Yesterday started badly as I received a text from my Direct Payment worker – who is a dear friend and Joshua’s adopted Yorkshire Grandma – to tell me that she had spent the night in hospital as her husband had suffered a heart attack and he was critically ill. It was a shock and I called her up at 5am to find out more details as to how they both were and to offer my support and love. That unexpected news shaped the rest of my day as, for once, I was carrying my mobile phone around awaiting news from hospital and not news from school.
Having spent too much time in various hospitals with Joshua, I can empathize with what she might be feeling – as I went to bed last night I thought that she would feel as though she had been in there forever, as time plays tricks with your mind, even though it had been 24 hours. She had been told overnight on arrival from A&E that she should stay around as he was critical and might not survive the night, but thankfully by yesterday he was stable enough that she could go home to shower and take her own medication and get something to eat. As the carer, it is vital that you also take care of yourself as you need your strength for the ordeals that you may have to face. I am always amazed how quickly I became bored of sandwiches for both my lunch and tea, and when we were at Great Ormond Street with Joshua last year, my husband became adept at finding interesting alternative vegetarian options to an egg or cheese sandwich.
While caring for a loved one in hospital, you have a responsibility to be alert and to ask questions constantly so that you are abreast with the patient’s condition, so although you need to get out for fresh air, you do not want to miss any opportunities to catch a doctor. Other than ward rounds, you do not tend to know when the Doctor might appear so I found myself on tenterhooks all of the time and I rarely left the ward , ‘just in case’. It helps if you have another family member with you so that you have company and you can nip out and not risk missing anything vital.
I have sent her texts offering practical help, virtual hugs and craving additional news, but I have tried not to send too many. I know also from my own experience, that while it is kind of people to send messages of love and support, it can be a burden giving constant updates, especially when there is nothing new to report. She has been told that now he is stable, it could be days before he is strong and well enough to receive the bypass operation that he needs. So I am now just sending messages so she knows that she is in my thoughts but do not demand a response.
These events reminded me how fragile life and health is; she was at our home on Tuesday night caring for Joshua, oblivious to the chest pains that her husband was experiencing at home.It is a true sentiment , that we should live each day as though it was our last so that we have no regrets should something unexpected, like this, happen.