The Worst Day Of My Life (PLEASE NOTE: Some readers may find distressing)

Wednesday August 20th, my hubby's 30th birthday. We were getting over a bug we'd had the day before when the house phone rang. Carson picked it up as I said to leave it and he ended up hanging up on the poor caller! 15 minutes later it rang again and it was my Dad. It had been him last time too, he just assumed I was busy.

Dad had had the dentist that morning. He thought it was an extraction of his last top tooth and getting his new falsies. OMG he hated his teeth (real or false - teeth just freaked him out!) He'd already been texting me whilst he'd been waiting to go in - admitting he was "brickin' it" and terrified he was going to come out looking like Duane Dibbley! (This was a truly devastating prospect for Dad, he thought he was Clooney, or Magnum - in that cringey Dad kinda way).

Anyway, he was calling to say it was just an imprint again today so there was no need to pop down to show me his new goofy look! He wished hubby happy birthday, asked if we were having any drinks that night to celebrate, told me he'd see me at the weekend (we had a bank holiday bbq planned) and ended the call saying he was staaaarving and off to have a bacon butty.

Hubby and I had nowt planned bar a special home cooked tea (if we could stomach it!) so I decide to blog a bit and let him chill out with full control of the remote control whilst Finley was sleeping and Carson was playing in his room.

So, I am happily going through my #BabyBabble linky and commenting away after already scheduling the next one to go live on the Thursday. I pop my laptop down on the floor, thighs burning from the heat of the fan, about to brew up before I continue on with the rest of my blog posts. I was sooo in the mood and had really made progress this day, writing 4 posts and drafting another 3 ready for the coming days.

Then my mobile rang. "Mum Calling". Weird. She was meant to be in work.

"I've had a call to say Dad's collapsed" ... I honestly thought she meant Grandad - her Dad, so I corrected her and she said "No. Dad". 

My heart skipped a beat for a second but I thought nah, it'll be heat exhaustion or something. He worked his arse off, my Dad did. Mum said she was on the way to the hospital as the Doctor said he'd prefer to tell her in person, don't rush up - he said - but just as soon as you can.  I wanted to say "that doesn't sound good" but it came out like a sob because this was truly weird. Dad was never ill. EVER! 

I finished the call and smoked 3 fags in 10 minutes. The longest 10 minutes of my life. Just waiting to hear back from Mum with the visiting times etc and to tell me what was wrong.

Well, I got that call and it was my brother, so I sighed a little for relief thinking Mum's with Dad so Chris is letting me know what's what. I answered and there was a brief period of silence. Then crying. My brother doesn't cry. "It's not good Jo, you need to get up here" I asked what he meant and he said that "the Doc has said to get the family in"

What in the fuck was going on? He was fine a couple of hours ago, just normal Dad. What could have happened that was so bad for them to make us think the worst? I still didn't believe that part by the way. I thought, in my heart of hearts, that they were preparing us for the worst 'just in case'. Didn't stop me crying like no one's business. 

Hubby ran round to his Mum's with the kids whilst I gave my friend our address for a lift to the hospital asap. Carson, being the sensitive little boy he is, asked me what was wrong. I genuinely didn't know what to say and I ended up actually being very straight with him: "Is there anything you'd like me to give or tell grandad? He's not very well and might die today". Harsh as it sounds, I think it was the best thing for him. 
He ran upstairs and came back down with a teddy bear "Tell him - Don't die Grandad, love Carson. PS. I will need my teddy back so bring him home with you. PPS I love you and don't worry"

I arrived at the hospital around 25 minutes after that. Greeted by my brother at A&E. I took one look at him and thought that maybe I should be believing the worst. 

Straight into a Family Liaison room the rest of my family had made it before me, I was the last to arrive. A lady came in and said "the man" .. err, you mean my Dad please... was ready if we wanted to go and see him before the Doctor speaks to us all and moves him. So we all went in to the little curtained cubicle that he was in. He was just snoring with a tube in his throat! I was worried there'd be visual damage because, don't forget, at this point I still had NO idea what was wrong or what had happened. Apart from a tube in his throat he was fine. There's no way he wasn't waking up, there was nothing bloody wrong with him!

Back to the Family Liaison room where a neurologist comes in. Bottom line is, Dad had suffered a catastrophic intracerebral haemorrhage (basically a massive stroke caused by bleeding inside your brain.) The neurologist had consulted 8, EIGHT, other neurologists at specialist hospitals and they all agreed that there was nothing that they could do. The damage had been done, it couldn't have been stopped never mind be recovered from. 

My amazing Dad, turned just 51 years old 8 days prior, fit as a butcher's dog, was to die within the next couple of hours.

He was transferred to ITU where Mum, my two sisters, brother and I were taken aside and had it all re-explained. Best to have the decision to turn his machine off than leave it too late and not have the decision at all. This still all felt very weird, it was sinking in but I was being rather logical about it and was all "OK, yes". Can't explain it any other way. I guess I was in shock, numb, going through the motions. 

Although he was comatose and we'll never definitely know if he knew we were with him, we all spoke, cuddled and kissed him. Both alone and grouped together. Let me tell you - I KNOW that he felt us there. Everytime any one of us touched his hand or kissed his face his ECG went from a steady 13 up to numbers like 69 and 88. A doctor advised that this was him trying to breathe for himself as the brain had received a trigger of sorts. This was us! Wow. I am so so happy I saw that with my own eyes. He knew. Consciously or not, his brain knew to react to our tender touch. 

A wonderful lady called Laura offered for us to take a lock of Dad's hair for ourselves or our own kids. Tied with ribbon, in a lovely organza bag, slipped inside a card in an envelope. Touching his hair and cutting a lock was, strangely, such a beautifully, calming, loving act. In a strange way, I'd never felt so close to him than doing that. 
Laura then said she would take handprints for us if we'd like and we were welcome to help too. We took his right hand print first because he had a unique hand to us - his brother had cut his little finger off as a dare when they were kids (we've all laughed at this story for years, they make out that they were cheeky little scamps but imagine if a child did that to asibling these days ha!). As we were about to take his left print, Dad was getting restless and vomited. It wasn't nice to see but Laura was un-phased and continued on with incredible professionalism and compassion. It didn't matter that she was getting covered! Immediately we all knew that Dad was fed up and wanted to be left alone now. He hated attention at the best of times so we were really pushing our luck now! 

The tubes were removed and we all congregated back in his room, awaiting his final breath. I remember it distinctly. It was 5 minutes in and 5 minutes before his heart finally stopped. His shoulders raised, his head slightly turned and the intake sounded a little panicky. But on breathing out, it was like a massive sigh of relief. I find this comforting. Like he was calm, at peace, he was OK. After that breath I don't wish to remember. I'm fighting hard to forget that rapid colour change. I was the one who noted his pulse had stopped. When it did, it was weird. It felt like he'd left the building. I told mum he'd gone and my brother called the doctor. As soon as it was confirmed I kissed his cheek and ran out of the room. Never wishing to remember the latter half of his final 10 minutes.

Haemorrhagic Stroke
Asked if Dad had experienced any symptoms beforehand - no. Not really. Ok so his bacon tasted weird (after he got off the phone to me) and he had a very bizarre, sharp, but brief headache before setting off to work - but it didn't stop him driving in to work or preventing him from talking or anything else. He had been in work for 20 minutes before collapsing mid-stride completely unaware (as far as we have been told) of anything happening to him. He was having a fit of some kind as his work colleagues originally thought it was an epileptic seizure - he was not conscious
For this I will be eternally grateful. 
He knew nothing about it - what he always wanted, and he didn't die alone - what he always wanted.

This doesn't mean to say that all haemorrhagic strokes have no real symptoms. PLEASE remember the F.A.S.T test. Look out for, and take very seriously, the following indicators that someone may have had or is having a stroke:
Face
Arm
Speech
Time to call 999.

You'll never walk alone Dad, and I know now that I never will either. I'll love you forever xxxx

25 comments:

  1. You are so brave chick to open your heart like this and share one of the most life changing moments in so much detail. Huge hugs and love xxxxx

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  3. Oh Jo I am sobbing reading this. I can't imagine how much it took for you to be able to write this let alone post it. Sending you lots of love as always xx

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  4. Jo I'm so incredibly sorry for your loss. Thank you for being so generous with your experience and trying to help others. Take care and be kind to yourself xxx

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  5. Lovely post jo, love u lots xxx

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  6. I am so sorry to hear your story. My heart goes out to you. It was a very brave thing to do writing this post and I truly hope it provided you with some therapy in helping you deal with your tragedy. 51 is no age! Tx

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  7. I'm so sorry that you lost your dad :( you were all very brave and loving to be with him in the hospital, it was very touching to hear about the helpful lady Laura. I can't imagine how it must feel, everything fine one minute..then having to rush to hosiptal.. such sad news :( sending lots of love x

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  8. I am so sorry to read this. Thoughts are with you all x

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  9. I've welled up reading this Jo, you're a beautiful person. Your Dad was clearly surrounded by so much love in those final moments xxx

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  10. Just wrote a reply & it disappeared!
    I'm so sorry to read this. I lost my Mom at the end of April and was also able to be there at the end. It won't seem like it but it will bring the upmost comfort during hard times knowing that you were there at the end and they knew that. I won't say anything else because words don't really help me. I just want my mom back. Xxxxxx

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  11. Aw have just read this & had to comment the same thing happend to my mum when I was younger and it's awful i don't really know what to say to you as saying sorry for your loss is not enough and you never get over something like this but it really does get easier in time . Thoughts and love to u and your family at such a sad time xx

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  12. So sad to have read this, I know how you're feeling but i'm so pleased you have found comfort knowing your dad passed in a way that he would have 'wanted'... with you and your family by his side and peacefully. My mum was in hospital 4 and a half years ago, we were told she was going to be fine, not for a while, but she would be fine. The one day we had THAT phone call. The one no one ever wants, the one were you're told to get there asap. Like your dad, we chose to turn off support before we didn't have the choice, my mum always said she didn't want to end up a 'cabbage' as she put it She was 43, I was 20, my brother was 12. It was hard, very hard for a long time but it gets better. You remember the good times... and laugh about the bad. Chin up and be the person your dad would want you to be, he'll forever be with you.

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  13. My heart goes out to you and your family x

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  14. This is such a moving post, Jo. I am so sorry for your loss. Thinking of you and your family. xx

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  15. I am so sorry for your loss, I lost my Dad in October and I know the pain is awful. I can only imagine how difficult this week must be for you and your family.

    My thoughts are with you all, lots of love heading your way.

    Sam H x

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  16. So so sorry for your los Jo! You are showing strength just by posting this - we are all here for you so take your time xxxx

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  17. Gosh, there i am going on to your blog to do a competition not realising that only a month ago you'd been through this!!! This is a heartbreaking story for you, your family and especially your dad. To only be 51 and collapse is hideous. While he obviously didn't suffer too much (as many do for months or years) the fact that he was so very young makes it difficult to deal with.
    I lost both my parents far too young (mum,43 ; dad, 66) and now that i have two kids i feel all the more sad that they have lost out on meeting their grandkids and vice versa. You clearly have a wonderful family and are a very strong individual. How brave you are to write this post (can't imagine how you went about finding the words) and today i am thinking of you and your lovely daddy. x

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  18. I can't imagine how you must have felt and are so brave to link again now to highlight the message.

    Such a moving post x

    #goldenoldies

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  19. So so sorry for your loss. So brave of you to be able to write this down and share with us. I hope it raises awareness of the signs to look out, x thanks for linking up #GoldenOldies

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  20. So sorry for the loss of your father and at such a young age too. Thank you for writing the post. I will always remember F.A.S.T.

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  21. Thank you for sharing your story, it is never easy to talk about the death of a loved one especially when it is sudden and unexpected. As the years pass the sadness of that day passes but the love and connection to the person who has gone on ahead never lessens.

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  22. This is awful for you and i'm so sorry. At the same time, what a beautiful blog post and very well written. Heartbreaking but truth!

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  23. p.s This made me cry. Will share for you on social media.

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  24. So sorry for you loss Jo. Losing a loved one is hard.

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  25. Heart breaking story. Your dad was so young. I'm so glad you were all there with him at the end. The lady who helped you to create a lasting memory of him sounds wonderful and very professional. I'm glad she was there for you. I hope your little boy has the teddy as a lasting memory of his grandad. Sending all my love. Xx

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