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Interview 09

Age at interview: 60
Brief Outline: Was admitted to intensive care in 2004 because of a severe asthma attack. Was in intensive care for 3 days and on a general ward for about ten days.
Background: Occupation; bus driver. Marital status; divorced. Number of children; 2. Ethnic background; White British.

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He remembered an asthma attack coming on but nothing else until he came round in ICU three days...

He remembered an asthma attack coming on but nothing else until he came round in ICU three days...

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And I thought, "Oh, there's an asthma attack coming on." So I went straight to the wardrobe, I put my trousers on apparently, I went to the wardrobe, put on a dressing gown and headed for the front door, you know, to phone for the ambulance and be outside ready for the ambulance. And that is the last I remember.

I do not remember making the telephone call. I must have made it but the memory, call register on the mobile phone doesn't come up with 999 calls, when I checked it didn't come up. I do not remember the ambulance arriving but I've been told by Resuscitation that I was outside ready for it. I cannot tell you whether I walked on to the ambulance or whether I was carried on.

I do not remember arriving at the hospital. I'm told that the ambulance crew, when they first arrived, were not particularly concerned, but when I had arrived in hospital I had actually stopped breathing. So the next thing I actually remember, I mean we were talking about, this was 3 o'clock on a Tuesday morning, the next thing I remember was 5 o'clock on Friday morning, when I came round in Intensive Care. And I remember the green-uniformed nurse standing above me. 
 

He had a severe asthma attack and was moved to a ward after three days in intensive care.

He had a severe asthma attack and was moved to a ward after three days in intensive care.

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I was kept in Intensive Care all morning and round about lunchtime, 1, 2 o'clock in the afternoon I was transferred to a ward. I'm given to understand that there were lots of tubes coming out of me and that I spent the three days under sedation and on a life-support machine, something that did the breathing for me.

And when you were in Intensive Care, what did they explain to you what had happened?

Well, I think I knew what had happened. I think I was a little surprised, but it was obvious. So I don't think they really had to say very much. It's not as if they've got to break some bad news to you. It was staring you in the face.

And by then you said they'd taken the tubes out?

Yes, when they brought, they took those out before I was brought round. I didn't have anything down the nose or throat, no, no.

And you were there for the morning?

I came round about 5 o'clock in the morning. There was a change of shift at 7. But the nurse was by the bed most of the time. One of the two nurses was a man and the other was a woman, and I can't remember which way round it was. I think it was the woman first and then the man, from 5 until 7 and then the man.

 

He could shave one day and have a bath the next but didn't have the strength or energy to do both.

He could shave one day and have a bath the next but didn't have the strength or energy to do both.

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Having been under, I'm given to understand from the asthma nurse that whatever it is that they inject into you to keep you under sedation takes one week to clear out of the body for each day you are sedated. And so those sort of chemicals would have taken three weeks to clear out. And I was discharged from the hospital about a week, ten days after, so I had another ten days still, ten, fourteen days still. During that time of course I was very weak. I could have a shave one morning and a bath the next morning, but not a shave and a bath on the same morning. 

You just feel exhausted?  

Well, I was weak, yes, not exhausted. But I mean you are often weak after an asthma attack anyway, you know, so that was expected. But I had expected that it would take about three weeks to recover, which is usual after an asthma attack. But this didn't, this took much, much, much longer, a good two months, a good two months, probably three. Yes, three months really.

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