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Interview 02

Age at interview: 60
Brief Outline: Had very severe cold and coughing in 2005, which turned out to be pneumonia. Was in intensive care for nearly a month and in general ward for about 4 days. Has now fully recovered.
Background: Occupation: retired electrical inspector. Marital status: single. Number of children: no children. Ethnic background: White British.

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He got tired quickly and recommends visitors only stay for short periods of time.

He got tired quickly and recommends visitors only stay for short periods of time.

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Patient' I had my birthday in there [ICU]. And there again the nurses were great, they put up all my cards around my bed and did everything they could to make me welcome, and I had visitors in as much as possible. And I had quite a crowd round my bed on the day didn't I? 

The only snag was my attention span was so short and I got tired very quickly, I kept dozing off. And I can't go to sleep when I've got visitors, not really, so it's not a good idea really for visitors to stay too long and they knew that.  

Mother' We used to stay all day at the beginning. And then go in for ten minutes, as soon a he began to look tired we came out. But we were there if, you know, if needed.  

Patient' I mean I think that if the visitors see that the patient is drowsy to the extent of dropping off to sleep, best that they leave for a little while and perhaps come back later because you have the feeling that you ought to try to stay awake for them. It doesn't matter if they say oh you go and have a little rest, go to sleep, we won't mind. It doesn't work like that somehow. Fortunately there was a good waiting room wasn't there, that you used to go to. 

 

He had a breathing tube in his mouth so got the nurses' attention by shaking a container that...

He had a breathing tube in his mouth so got the nurses' attention by shaking a container that...

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Patient' Oh I must've been pretty well unconscious for hours at a time, I only remember snatches. When I woke up I wasn't worried, I think I was too under the influence of morphine and things like that.

The later stage, when I started getting a little bit more stable, I woke up and I was on the breathing apparatus, oxygen and life support basically. And they'd obviously stabilised me because I came round then and I was, from then onwards I really remember most of it but full of haze because I was on a high dose of morphine. And I had all these leads monitoring my heart and breathing and everything you can imagine, wires going in here, there and everywhere else.

Mother' And in your throat.

Patient' Yes, yes and I had the breathing apparatus in my throat. And the worst thing about that is I couldn't speak so it was hard to communicate. And in a way it's one of the worst things about being on a life support. You can't communicate with people, people are very understanding and the nurses were pretty good at understanding what you wanted but if you wanted something and nobody was looking your way it was a bit worrying. But they gave me a little, like a little medicine bottle with beads or something in it and if I wanted attention I rattled it. And that brought attention straight away nearly every time, so that was a comfort.

Then I found that my hearing was going, I think that was because I was congested, and that made things even worse in a way because if you can't communicate one way and then the communication gets more difficult the other way. And also my eyes weren't, didn't seem to be all that good and I couldn't bare to be parted from my glasses. So whenever I was washed or anything they'd wash my face and I'd immediately put my glasses back on because that was really you know the only way I had of communicating.

 

He dreamt he was a washing machine and slept poorly because of the noise of equipment.

He dreamt he was a washing machine and slept poorly because of the noise of equipment.

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Oh I dreamt and the dreams were as real as being awake and in the dreams I felt like I was something like a washing machine built into a shop or something. And I was just one plugged into the system and people every now and again came and twiddled my, made adjustments here and there and perhaps I was seeing something in my dream I don't know. But I didn't sleep very well the whole time I was there.

Because I was on the life support system you had lines going into your arms which monitored your heart and there was one particular one that goes into your arm, or your finger, or your wrist and if your arm is lying in a certain way it blocks it. And then it sets off the, ding dong, ding dong, ding dong, and these kept on going off. And every time I went to sleep I moved and of course I moved in such a way that it set it off and woke me up. And I found that very annoying and I thought to myself well there's no real reason, they don't need to monitor my heart like that, you know I'm perfectly healthy [laughs]. Obviously I wasn't but I thought I was. 

That was something I had to put up with and I was woken up several times because every time, you know, these things went off as soon as I went to sleep. And you can't really lie asleep and stay in a certain position I don't, you know, care what anybody says you can't, you're bound to move. And anyway I had to put up with being woken up a few times. 

 

He appreciated being suctioned because it cleared his throat which helped him to breathe more...

He appreciated being suctioned because it cleared his throat which helped him to breathe more...

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My breathing, it was worrying the breathing side of it because you'd get this bubbling up inside you all the time and you'd have these nubulisers put in and your whole system seemed to be bubbling. And that was uncomfortable and disturbing, mentally disturbing as well as everything else. And the breathing wasn't easy and we had these, every now and again when you're having difficulties and you're getting a build up of phlegm on your chest, they had an apparatus where they could stick a probe down your throat, through the breathing apparatus which made you cough and it brings it all up, sucks it all out into a tube and you're usually clear again for a little while. And that was horrible to start with but in the end it became a comfort because you knew that, when you were in trouble, the chances are they'd do this and it would clear your throat. So that was quite good.

And eventually, you know, I might want one of these every two or three an hour perhaps and then it would occur to me that must be costing an awful lot of money to do that. It's funny what you think about. And I was thinking oh you know this really must be costing an awful lot of money but I've really got to have it. And then they were saying you must breath in a certain way and you didn't know if you were doing it properly or not.

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