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Interview 29

Age at interview: 38
Brief Outline: His partner's mother was admitted to ICU after an accident in the home. He lived with them at the time and tried to provide emotional support.
Background: Doorman, single with four children. Ethnic background/nationality; Mixed Race.

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His partner's mother was admitted to ICU after an accident in the home. While she was in ICU, he went to the hospital almost daily with his partner. Sometimes he felt he might be in the way because he wasn't immediate family but tried to provide emotional support and hope. He would have liked more information from ICU doctors while his partner's mother was in ICU and much more care after his partner's mother was back home, including physiotherapy and regular follow-up appointments.  

He lived with his partner and her family at this time and saw how difficult it was for her and her parents.  His partner gave up her college course to look after her mother full-time. He, his partner and his partner's family are now much closer, and he and his partner have had a baby daughter. 
 
 

The journey to the hospital was difficult because they didn't know how his partner's mother would...

The journey to the hospital was difficult because they didn't know how his partner's mother would...

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So anyway we travelled backwards and forwards. And the journey seemed so long. It's not really a long journey but it seemed to take for ever. And on the way down there everyone would be quite chatty in the car, everyone would think, 'Oh, she'll be loads better today and, you know, we'll see a change.' And of course we'd get there and she was heavily sedated and you wouldn't really see a change in anything. So the journey back was horrible really, because everyone was quiet. You know, there was so much hope when we were going down there, and then on the way back it was just, no one really knew what to say. 

So during that time that [your partner's mother] was in hospital, you were going every day? 

Every day. 

Were you working as well or'?

My hours were pretty flexi. I work as a doorman. I mainly just worked on the weekends. As I say, my main concern was making sure [my partner] got there each day, especially when it was in [place name], which is quite a distance. Not so bad in [place name], it's five minutes from here. But in [place name] my main concern was just going with her. I think all the time [my partner's mother] was in hospital there was one day that we didn't go. 

And you were living here? 

I was, yes. 

How long had you known [your partner's mother]? 

Quite a while. I don't know, it must have been going on a year. It's like a family that I've never had in a sense, you know. So I felt quite close, very close to them. But as I say I did feel like an outsider at times. But still close enough for it to affect me. 

 

They kept trying to work out how his partner's mother could have fallen through the ceiling but...

They kept trying to work out how his partner's mother could have fallen through the ceiling but...

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That evening no one slept. We stayed down for quite a few hours. I mean [my partner's father] stayed at the hospital. But her brother, just kept looking at the hole. He was like in a daze, he was literally just looking up. And I was trying to say, 'Well, there's no point looking at it.' And then we sat around and we were talking on how it happened and why did it happen. And one of the worst things about the whole incident was, I use their mirrors because I work at night and obviously they've got full-size mirrors, and I actually went to go in there [bedroom] that evening before [my partner's mother] had gone in there. And [my partner] had stopped me because she said, 'My dad's having a sleep.' You know, that all came out and it was like, 'That could have been me. And if it was me, would I actually have fallen through the hole.' And so there was a lot of that. We were generally just talking and talking and going through it and through it, and no one could understand how she actually came through the ceiling. We still don't know today how she put both feet on the plasterboard. 

I mean how she fell through the ceiling... how she actually fell through the ceiling. She had to put both feet on the plasterboard, which is near on impossible. She should have walked through the door, stepped through, one foot should have gone through and she would have probably fallen forward and banged her head. But she managed to put both feet, she fell through. There was all nails sticking out. No cuts. Absolutely amazing. The funny thing was she managed to put her cup down, she had a cup of tea in her hand, and that was in between the rafters somewhere. And then how she missed the stairs and everything. So to me in a sense, it was a total miracle that she lived.
 
 

He would have liked photos and a video of his partner's mother's accident because they would help...

He would have liked photos and a video of his partner's mother's accident because they would help...

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If I could change anything about my experience, it sounds a bit weird, I'd actually film it. I'd film it for [my partner's mother]. I'd have filmed her in Intensive Care and I'd have filmed her in the hospital and I'd have took photos, because it would help her understand, because she's missed so much of it. So my advice to someone, even though it seems a bit strange, would be, you know, get it on film for their recovery. Believe they're going to recover. Take notes, take photos. And actually help the person when they recover understand. 

You'd have filmed everything in the hospital? 

I would have. 

Afterwards as well? 

All of it, absolutely all of it. From the moment she was, you know, on the floor. And I know, you know, you get people and you get paramedics and everyone think you're crazy and, 'What are you doing?' But I believe it actually would have helped [my partner's mother] and [my partner's father] and everyone else involved. Because, you know, if you captured it on film and if [my partner's mother] could see herself the way she was and then see herself now, you know, she'd be 'Oh'', you know. Because she was in and out of consciousness, she's missed so much that she doesn't understand. So I know it sounds weird, but I think, I think taking photos and actually putting some of it on film would actually help the person and the relatives at the end of it. 

 

At this desperate, uncertain time he prayed his partner's mother would recover and found it...

At this desperate, uncertain time he prayed his partner's mother would recover and found it...

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I think when something like that happens, I think we're all hypocrites because when something like that happens you do tend to look up. And I did pray in a sense, you know. I did kind of, you know, 'If there's a God out there? you know. Come on' kind of thing and I did look up. I believe there is something out there, a God thing or whatever. But, you know, I don't believe you die and that's it. So I did look up and I did, you know, have a faith in a sense and kind of prayed that she would be all right and she'd pull through. I did speak to the chaplain, I forgot about that bit. Very nice man. He didn't force religion down me. You know, he didn't say, you know, 'Get on your knees and pray to God and it will be all right' and this and that. Just very frank, very honest and very supportive, very nice man. And I know the chaplain helped them out tremendously. 

What did you speak to him about? 

I don't know. He just talked. And I think me, [my partner's brother] and [my partner] went to the chapel one day and he just sat there and he just talked to us, you know. He said everything would be all right and we lit a candle kind of thing, as you do, and he just reassured you. He did say to me if I ever wanted to talk, he did take me to one side and asked if I ever wanted to talk. Because I think he could see me suffering with trying to be, you know, strong for everyone, you know to go and see him. I never. I probably regret that a bit. I should have. I think everything was such a rush and there wasn't enough hours in the day to do everything. So, yes, so in a sense I did have a faith. I did pray that she'd be all right. 

 

He felt his partner's mother was transferred to a ward too soon and if her husband hadn't been...

He felt his partner's mother was transferred to a ward too soon and if her husband hadn't been...

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I think she went to the High Dependency first, which the care is obviously not as severe as Intensive Care. It's a stage down, isn't it? I just feel that the nurses are not trained as much. Because you can see the difference from when she goes from Intensive Care to High Dependency to a normal ward. I don't remember a lot of her in the High Dependency Unit. I can't remember how much time she spent there. I mean the next thing I remember is they moved her to a ward and put her in a room. We were once again not informed of like, you know, 'Was she out of the woods? Was she recovering? What's happening?' As I say they might have told [my partner's father], but we were pretty much kept in the dark. 

But to see her in the side ward and, you know, you'd go in, and I know everyone's busy, but it's the little things I remember. Like they'd bring her a drink with a straw. Now you've got to remember she couldn't sit up or she hadn't hardly moved and that. She was getting movement back and she was talking and everything, but there'd be, you know, a cup on the side with a straw, which they'd left there, you know. And she would be thirsty. And I feel she was moved out of the High Dependency Unit or Intensive Care too quickly. It was as soon as, you know, she was capable of breathing properly and she was moved out. But how can someone be moved out when they can't drink for herself and eat for herself? You know, I understand a lot of it's to do with relatives. As I say [my partner's father] done a lot, [my partner's father] would fetch the food, [my partner's father] would give her her drinks and that. But when [my partner's father] wasn't about, you know, there wasn't really anyone there, you know. 

And I remember a few times there'd be a drink on the side when I went in. And it's because [my partner's father] would have taken a break and gone for something to eat. And, you know, [my partner's mother] would want a drink but she couldn't press a button, you know, she couldn't do anything. And the people come round and put the drink on the side. Which absolutely appalled me in a sense. 

 

He felt that his partner's mother should have stayed longer in hospital to gain more strength and...

He felt that his partner's mother should have stayed longer in hospital to gain more strength and...

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And then the news was that she was coming home, you know. Which amazed me, because she couldn't stand up, she couldn't sit up. And, you know, all the time I just kept, I tried to grin and bear it for the family. Because I am very loud and I do get my point across. But the more fuss I make, the more it will upset other people. So I bit my lip in a sense. But I just thought to myself, 'How can she come home? She can't do anything for herself. How can she come home?' A bed was delivered, I don't know where it came from, but a hospital bed was delivered and a commode and stuff like that. Which I knew [my partner's mother] wouldn't like. She's a very proud woman. So we set it all up in the conservatory, and she came home. Still in my head it was, 'How can she be home? How are we going to care for her? We're not doctors, we're not nurses. You know, no one's really explained a lot what we're meant to do, how we're meant to do it.' 

I mean I think the doctor said to [my partner's mother], I remember it in conversation, you know, 'Go home and get better.' Well, just to say that to somebody, it's nice after the accident she had, but someone that can still barely, she couldn't barely move without support or anything, you know, I felt that she should still be in hospital. Because they just seemed to ship her in, ship her out. You know, 'She can breathe, so she can go home.' 

[My partner's] done 90 per cent of the looking after of [my partner's mother]. It was horrible to see her struggle to do anything. And she hated it herself. [My partner's mother] absolutely hated it. I think at times she didn't want to be how she was. I think I know that her worst bits, her worst time was when she was home, you know, and she'd get really upset and depressed and everything. You know, she actually came out with, you know, 'Why didn't I die, you know, I'd be better off dead.' 

And you can imagine what someone's going through. But, you know, that had an effect on everyone here when she was home. I mean you had good days and you had bad days. [My partner] was worn out. And everyone was worn out. And we didn't really know how to look after her, how we should look after her. I mean she didn't get any physio. I think she had a couple of visits, I think it was from the district nurse or something. But, you know, I actually thought you'd have a doctor or a nurse out every day. But you never. 

As time went on she did develop, she did get better. I mean she had to wear this brace just to sit up. And you can imagine, it was all done by mobile phones. You know, you'd be upstairs and [my partner's mother] would wake during the night and she'd need to go to the toilet. So, you know, she had the use of her hands and so she would text [my partner]. And [my partner] would get up and, you know, which was quite comical. But I mean you shouldn't have to do that. She should have still been in hospital or something in my eyes. But, you know, the amount of times you'd hear a text and it would be [my partner's mother] wanting something because she couldn't reach and all that. And then she, you know, she began to move more, very slowly, very slowly, every step. You know, to see her actually stand was amazing. 

 

Family members sometimes became very emotional when his partner's mother was having a bad time...

Family members sometimes became very emotional when his partner's mother was having a bad time...

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What was your day-to-day life when she was back at home? 

Hard. Not knowing what to do. Trying to do everything, but as I say not knowing. Trying to cope with [my partner's mother]. Mood swings for instance. You know, one day on a high, 'Yeah, I'm going to get better'' And the next day deeply depressed and in tears. You know, there was days where she just cried for hours. And then there was days where [my partner's mother] would be in tears and [my partner's father] would be in tears. So I'd sit with [my partner's mother] for two hours and say 'You know you are getting better.' But then [my partner's father] would be in tears, so I'd sit with [my partner's father] and say 'Common now.' He'd say, 'Oh.' He'd say, 'It's my fault.' And then going upstairs and seeing [my partner] in tears. So some days, you know, I felt really drained. Obviously I'd go out to work and I'd miss quite a lot. I'd come back and, you know, [my partner's mother] would be upset because it had been a long, hard day. As I say, all of them would be upset. So it was terrible. 

How long did this go on for? 

I can't, I honestly can't give you a time-span. It seemed forever. It really did seem to take a long time. As I say, she did, you know, she did develop, she did get better. 

Did you have anybody to talk to at work, that you could just offload? Or you didn't feel you needed to? 

I felt like I needed to offload. I mean they've got family friends and we chatted. They went to the hospital when we went to the hospital. I'd go round there occasionally and say, 'I can't stand it over there at the moment.' You know, because they did go through a stage of bickering, all three of them, you know, at each other's throats. And it, you know, it was just horrible to watch. But none of them were in the wrong, it was just tiredness and stress. And so I suppose, you know, I spoke to the family friends, but no one else really.

 

His partner's brother hardly ever visits now, even though he and the rest of the family are much...

His partner's brother hardly ever visits now, even though he and the rest of the family are much...

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I probably got closer. As I say, you know, this family has become more like my family, the family that I've never had. So I do feel really close. [My partner's mother] is like a second mum to me, and [my partner's father's] like a second father. I could have killed them at times, don't get me wrong. You know, they beat themselves up all the time. And the arguments, petty little arguments. You know, that sticks out a lot to me. And I've certainly got closer. I feel part of the family. And I actually feel privileged to know them and to see what they've been through. And I think [my partner's mother] and [my partner's father] are remarkable people. And [my partner], you know, she's remarkable. The brother, does what he does but, you know, he can't handle any of it. He can't stand seeing his mum like she is. And I think if anything, they've drifted a bit. He loves them obviously and all that, but he just can't stand seeing his mother not being able to do what she used to do. So his way of dealing with it is staying away, pops round occasionally but' 

I admire all three of them. And I think if it had happened to a lesser person, lesser of a family unit, then certainly [my partner's mother] wouldn't have survived and, you know, I think people would have had some breakdowns or something. But because they're such a strong family unit, they pulled through it.

 

His partner's mother should have stayed in hospital longer so she could get the support she...

His partner's mother should have stayed in hospital longer so she could get the support she...

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So anyway as I say, you know, [my partner's mother] came on leaps and bounds. Still no one came. You know, we were expecting nurses, physios, stuff like that. No one came. I think in the end [my partner's mother] eventually saw her own doctor. And he said she was, you know, getting on well, she still had to take it easy, you know, everything was developing. She ended up going to physio, but a private physio that she paid for. Which is another thing I can't understand. Surely the hospital should provide someone? And I thought there would be somebody on a daily basis giving her exercises and everything. But there wasn't. So ended up paying for that. And we basically moved on to this day. 

But [my partner's mother] still suffers. I still think, you know, in my eyes there should have been regular visits to the hospital, you know, X-rays, stuff like that. Because how does anyone know what's going on? And she's on a lot of medication. Which concerns me, because it's long-time medication. And, you know, you read about it, you know, if you take something for a long time it can damage your insides. I just feel that there's not enough checking-up from the hospital. You know, they don't follow up. They go to this group, which I think is a cracking idea, which I believe was started by one of the Intensive Care nurses, which I think that's very good for the pair of them. But apart from that, you know, the hospital discharged her and that was that in their mind. Which, it's wrong to send someone home in the condition [my partner's mother] was in, was wrong. You know, yes, we're family, yes, we're friends, yes, we will care, but we're not medical people. We, we didn't have a clue. 

You know, every day we learned something. But if something had happened to [my partner's mother] you know, when she was flat on her back, you know, if she'd had breathing difficulties or something, we wouldn't know what to do. And I think out of the whole thing, that gets to me. And, you know, we all pay National Insurance and stuff like that and I just don't think you get what you're paying for. And I'm not blaming the staff, not the nurses. I think they're tremendous. To me, the whole system's wrong. It's all about, 'Get the person in. Get the person out.' And I think that made circumstances ten times worse. I think if [my partner's mother] had spent a couple more months in hospital, and had physio, it would have been so much easier on everyone, and [my partner's mother]. You know, the fact that she came home and she was dependent on us lot. As I say she's a proud woman. She didn't like that, you know, she really didn't like that. And I didn't like seeing her like that, because she'd always done everything for everyone, and suddenly she could do nothing. And so I just think it's wrong. As I say, she still suffers today.

 

His partner's mother's illness had brought them all closer together and it had shown him that he,...

His partner's mother's illness had brought them all closer together and it had shown him that he,...

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I envy in a sense [my partner's] family, because that's how families should be. It hasn't made me any closer to my own family. I'm still very distant. You know, I don't really see my father, my mother or my sisters. We don't really get on. So it's changed my outlook on life. I believe you should live day by day. Take all the good things that come to you. You know, enjoy it. Because you never know what's round the corner. My outlook on life is a lot different. I would say, you know, I used to be a workaholic and I just wanted to make money, be successful and be rich and now that's not my priority really. You know, I want to have, I want to develop a family life with [my partner] and my daughter as close as this family is. So, yes, it has changed me. 

And is there anything else that was important to you over that time up until now that I haven't asked you about? 

I don't know. I think the family unit is important to me. I'm still very, you know, opinionated that she doesn't get proper treatment now, that still gets to me. I'd have thought she would, even now, have gone back for an X-ray to see what's going on. But there's nothing. I don't know. I just go day by day now. I don't look too far into the future. Having [our daughter] has perked [my partner's mother] and [my partner's father] up, you know, they're brilliant grandparents and a bit of joy in their lives. 

I've learnt I'm more compassionate than I thought I was, more caring. I've always thought of myself as quite a selfish person. So I've learnt that I can care for people, I can help people out. I've actually learnt a lot about my emotions. You know, there's nothing wrong to cry as well. Very old-fashioned, men don't cry. But it's all a load of rubbish. Yes, my emotions, I've learned a lot about my emotions and things. I've learned that I'm not particularly a bad person, you know.

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