Sunday, 18 July 2010

The One That Is Amazed. . .

Occasionally, something happens which gives you a renewed sense of faith in humanity. Sometimes people do things that show you despite all the misery, intolerance and interference that the human race specialise in, there is also evidence that we are the most amazing, determined and quite brilliant animals out there.

What am I blithering on about?

I have a friend, the same age as me, and about three years ago her mother suffered a very serious stroke. Just to show the Righteous how wrong they can be, she was a non-smoking, almost teetotal woman of 51 who cycled 4 miles a day in her journey to and from work. She was the very epitome of the health nazi's model citizen. Fit as a fiddle. It just goes to show you that when life decides to pitch you a curve ball, there's bugger all you can do about it.

The result of this stroke was that she was immobile, with significantly reduced vision and looking at spending the rest of her life in a care home. She could still communicate, perfectly capable of speech, but was easily confused, tired and without much hope of having even a fraction of the life she had before the event.

After what can only have been a very hard conversation with her kids, she decided to sign the no resus chit in the event of a repeat performance.

On Wednesday morning I received a phone call from my friend who was beside herself. It transpired that her mother had suffered another stroke. She'd been rushed the short distance from her care home to the hospital but there was nothing that could be done. She was breathing for herself, but that was it. Her kidneys had failed, there was absolutely no response to any stimulii or tests and the opinion of the quacks was that given the gap in time between the stroke occuring and her being discovered that the brain was effectively dead and it was just a matter of hours until the other systems shut down.

Because of the no-resus chit, no mechanical or medical assistance was afforded to my friend's mother beyond some suction to remove the fluid from her airways (nasal and oral discharge had turned from clear to dark red, a sure sign of the fat lady filling her lungs before bursting into song) so her death wasn't caused by choking/drowning.

The whole family rushed to the bedside, a good deal from hundreds of miles away, to say their goodbyes, and had returned home on Friday evening, secure in the knowledge that the embrace of death was a formality.

At 3am on Saturday, some three days since the stroke and without even a saline drip, my friend's mother woke up. Although incapable of speech, she could focus on people in the room, squeeze hands and nod or shake her head in response to questions.

At 5pm on Saturday, with my friend's uncle in the room (having hot-footed it back from up-country with the rest of the clan), my friend's mother stared at her brother and proclaimed 'I'm baaaaack! Now go and get me a pint of bloody Stella.'

This woman was written off, had been left to expire with no assistance, at her own request, in a hospital bed with no fluids for at least three days. The family members had said goodbye, her room at the care home had been surrendered. This was, dear reader, curtains.

What point am I making? Well, none really. Beyond that fact is stranger than fiction, if you were to write it as a novel/stage or screenplay it would be spurned for being too fantastical. One further point, never, ever underestimate the human capacity for survival and to prove people wrong. I am not a religious man, but events like this can only be described in terms of miracle.

She'll never run the London Marathon, but this determination to live and also not to do as one is told is a lesson for us all. Isn't it also just like a bloody woman to ask for one thing, and then to go and do the exact bloody opposite?

OK one final point, we pay through the nose for our NHS. The nursing staff at the hospital have been magnificent, but, it was fully eight hours between the woman in question waking up and her seeing a doctor. There were simply none on site, in a large hospital on a Saturday morning.

There is no way she can get an assessment of the damage and a prognosis until Monday, because no-one with more than a nursing qualification seems to work on a Sunday. In a fucking hospital.

Don't worry though, there was a pencil neck wankstain with a clipboard on duty who came out to berate the greiving relatives (this was before the Lazarusesque awakening) for smoking in the open air, fifteen metres away from the nearest person, who tried to take personal details in preparation for prosecution for an offence which doesn't exist, (vis. smoking in a hospital grounds, or one suspects, in a position where a hospital can be seen, even if you have to use binoculars) and over which he would have no powers of prosecution. They gave him the option of collecting the details, or leaving with his teeth. He chose the latter.

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