After many years running this site and several thousand emails and posts from you guys I feel the need to tell you what’s been happening in my personal life lately.
Just a few months ago we found out that Emily was pregnant. This news came a week before we moved and everything seemed perfect. Then, as we moved home, my dad started to complain how tired and lethargic he was. After a short while his doctor said he was anaemic and scheduled blood tests to find the cause. As things progressed my dad continued to work – he’s one of the lucky few who enjoys his job, it’s almost like a hobby to him. A number of weeks went by and he got admitted into hospital for bone marrow taps, scans and more blood tests. The tests came back and they diagnosed inflamed lymph glands, which could either be caused by cancer or possibly just an infection.
Dad was in hospital having bloods and fluids put into him and we visited him daily. I’ve spent several weeks going every day after work and he remained up-beat throughout. Even when the doctor told us that it was cancer (non-Hodgkin’s T-Cell Lymphoma), he was still more concerned with the fact that he’d not be going back to work for a while – plus he didn’t like the fact that he’d have to drink less alcohol.
I saw my Dad on Friday night. He’d had his first dose of chemotherapy just two weeks ago and, although he’d lost weight and some of his hair, he was still more concerned about my mom, my brother, his girlfriend, me, Emily and our unborn child. He told me to go home and make sure Emily was OK, to look after her. On Saturday the nurses had good news – his levels were up and the white blood-cells were being produced again. However, his obs showed a dramatic drop in blood pressure and he was sent from his isolation room to CCU (Critical Care). From here our weekend turned into a horrid nightmare. I dashed to the hospital to be told that my dad was about to die. I couldn’t, and still don’t, understand it. The chemotherapy for this type of cancer has a good success rate and we all believed he’d probably be in and out of hospital for several months, but in the end he’d be OK. We had to believe that.
The doctors and staff and Staffordshire General Hospital were excellent, but I wasn’t prepared for it. When I put the apron on and entered CCU my dad was fighting for his life – grabbing at the pipes and trying to take his mask off. I’m crying as a type this.
The doctors told us that the next few hours were critical and we hoped and prayed for a miracle. Amazingly he pulled through those few hours but, at about midnight, the doctors came into the family waiting room to tell us that the odds were heavily stacked against him. We learned that he’d collapsed in his room and had probably had a small heart attack which had damaged his heart. He had also picked up an infection, which he couldn’t fight properly after this. I broke down. I tried to go back and talk to him – he was still talking to us and didn’t really know what had happened or what was happening now. I collapsed. What hurt the most was the sad realisation that he’d never be able to see his grandchild. I shouted and screamed and totally lost control. It’s so unfair.
My mom told me to go home and I lay awake all night waiting for the call but, as daylight broke, it hadn’t come. I hoped for a miracle but, just then, the staff nurse called. I dashed to the hospital but he’d already gone. I managed to go in and say goodbye.
I don’t know quite what to say to you guys. I’m spending some time with my family at the moment and trying to make some sense of it all. Everybody that ever met my dad said what a nice man he was and I’m taking solace from those comments plus all the memories I’ve got. He was the kind of man who never wanted to be old, never wanted to retire and never admitted he was ill and even during those last days he was more concerned with other people rather than himself.
It may seem a little weird posting this here, but I feel slightly better for posting it and, should you guys feel like doing so, we’re donating a proportion of the server funds towards his favourite charities – Cancer research and the Air Ambulance. Donate direct if you wish. I’ll be working on the site still, as it keeps my mind active, however I may not reply to emails just at the moment.