’ I think to myself…’where he can breathe unaided tomorrow.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the healing that occurred in my mind, actually manifested that miracle…!’.  But hey, we’ve got to be realistic now haven’t we…the doctors said….!

Then, whilst I’m thinking about Ron’s life, I suddenly find myself thinking about mine…the regrets, the failures, the things I should’ve done but didn’t.  No different from Ron really!!  I’m scared I’ll die feeling these things – I fear I will never be able to change them or create a happy life.  A life without turmoil, drama, crisis – but I don’t think a peaceful life like that is possible anymore!  May be that’s the trouble eh!

Friday…The tubes are still in place…the doctor puts his face close up to Ron’s whilst speaking to him…’You know when we remove the tube you may not be able to breathe don’t you?’ Ron nodded.  ‘You don’t want us to put the tube back do you Ron…and you don’t want us to do a tracheotomy do you?’.  Ron’s eyes looked confused…I don’t think he knew what he was supposed to say…so he just shook his head and agreed with the doctor.  He’d lived with a tracheotomy for many weeks after his accident – he hated it, so I knew he wouldn’t want to go through that again.

However, I felt the doctor was coercing Ron to agree to something he didn’t know was going to happen, so said sharply to the doctor…’I don’t think he understands what you are trying to tell him!’.  The doctor was telling Ron that he was probably going to die, and wanted Ron to agree to ‘No Intervention’ that was already written on his file – a statement that worried me…did it mean they would do nothing to save him?

So the doctor repeated himself to Ron, who once again agreed with him.  Then, surprising us all because we were preparing ourselves for the ‘finale’, the doctor said the tube would remain in for today…they would remove it tomorrow!

After this we sat and tried to cheer Ron up. Funny eh!  We knew he was probably going to die soon – but he didn’t.  He just wanted to get out of hospital.  So we made the small talk that you do in these situations, putting on a brave face, whilst fear, panic and sorrow was squeezing our hearts and minds.

Saturday and Sunday followed, but the tube remained in.  Ron was coping very well with his situation.  He was awake most of the time.  We all felt like we were living on a knife edge…wondering how ‘it’ would happen, waiting for the dreaded phone call…!

Monday…I spoke to the doctors.  I felt angry they kept telling us they would remove the tube, but then left it in.  No one wanted Ron to die…!  I told them I felt like I’d brought my dog to the vet to have him put down.  I wanted to know why they’d put ‘No intervention’ on his file.  I told him how worried I was that they would not help him as much as they could because of lack of funding, his age, low priority etc.  The doctor explained that Ron’s lungs were severely injured by his previous accident.  Now the pneumonia had been dealt with, but his lungs had been further damaged…meaning he would be unlikely to be able to breathe on his own, once the tube was removed.

The doctor assured me Ron had already received the best possible care, and would continue to do so whilst there, but in his condition his only option was to remain on life support…which really wasn’t an option was it, or die!  He also said the tube would be removed on Tuesday morning.  I said…’All I’m asking is that you give him the best possible chance to survive’.

It’s a strange experience, waiting for someone you love to die!  You know the reality, but still, hope rises that a miracle will happen, the doctors will be wrong.  That tomorrow the sun will shine and you will feel good about the day, because you know your loved ones are all okay!

It was difficult trying to remain cheerful whilst we sat with Ron!  Death was never mentioned…I wondered if he knew…!

Tuesday...I arrived early at the hospital, with dread in every part of my being.  What would it be like when the tube came out?  Would he realise what was happening, would he be afraid, would he suffer?  I couldn’t let myself feel how I was feeling…I knew I needed as much strength as I could muster, in order to support Ron at this stage.  I wondered how he felt…I am usually able to deal with most situations, but I didn’t feel able to ask Ron ‘How do you feel Ron, now that you’re going to die?’.  All I could say to console him was ‘You’ll feel better once that tube is out won’t you?’.  Ron agreed!

I waited outside in the corridor whilst the tube was removed.  The doctor assured me Ron would not be allowed to suffer.  Ten minutes later the nurses came to get me.  They were smiling.  ‘It’s okay, you can come back in now.  He’s fine and breathing on his own!’.

I almost ran back into the unit…there he was, dear old Ron, sitting up in bed with a huge, beaming smile lighting up his face.  He was laughing and joking as I gave him a hug, saying ‘Thank goodness that is out and you’re breathing okay’.  I sat with him for an hour or so before I called to arrange for my mum to come to the hospital.  She was so upset by the situation and as she’s disabled felt powerless to help him in any way.  She didn’t want to watch him die! But I felt she needed to see him now, looking so well and feeling so happy.

We stayed with him for a few hours…he was chatty and looking forward to the future.   He told us of his plans for when he got out of hospital, when he would leave the nursing home where he’d been staying for the last year or so.  This was an amazingly poignant experience for us all!  Was he going to live…or die?  Were the doctors right or wrong?  Had we got the miracle we’d prayed for?  I didn’t realise at that time that the high dose of morphine was responsible for his miracle cure…!  I just hoped and prayed for the impossible!

Wednesday...It was about 3 am when I got the call from the hospital. By the time we arrived Ron had quietly passed away!  It’s hard to describe feelings at this time, as there are so many emotions happening all at once.  Disappointment that this had to be the option, sadness at losing a big part of our lives, fear at what might happen to us and our other loved ones in the future.  Regret at what had to be, and especially for the dreams that Ron did not fulfill!

It’s been a month now since Ron passed.  All formalities have been attended to, so now it’s just a matter of getting on with our life, without him in it.  Grief is different for every loss…with varying levels of intensity of pain.  It helps sometimes, to have a thought that consoles us.  I guess what helps our pain is being able to recall him being so happy on Tuesday.  He had a really lovely day, with his loved ones around him, making plans, feeling optimistic.  I like to think that he went to sleep that night feeling happy.  And that when it was time for his soul to return home in the early hours of the next morning, he was feeling peace in his human heart and mind.

For us that are left we have to find a way to feel our own peace…life is so precious, we must ensure we make full use of the positive opportunities we have presented to us, whatever they are!  Ron had so many regrets, so do I! What about you though?

I wonder whether I will be able to resolve some of my things still to do, and if I will still have the time and energy to complete my tasks…?  I like to think I do, but so much time has passed already…so I don’t know!  However, what I do know now, is that moments of happiness can be found within the most distressing situations.  And that maybe it will be the memories of those short moments, that help us cope with our own uncertain future!

Rest in Peace Ron…we will all miss you!

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