It’s been a year since one of the most horrible nights of my life. This post could be triggering for some people, it’s a sad one and it has some stories of hospitals and death so if that’s going to upset you (I’m sorry-I needed to get this onto paper) please stop reading now. I’m a little worried that no one will read this-and it’s something that’s important to me, so I hope people do. Writing this has been tricky, very emotional-like a therapy session, really. And I don’t think I’ve really said what I wanted to, but I just needed to say SOMETHING, if that makes any sense.
A year ago last night, I’d been out for tea with some of the girls from the school I was working at. We’d had a lovely carvery and a giggle, and I drove home about 6. I got back to my parents’ house, walked in and Mum was crying. Which isn’t usual. I immediately knew something had happened.
My Grandad had been taken into hospital with a really bad headache, which had caused him to collapse. The ambulance arrived and the paramedics injected him with something, to make him sleep I think. I don’t really know, it’s still a bit of a blur. Mum and I rushed over to be with my Grandma and when we arrived we were told he’d had a bleed on the brain, and the doctors at our local hospital were waiting for surgeons at a different hospital to look at his scans and decide if they could operate. The surgeons were in surgery so we would have a bit of a wait-obviously, this was fine with us as we appreciated that they were most likely saving someone else’s life at this point.
Unfortunately for us, when the surgeons came back to us, they were unable to operate. We knew then that my Grandad (Mick, as I called him, rather than Grandad) was going to die. We were asked to consider donating his organs and we had a long wait for the organ donation coordinator to arrive (again, not a problem-this is very much not a complaining post!) We’d called all of his family to the hospital and sat down together in the relatives room to discuss donation. We decided that as he was very opinionated, and very vocal about things he didn’t agree with, the fact he’d never mentioned organ donation must mean he had no objection to it. And to be honest, he was going to die anyway, so what difference did it make to us? None, but it may make a huge difference to someone else.
We were told that even though we had said yes to organ donation, he may not be able to donate anyway. It would depend (and this is something I never knew) on how quickly he died. The hospital would remove the machine breathing for him, and wait until he stopped breathing for himself. This could be instant, or it could be ages. Knowing him, we’d prepared ourselves for the fact it would be days or weeks, and so his organs wouldn’t be used. Once we’d done all the organ donation paperwork, and Mick was being moved from resus in A & E to the intensive care unit, we went home to try to get some sleep, planning to return in the morning.
My Mum and my Grandma went back to the hospital in the morning. When they arrived they were told the hospital had done further tests during the night, and Mick was now braindead. This meant that as soon as they removed the machine, he would be dead. Because of this, they were going to take him to theatre still on the machine, take the organs we’d agreed to (all of them, including his eyes and skin, we very much wanted to help whoever we could help) and then remove the tube. There would be someone with him, talking to him, as he ‘died’ (the fact is he was already dead, anyway) Mum and Gran were able to say their goodbyes to him before he went to theatre. I hadn’t gone to the hospital as I was convinced it would be days, and no one let me know otherwise. So I went away for the night with my boyfriend as I’d planned. And I feel so guilty that I never said goodbye. I wish I’d been told the state of play. I would’ve cancelled.
Mick died on Saturday 28th March 2015. His liver was taken and successfully transplanted into a man, who as far as I know is still doing well. Thanks to Mick, this man has had another year, and hopefully many more, with his loved ones. I am so proud to say that.
During the evening at the hospital, we were shown just how amazing our NHS really is. Mick’s nurse was so very kind to us. The two paramedics who brought Mick in (and wouldn’t let my Grandma travel in the back of the ambulance, they sat her in the front) came in to check how he was. They must have known, but they still came to see us. That’s so incredibly kind of them.
Mick was someone who liked to argue, who always had to be right. It could be draining visiting him and so I didn’t very often. I can’t remember now the last time I saw him, what we talked about-I hate not remembering that. Thing is he was a pain in the arse but he was OUR pain in the arse.
Mick, I miss you. We all miss you. How has it been a year?