A-Z

Interview 13

Age at interview: 40
Brief Outline: In 2006 her husband had liver disease and pneumonia and sadly died in ICU. She has gained strength from having counselling and from her spirituality.
Background: Social services employee, widowed with one child. Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

More about me...

Her husband was admitted to hospital because he had liver disease and spent sixteen days on a liver specialist ward. When he caught an infection which developed into pneumonia, he was admitted to ICU. He spent five days in ICU, a week in HDU and was then transferred back to ICU when he caught another infection. Sadly, he died two days later.  

After her husband's death she felt devastated, low and didn't want to go out or see anyone. Eventually she decided to discuss her feelings with a counsellor and, at the time of interview, had had eight sessions. She has found the counselling extremely helpful and has also drawn strength from her spirituality, which has become an important part of her life. Although she still has difficult days, she has regained her interest in meeting up with friends and has returned to work. She is interested in setting up a support group for young widowed women, like herself, and using her own experiences to help others.
 
 

Counselling helped her accept what had happened and start moving forwards with her life again.

Text only
Read below

Counselling helped her accept what had happened and start moving forwards with her life again.

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
So after about, I don't know three or four weeks, I was finding it really, really difficult and I was, everything was all over, you know the funeral was over and I was just really, really struggling. So I phoned up and I was given a counsellor who is an absolute star and she asked me whether I would rather she visit me or I go there, to the hospital. Well my little boy has got a dentist appointment there in September so I thought well it is better that I go back before this or else I will be in a right state won't I on the day. So that is what I did and we visited Intensive Care. And it was really, really good actually. It was really therapeutic really to go back up into, and visit everybody, you know and to see everybody. It was nice. 

Yes. And what kind of things have you been able to discuss with the counsellor that's helpful for you? 

Everything, everything. And the advantage is that my counsellor used to be a sister on Intensive Care. So I mean you don't have to start explaining everything to her, you don't have to say well he was given this drug but I don't know what it was for or what it was called and he had this thing in his neck but I don't know what it was there for. She knows it all. And she has been there before many, many, many times. And, I don't know, I could just discuss, I don't know the fact that I felt guilty and would he have got better if I had done this, and would he have got better if he had gone to the doctors earlier. Well she has got a medical background obviously. And she had read his files and she looked at the scans and she can tell me things that make me feel better. 

And you found it really helpful. How have you changed since the sessions in terms of being able to go out and you know you wanted to be by yourself. Has that changed or is it still a very gradual thing? 

Well I am back at work. And there are days that are still really, really bad. You know there are days when I think I can't be bothered, you know just go away [laughs] but I don't know, she has given me back a bit of enthusiasm. And made me sort of understand that my husband was very outgoing and he was very enthusiastic about things and he would expect better of me. Do you know what I mean? He would expect me to embrace everything that I have got. So, that is what I am trying to do.

 

With the help of a counsellor, she is moving forwards, developing new interests and being able to...

Text only
Read below

With the help of a counsellor, she is moving forwards, developing new interests and being able to...

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
It is awful. And there isn't any escaping that. It is awful. And you think that you have got years and years and years of loneliness in front of you. So the advice that I would give would be to find things that you do enjoy and build on what you have got. And also to take it easy, you know, don't expect everything to feel better instantly because it just isn't going to happen. And even - well there is always I think, there is going to be days when you just feel absolutely grim, but as time does go on, those days aren't every day, you know. 

Do you think much about the future or is your main concern to kind of get through week by week? 

Straight after he died it was getting through day by day but now I am starting to think of the future. Yes. I want him to be proud of me, that is what I always think, would be proud of me. 

 

She sat with her husband until he died and, in time, was given information about what she had to...

Text only
Read below

She sat with her husband until he died and, in time, was given information about what she had to...

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
At that point did you have all the privacy that you needed? 

Yes. Yes. They had actually got two special rooms and both of them had got locks on the doors. So if you want a really, really private time you can just lock it and they have got a kitchen there which is excellent. But they haven't got any beds.

And once they told you that your husband had passed away, you were in your own private room with your parents and mother in law? 

Yes. 

What happened afterwards. After'?

Afterwards. The nurse asked me about tissue donation and about organ donation. She gave me a booklet which was fantastic actually. It was the best thing that anybody could ever have done for me because I was so spaced out and it was a sort of step by step guide really of things that I had got to do. Basic things, you know, like register the death, phone up' that was absolutely fabulous. I have got that actually. It was really good. And that was it really. She gave me a big squeeze, a big cuddle and we left. 

What was the next thing to do after that. If someone was in a similar situation wondering what happens next, what happens next. You came back home. You had this leaflet that told you step by step? 

That is right. 

What was the next thing that you did? 

Well he died on the Sunday, so obviously the Registry office isn't open on Sunday. So on the Monday, the doctor gives you a, it is a certificate of the reasons that he has died. It isn't a death certificate. And you phone up the Registry Office and explain the situation and you go down with this thing that the doctor has given you and you are issued with a Death Certificate.

 

The nurses explained everything about the treatments, answered all her questions and supported...

Text only
Read below

The nurses explained everything about the treatments, answered all her questions and supported...

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
And while you were in Intensive Care was everything explained to you? 

All the time. All the time. Yes. And the nurses there were really, really patient, because I ask things you see. I ask over and over again [laughs]. I am very, very inquisitive about things and they were really patient with me. They explained things all the time. They were really very good indeed. 

What were your main concerns during the different stages on the general ward, on ITU, during his time in hospital, what were the most important things on your mind. Your concerns? 

To be kept informed. That was mine. I - whether I have got - I just think I have got, I don't know, I find things easier to bear if I can understand exactly what is going on. I must have really aggravated all the nurses. Because every injection he had I said what is that one for, every tablet he took I said what is that one for. But everybody was really nice and explained it. 

And answered all your questions? 

Yes.

 

Some days during the next few weeks she felt so depressed she didn't want to see anyone or leave...

Text only
Read below

Some days during the next few weeks she felt so depressed she didn't want to see anyone or leave...

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
At the beginning I was absolutely, I wanted to die, honestly, I really, really did. Obviously I couldn't because I have got responsibilities but I would have been happy to die. 

Yeah. And how was your health? Afterwards you felt really exhausted? 

Yes. I was really tired. 

Really down? 

Yes. 

How was your health? 

I developed eczema. I have never had eczema before in my life but it was all over me knees. My hair started coming out [laughs] and I went to the doctor and she gave me some antidepressants which I have stopped taking because I don't think I am depressed. I think I am actually grieving which is a different thing isn't it. And for about I don't know about four or five weeks I found it really, really hard going out. Really difficult going out of the door. I didn't want to speak to anybody. Everybody was ringing me up saying can we do this, come for tea, come for a drink, come out with us because you don't want to be in on your own. But all that I wanted was really to be on me own. That is it. I didn't want anybody else at all. 

 

She didn't want her husband to suffer any more and agreed with the doctor's advice to withdraw...

Text only
Read below

She didn't want her husband to suffer any more and agreed with the doctor's advice to withdraw...

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
So he [husband] was in the ward and he developed pneumonia and went into Intensive Care? 

Yes. 

How long was he in Intensive Care when he went to the hospital? 

The first time? 

Yes. 

He was in Intensive Care for a week exactly. Yes. 

Then in High Dependency for...? 

Six days and then he was back in Intensive Care three days. Two days actually. Yes.

So when he went into the general ward the first time, he went into the general ward after having tests? 

Yes. 

So you knew he was going in? 

Yes. 

Did you know at that stage what would be happening next? 

No. We knew from the results of the scan that he was very, very, very poorly and after our first day there, at the hospital, the doctor there did explain to us exactly what was going on. And he was very, very, very honest with us. You see that is one of the good things about this particular hospital is that they have got a - they believe that honesty is the best policy and that it is better to be very, very open about everything then it is to sort of hide things and so I knew'. 

You appreciated that? 

Exactly. What was going on. 

And on the day that he passed away. Were you there at the time. Or did you receive a phone call? 

I was there. Well he had been deteriorating all day. His oxygen levels were dropping and they had given him everything, everything really and the doctor explained that they reach a point of what they call futility when there isn't anything else they can do really. 

The doctors explained that to you or the nurses? 

Yes, they did. Both actually, doctors and the nurses. And then it was about 3 o'clock in the morning. I did actually stay over that night and the nurse came in and said, 'he has reached that stage' and asked whether I liked for them to carry on sort of trying anything. But really by then I had seen him being prodded about, you know, needles being stuck in every bit of him, and I just thought it is better to let him go really. So they stopped the drugs that were keeping his blood pressure up and he died at 5.15 that morning. 

 

Her husband, who'd had liver disease, improved slightly at first but was then re-admitted to ICU...

Text only
Read below

Her husband, who'd had liver disease, improved slightly at first but was then re-admitted to ICU...

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
My husband had been ill for about - some time. But being a typical bloke he didn't go to the doctors and just got ill and tired and lethargic. And then he did have jaundice. So that is when I put my foot down and I said, 'Right that is it, you have got to go to the doctor. You have got to see the doctor.' And so we did do. And she sent him for a liver scan. And we actually got the results of those back on that day. And he had got what is called a decompensated liver disease which is a disease generally associated with very, very, very heavy drinkers. Now he didn't drink in excess. It was just unfortunate that he had a liver that was intolerant to alcohol and he only found this out after the disease had gone that far that it would be very, very difficult to retrieve his health really. 

So he was taken into hospital. And he was put on a liver ward. And he was making progress. He was on a specialist liver ward and it was improving slowly. His bloods were improving. And then he developed a cough and so we didn't really think anything of it. The doctors really didn't think anything of it at first but then it got worse and worse. They sent him for a chest x-ray which came back clear 

So he did this x-ray which was clear or so they thought. And then he started to swell up. And his kidney bloods came back deteriorated. And they gave him some antibiotics but unfortunately his chest infection developed into pneumonia. So he was rushed up to Intensive Care. He was put onto dialysis and given all sorts of different antibiotics to try to clear the infection on his chest and it did do. And after about five days in Intensive Care he was off the ventilator. He got a tracheostomy in. He was off the ventilator onto something called the CPAP, which is a sort of a step down, and he was transferred onto High Dependency where he was given some drinks and able to start drinking again. 

Unfortunately he aspirated on his drinks, which went up to his lungs which then caused some sort of infection, similar to MRSA, it is actually part of the MRSA group. So he developed that. His kidneys started to play up and his liver was deteriorating again badly. All these things are connected with each other you see. So then after he had been on High Dependency for a week, he was transferred back onto Intensive Care. And from there on really he just deteriorated. They tried everything that they could do but he was still deteriorating after he had been back on for two days. He died.  

 

Her husband had told her what kind of a funeral he'd wanted, including the music, and this was...

Text only
Read below

Her husband had told her what kind of a funeral he'd wanted, including the music, and this was...

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
How did you decide in terms of what to do about the funeral. Was that something that you'? 

We had actually talked about it before, yes. Often actually [laughs]. We must be a morbid couple mustn't we [laughs]. Yes we had discussed it. Yes. He even told me which records he wanted. So' 

So you knew all that? 

Yes. Yes. It was very organised actually. And as far as these things go it was really nice. It was.

 

Although at first she felt angry with God, Spiritualism and Buddhism helped her accept and deal...

Text only
Read below

Although at first she felt angry with God, Spiritualism and Buddhism helped her accept and deal...

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I have got very involved with the Spiritualist Church. By accident, because I didn't ever believe in anything before. In fact after he died I was very, very angry. Very angry with God. I didn't understand how any God that is supposed to be caring could ever, ever do this. Because I am an okay person, you know, I really, really try to be nice to everybody. And he was a really, really nice guy. And I just didn't understand at all. And then I was in the library getting some books on grief and I came across this book by, I think she's called Rita Rogers that's it, and it was about, it was called 'Grieving through Spiritualism'. So it was a sort of mixture of both. And I got this book out and I read it and it was absolutely fantastic. It really, really helped me. So I thought oh this is all right, I will see if I can get a little bit more involved in this. So there is a Spiritualist church just up there actually. Just a little bit up the road. So I have been going there and I have been sort of veering over towards Buddhism. So it has definitely, definitely helped me and it has also sparked an interest in things I had never been interested in before. So' 

Had you believed in God before or had any spiritual'? 

As a child I was a churchgoer, up until I was about 15 and then you know you sort of give over don't you. And when he was ill, really, really ill I prayed all the time, all the time, constantly I was in the chapel at the hospital and after he died I was just stunned that nobody had listened to me, you know, I thought how can this be. But I am sort of developing now more of an understanding I think. 

What kind of understanding has been helpful from a Spiritualist aspect. Has it helped you look at things differently? 

I believe now that this earth is a classroom and that we are all here to learn and to evolve from our previous existences and that if you have got a lesson to either teach or learn then you do it and then you go. And that is it really. 

 

As a young widow she has had to look after her financial affairs and advises others in a similar...

Text only
Read below

As a young widow she has had to look after her financial affairs and advises others in a similar...

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Over the last few months what have been your main concerns now, more recently? 

I don't actually know. Obviously financial concerns, although fortunately he was very well organised as far as his pensions and things go. I don't know, being an early, a young widow, is very different from being an older widow I think because you have got ages and ages and ages to go, haven't you, do you know what I mean [laughs]. A long, long, long time and I really can't envisage there being a time when I would be interested in another relationship. So I have been spending a lot of time finding things that I can build on. So I am going back to college and doing some further training and so, you know' 

I would advise people to go to the Inland Revenue, phone them up, phone up the DHSS, phone the Council Tax office, [laughs] and speak to the bank and you will find that everybody that you speak to is very, very helpful indeed. And as far as the financial situation goes you need to really go to the Citizens Advice and find out everything that you are entitled to. 

Previous Page
Next Page