Sunday, 20 March 2011

The worst choice

The only inevitability of life is death. We all know this. It doesn't ease the pain of the journey.

My father has been on this course of antibiotics for three and half days. They aren't working. Tonight we are told he probably won't get any better than he is now. He lies in a hospital bed struggling to catch his breath through the infection. Limbs diminished, bruised from nurses trying find a suitable vein, but still with a grasp surprisingly strong as he holds our hands. Does he know it us, what is happening to him?

This is the greatest loss I have ever faced, and I know it will be awful. Worse for Mum, the love of his life.

I will miss him.

This week there will be decisions to make. Keep him 'nil by mouth' while his lungs try to fight the pneumonia, and he is starved of food or let him comfort eat whilst the infection deepens filling his lungs and starving him of oxygen. How do we even begin to contemplate either?

I always imagined that my dad would walk me down the aisle, see his grand children find their way in the world, see me settled before leaving me. Instead, I sit here alone with my laptop and a glass of rioja for company wondering how much longer he will cling to life, to us.

Saturday, 19 March 2011


After years of this illness that is stealing you, I think much of my grieving is done. You're not my dad any more. But, then, a moment catches me as I see your photo and desperately try to remember the man that you were.

I'm scared that the memory I have of you will be of the man, weak and without words lying helpless in a hospital bed. I don't want this to be my memory. I look at the photo of you, healthy, smiling, happy amongst friends and family and I struggle to connect with this image, feel it. It is this memory I want and struggle to find.

Like most children, I guess, we take for granted what we have while we have it.

Tears run slowly down my cheeks as I type.

I want to remember the man who took me swimming on Saturday mornings. I want to remember the man who made me feel safe and loved when I though the world was falling down round me.

I reach for these memories and they are interrupted by today's reality. You lie there, needing comfort, a little human connection. It is a long time since I heard you say my name.

I think you know who we are, well, to the point that you know you are safe with us. Loved by us. But you are slipping away with these memories of you. I am scared of forgetting you. Scared of losing you. Scared of losing these remnants of a life.

I miss you. I don't want you to go, and I know you will soon. I wonder if then I will be able to remember your laugh, your smile, your kindness?

Dementia is cruel. It is a perpetual thief of small pieces of life. It is a temptation of hope and grief. One loss at a time.

I will cling to the little I have left of you.

Friday, 18 March 2011


My father has pneumonia. My mother is fighting against all that she's being told. It's understandable. He's slipping from our grasp. He's very sick.

He lies there with his specs on his bedside cabinet. Without them, he can't see. The world becomes even more confusing than it is already in the strange surroundings of an acute medical ward. Strange noises, lights and people with no way of reaching out to ask for what he needs.

I try to find compromise between my mother and the staff in award not geared towards those with dementia.

I understand her anger, it's really simple fear. Fear of loss. Fear of losing her husband.

A difficult exchange with an unprepared junior doctor ends with a little give and take, and a promise of better care. They need to treat his illness, but they need to care for the person and it's this bit that's missing. Simple things we all need, like respect, make such a difference. A pair of pyjamas and specs on him not on a table would make him the man and not a body in a bed.

He is dying. Maybe he will recover and go back to his unit, but for how long? Even if he is able to fight the pneumonia, each week and day brings fewer words and glances, more sickness.

He grasps at the sheets and gown with anxiety and all we can do is fight for him to be seen as a person and not an inconvenience in a busy ward.

I am scared of what is to come.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Techincal glitches....

It's been a long while since I edited the appearance of my blog, but the background image has disappeared and I can't seem to get it back. I don't even seem to be able to change the basic template so that it's not just white space....arghh!

Any ideas?