Let me tell you about the most heart-rending half hour or so of my life thus far. It happened yesterday evening, during mine and my sister’s second visit to the Intensive Critical Care Unit at the King’s Mill Hospital in Mansfield. I honestly think it beats – and by quite a substantial margin – the time when my mum and I went to visit my dad in Cherry Knowle’s nuthouse in Sunderland after he was sectioned for trying to kill himself in 1988. On that occasion, my dad didn’t know who I was. He called me Pybus. Then he went into the lavatory by his bed and we heard a slow, heavy thud coming from inside. When one of the orderlies opened the door to see what was happening, we saw my dad leaning against the reinforced glass of the window, banging his forehead repeatedly. That was tough.
Yesterday was worse.
My mum opened her eyes and saw our faces and heard our voices. She tried to move, but her body was so full of drugs and tubes that she was not able. She tried to speak but her throat was full of ventilator tube and her chin was strapped tight, so that she couldn’t even move her mouth. The only way she was able to communicate was through the furrows that appeared in her brow and the tears that began to creep out of the corners of her eyes.
I had to get away from her bedside for a while as I didn’t want her to see or hear me crying, as I’m sure that would have made it harder for her. One of the nurses happened to be close by. She asked me if I was OK. That made it harder for me.
A neighbour of my mum’s rings my sister every day for an update. Today she asked my sister how I was coping. ‘Not very well,’ my sister said, after seeing me fall apart a bit tonight. She’s right. In a way I’m not. But in a way I think I am. Because out of the horror I’m growing more positive. She’s going to be OK. Perhaps oddly, I believe it more today than I did before things went wrong. And I’m helping. Being positive helps. Tomorrow she’ll be off the ventilator. In a couple of years or so, I’ll give a granddaughter.
Keep hope alive.