Getting 2 texts within minutes from both your brothers is never good during a work day, “call me immediately, It’s urgent x”. You know there is something wrong, their kids, mum, dad? I was only there at the weekend and everyone was so healthy so could be anything. I call, it is dad. Taken to hospital in a critical condition after collapsing while playing football. I walk around the office aimlessly for a bit, not really what sure what i should be doing next. Someone comes to speak to me and I almost breakdown. Don’t really want to do that in the office so I leave and head over the road to the Cathedral. Sitting there is it’s vast space, I am not really sure what to do, I say the only prayer I know, The Lord’s Prayer.
I get a further call from my brother Dave, he is enroute home from Bristol and James is with mum at the hospital. I am feeling helpless as don’t know what to do. Do I go home? The obvious answer is yes but i know so little of what’s going on. I am now sitting in a coffee shop, you can’t answer a phone in a place of worship. Mum calls, she tells me to come home. Dad had stopped breathing, after having a heart attack while playing football and although they resuscitated him he is in ITU. I get the train from London to Bournemouth an hour later.
For those who don’t know my dad he is the strongest and most stubborn person I know, I was trained well in all of this. He liked to crush my hand on shaking it as a child and barged me off the ball playing football so I’d stand up for myself, make me compete. Life is not easy but he has always been there and so has my mum, calm, together and always ready to support me, even when i’d done the wrong thing. It’s very difficult to arrive to then see him on life support, attached to a multitude of devices. I am not sure what to do, it is very difficult to remain calm but what can you do, it is difficult to just sit there and stare at your dad lying motionless.
So the nurses and doctors on the ward in Bournemouth are incredible, in many ways. They all work around us during the day as they monitor his vitals and write up reports. Every question they answer, even to my cousin (also a nurse) who phones them constantly. The speed at which they reacted from getting him to the hospital, working out what was wrong; furred arteries which clogged up stopping blood circulating and made him stop working; they fixed this with little cocktail sticks called stints which are inserted via a artery in the arm in to his chest, unbelievable really. Based on this it is now 72 hrs of rest to ensure that his brain recovers along with his body before they wake him up. It’s not the heart now that is at question just his mental state on waking. You can not thank any of them of enough. They are not the only heroes in this story though. We spend the rest of the day with him and then go home, there is only so much watching you can do but you still feel guilty leaving him. We all needed hugs that night.
I get a call from the community chairman of Bournemouth AFC, Steve Cuss. He was there that day and helped ensure dad made it. He mentions two people Neil and Andrew both of whom administered CPR on the pitch and ensured he made it. Without these two guys my dad would be dead the doctors later said. They found his car and his stuff, there was very little in there to get them in contact with us, the closest they got was the home phone number via a recycling id. I try to thank him on the phone for helping but nearly break down again, have you ever thanked someone for helping to save someones life.
They plan to wake dad this morning, it’s difficult after two nights sleep to know what will happen. There is nothing much we can do but wait and see what happens. we don’t all go in, we can’t all be there. Mum goes and Dave goes to support, I stay with my other brother James. It’s moments like this where you feel a junction. Will it be fine or days, months, years of something harder. It turns out well. This is the bit the nurse, Michelle enjoys she says. Dad is awake, breathing unaided and seems to be fine. Drugs are making him groggy and blunt. I see him, “you don’t believe, you don’t believe in god he shouts at me”. No idea why and still don’t. He is rambling. Doesn’t believe he is in the hospital, that all around him is a dream. Are we real, he tries to pinch me. “why are you here?”, “why is the time wrong?”. It was 1.30pm not 11am when he last knew anything.
This is all good, very good. It doesn’t stop him being mean to mum, “you put me here”, “you never listen” he shouts. Mum leaves the room, it’s not him, just the drugs. Our aunt many years ago was exactly the same but then this bought her a mental home for a period. Times change. They start to detach the tubes and wiring over the next few hours. It feels great to see those go, even if they didn’t go without a fight from the “attractive” and “not so attractive” nurse and “very attractive” Dr Shaw. The drugs do work. It’s kind of what i was thinking also. I hold his hand, “can you squeeze this?”, he tries and nearly breaks my hand. He is back.
Progress now is rapid, almost unbelievable. He came in Tuesday and by the time Saturday comes he is sitting in a standard cardiac ward, with nothing but a catheter rammed up his penis (his own fault for trying to remove it overnight) and the blue outfit somewhat not hiding his modesty. He can recount mathmatics (he is a Dr of), remembers everything clearly up to the day, he can even shuffle around although unsteady on his feet. Now comes the incredible moment. Neil the guy who saved his life proper calls. He is so matter of fact about the incident, telling me “you’d do the same for my dad”, yes, but how?! Turns out he is a FA trained coach who looks after his autistic son and is genuinely a very nice guy. My dad says he looks like Kenny Rodgers. Again thanking him on the phone is so difficult. What do you say? “I’d just like to thank you for saving my Dad’s life, the doctors have all said without you, he wouldn’t be here”; “does you dad know yet i had to get intimate with him?”; I smile and cry. “Can i come and visit tonight he asks”.
When he does turn up it is again a strange intense moment. A hug from mum, a shake from me and a thank you from dad. It is all that simple but means so much more. He recounts to dad about what he did on the pitch; My dad had just keeled forwards and fell face down on to the pitch while playing football. It seems Neil just took charge, initially it looks like a stroke, he is gargling and breathing lightly, then he stops breathing. Getting the other guys to call a ambulance and get the trainers from Bournemouth FC, Neil administers CPR and kiss of life to my dad. He get’s him back before talking to the paramedic, dad goes again, he saves him again! The ambulance turns up and the paramedics take over. “Can you cut off his top?” they ask Neil, he does so hands shaking “Mind his balls they say”. That focused him he said and the rest is what I have already told.
I am off to visit my dad later, it is fathers day next week, something that i noted with heavy heart on the journey down to Bournemouth in every shop window. Having him here next week is all i can ask for!