I received a Whatsapp from my aunt informing me that my dad was admitted into hospital. She said that he is conscious and in stable condition, but no other info.
I answered and the first thing I told her was to not give me any bad news, especially a death message via text. Please.
She and her husband found my dad in his flat on the floor. He was conscious, but struggling to breathe and not able to respond or talk. He was lying on his stomach which saved him from suffocating, because he had vomited.
On the 11th of November I flew over. When I arrived in hospital, he was already in a coma.
The doctors only knew at this point that his sugar levels were too high. Nothing else.
For three weeks I stood by his side, extended my holiday, while they tried to get him out of the coma again. After three weeks he finally woke up. I was there when he woke up. I was there when he spoke again. I was there when they put him in a chair.
Only when he was awake again was it possible for the computer scan to properly read the brain cells, as the scan cannot read well when the brain is “shut down” sleeping. Only while awake could it be seen that he had a stroke. He survived for approx. 1 to 2 days in his flat. We only estimated from the time a neighbour saw him last on a Wednesday afternoon and to the time he was found on late Friday morning. He was only found because he didn’t turn up to the weekly lunch with my aunt on Thursdays 1pm. He didn’t pick up his phone when they called and just thought he forgot and is out and about as he was really active, visiting people and places with the train. He must have at least laid on his floor 21-24 hours minimum.
It was devastating to see his corrosive wounds in hospital, where parts on his body, the skin was black from the acid body fluids. His ring and small finger on his right hand was almost completely black like a coal in a fire, as his stomach was laying on his right hand when he landed on the floor, stopping oxygen to get through to his arm and hand. I worried if it would need to be amputated and was about to beg the doctors to please not haste with any decision. But the doctors calmed my hysteria and said, “Let’s see first how it heals”. I always thought that doctors are quick to cut and snip snap chop away anything that seems to be irreversibly “kaputt”. And indeed, fortunately after a few months it mostly healed and only fainted shades on the skin were visible. His small finger was the last visible wound in the end that only needed a tiny plaster on the fingertip. It is amazing how the human body is capable to heal with time.
But It was the first time ever that my father was in hospital. He never had to be operated on or needed to be in hospital. Just the usual GP visits. A very strong person. I expected him to throw fits, as he was so independent all of his life and had a very strong will and opinions. But to my surprise I saw a side of him I never knew existed. He cooperated in everything so unbelievably well unlike my mum, who was in hospital just 3 months before, having had a scary operation on the spine. I was already on a roll of flying back and forth between London and German hospitals and rehabs. My dad of course was complaining at times, but he also was joking around with the nurses and doctors. He surprised me. But it made the whole ordeal more bearable and I regained strength during really dark periods of downward fear and renewed anger, as I was in the process of losing my job in the midst of this nightmare.
I flew back and forth to work and in-between I lost my job as I got fired because of my mentally ill emailing. I was already informed while I was at my father’s bedside, that there is an ongoing investigation because my emailing increased, which I explain in another post why it increased. I received a disciplinary from a develop manager who supposedly lost her brother similarly to mine. She then entered into secret, solely electronic communication for which she disciplined me in the first place, making the disciplinary not valid. Pret tricked me again with this. But this crossed a line that lead me to speak openly now.
The HR department got me fired three days after Christmas and shortly after my father woke up from the coma. I used all the money they paid me out, to fly back and forth to look after my dad and his affairs as well as for a job back in London. It was like a repeat with my brother, but this time I had the chance to see my father alive. It was also a repeat from months before when my mum was in hospital. She had an OP in September a day after her birthday. I saw my dad only once then for lunch at my aunt’s house, because I spent every day in hospital and in rehab with my mum, and running errands for her. So, I was on a roll and here again I flew back and forth to be with him and run errands for him and also take care of some things for my mother. It was hard on her seeing me like this, and she didn’t know what to do. She was hard with me after her OP in September, she was so tough that I wanted to withdraw from her. I learned later that some people, especially when they are older, become rude and angry after a major operation.
My mother who is usually meek and helpful in her own way became angry, while my father who is usually strong willed and angry became softer after his stroke and coma. You just never know how people react after a major event in their lives with all the trauma and also the chemicals in the brain affecting their conduct. Makes me feel sorry for all the folk who had to deal with my trauma after my brother died and the bullying at work on top of it. It also makes me worry for any persons when I am of age in hospital or a care home. I’m trying to plan ahead to not give people a hard time. But this unfortunately cannot be predicted.
My father has died now, five days after I visited him last and four days after I last spoke with him on the phone from London. When I was back home I’d call him every day, at times he was in therapy, and other times I was able to speak with him and hear about his progress. I saw his progress, but it was a constant up and down. After rehab he was taken to a dementia ward closer to the town where he lived, so that relatives would be able to be with him more often. But 2 days after I left him to fly back to London for my job-search even though I felt incapable to work, they admitted him back into hospital as his health suddenly took a nose dive. Confused about this, because he seemed to make progress again, I immediately booked a flight after just having arrived home 2 days before. But I sensed it was important to be with him for at least one week.
I had everything booked, flights, a hotel room that was really cheap on the hospital grounds they have for family members who live far away. I managed to get a whole week after first being told that everything is booked out. But I persisted and contacted other administrators and any number I could find on their website in connection with booking a room. And suddenly I got a room for the whole week. I planned to be with him, but this time without driving back and forth between hospital and his flat to organize and bring him things. I also planned to not see my mum, as I wanted to be with my father 24/7 so-to-speak. But it was not meant to be. He decided almost 2 days before I’d arrive to call it a day. He knew when I was coming if he hasn’t forgotten it, because I asked the nurse to always greet him, letting him know that I called and have an eye on him. And this time I asked to please tell him that I will be there on Wednesday. But from Sunday to Monday night he might have thought that it wasn’t a good idea for me to see him like this any longer.
I never let my dad know that I was fired while he was in intensive care, and that I was bullied during grief after my brother died. I cheered him up. We laughed at times and he told me a lot about his life and his dad, his train collection and his work as a student. He could not tell me anything regarding recent years, but he remembered things from decades ago. And he remembered correctly, because I knew these stories from childhood on. But recent events were hard to recollect for him. A typical thing with dementia. He kept telling me about his VW Beagle “downstairs”. I never knew he had a Beagle, must have been from his student days. I asked him surprised, “You had a Beagle?” as I love Beagles and drove one from a friend when I lived in the U.S. for a while. He insisted that he needs to get the keys for his Beagle downstairs. I stopped correcting him and just entered into his world and said, that we first need to make sure that he gets back up on his feet, and then we’ll go and travel. He loved to travel by train. He nodded and agreed. And then the Beagle story was done for a while until next time when he talked about his Beagle again.
After he died and I had to clear out his flat and took with me the most precious items like papers, photos etc. I found one picture which must have been the car from his father, my grandfather. I was never able to find out whose Beagle this was. And I wish this photo could be turned into its original colour as my father spoke about his “green” Beagle. Unless he mixed it up with the later cars we had in our family, they were always from Opel, or as it is known in the UK as Vauxhall. I grew up with only 3 cars we had, always from Opel. The last two cars were both green.
After a minor accident to the right rear side, the repaired door still needed to be painted green.
As green happens to be my favourite colour, my father either just imagined his or his dad’s VW Beagle to have been green, or this choice of colour for a car really ran in the family with family cars all having been green. In hindsight, I never knew what my dad’s favourite colour was. I’ll make it a “mission” to ask my mum, and also what her favourite colour is and any little detail like that…
A week before he died he tried to walk again. He was at times so strangely lively, while at other times just nodding off all day. But physio therapy is hard work. I just entered into his world and adjusted to his version of happenings and agreed that I’ll keep an eye on his VW Beagle downstairs.
But his last week I was able to hold him up while he walked a few steps. He just suddenly had this urge to walk. He got up from his wheelchair in which he would drive himself around the ward. He would do something with his hands like he was holding something, but he could never explain what he was doing when I asked him what he is holding in his hands. One time when I asked him if he was holding a thread or cord, as it looked like he was organizing some shoe laces or a thread that gotten tangled up in knots. One time he answered that he was doing “Kleinkram” meaning “small stuff” or bits and pieces. Painfully perplexed at his delusional hand gestures, I noticed very quickly with the other dementia patients, that this seems a common thing that a person with dementia does. While my dad was still in rehab and I’d see him do this for the first time and I pointed it out to a nurse, who was equally perplexed, I got scared. But seeing this later with some of the other people with dementia, I quickly relaxed and just went along with it.
He just got up from his wheelchair holding himself up by the railing, with me supporting him to not fall over. He then gave me something, whatever imaginary item he was holding, he handed it to me to hold it for him as he tried to hold on with both hands to the railing. I just took this “thing” and said to him “Dad, I’m just gonna put this down on this chair here, so my hands are free to hold you up, so we can walk a little bit.” He said, “Ok”, and then we walked a few steps before he sat back into his wheelchair exhausted.
This time was the most traumatic and also most important time to be with him. To see him so weak and broken, and to speak with him, even though his dementia made it painful as well as funny sometimes, in-between the clear sentences. He had to laugh about his own words sometimes when he had clear moments and looked confused why he said something weird. But I was able to make my peace for difficult times when I grew up. I was able to say my silent goodbyes, while giving him whatever family he had left by his side. It was important. I was never able to say goodbye to my brother as the police just cremated him without finding us first. German efficiency, hey!
Some of the things my father would say, it was clear he felt he was near the end of his life, so I just spent a lot of time just letting him speak about the past as he couldn’t remember yesterday, but he remembered 50 years ago. At times he would gesture with his hand in front of his face, moving to the left and right and say, “I’ve become nuts.” And I’d say, “No dad, you had a stroke, you were in a coma and are receiving lots of medication. It is normal to be mixed up and forget things and in your age it is normal to be somewhat forgetful.” He seemed to relax and continued to talk about his youth. He had some dementia already before the stroke, but it really became worse after it.
So I wanted to spend more time with him when I booked everything after he was admitted again into hospital. I wanted to be there again, without leaving his side to run errands or visit my mum in another town. Maybe I sensed this would be my final visit.
I buried him close to my brother.
I still cannot work or function well after these three years.
I can only say that Pret A Manger is not a place to work for, I wasted 10 years of hard work and loyalty. They’ve hurt me. Pret is not concerned for their workforce. They are just interested in the money coming in, no matter about the cost in the health of their workforce. They don’t care if people are bereaved, ill or their family is in hospital. If they can get rid of any “inconvenient” employee, they will find a way.
The care that is in place is just to cover themselves. I was too loud, tried too hard and made too many mistakes. But I survived and aim to live to keep telling my story.
In memory of my father.