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Interview 28

Age at interview: 46
Brief Outline: Was admitted to intensive care in 2004 because of septicaemia. Spent about 7 weeks in intensive care and 4 weeks in a general ward.
Background: Occupation: steel shutter fitter. Marital status: married. Number of children: 4. Ethnic Background: White British.

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He couldn't move or communicate his fears of a nurse trying to shoot him.

He couldn't move or communicate his fears of a nurse trying to shoot him.

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I'm hallucinating then. I think people's trying to break in the ward to kill me, I don't know why and the nurse, she was a Thai woman, she's got a gun to my head trying to kill me and I'm saying to [my wife] and the daughter hit her, hit her but like they can't tell what I'm saying because I've got a tube in [makes noise] and I'm frightened because I think people are trying to kill me and then I think I'm in 1902 in Australia, watching WG Grace play cricket and I've put one old penny on it - weird.

Thinking all these things and then and I and the nurse who's looking after me, I've one to one in intensive care, I'm telling [my wife] get up hit her, hit her but whether she can understand me I don't know. I think this nurse is trying to kill me, I'm hallucinating. I don't know at the time but they put that many drugs in to me that I'm tripping, like hallucinating things and I don't know what's what. So for a few days I don't remember. The days I can't remember how many days it were, the Mrs will probably know and the nurses, anyway, whether the drugs were wearing off I don't, I could like not talk but communicate you know they had books there and she's telling me I'm in intensive care, you nearly died twice.

Well I've gone "what?" But like not talking [makes noise] like that and I just didn't believe I said no but I realise I can't move. I've got tubes in me leg, mouth, head wherever there's anywhere to put tubes, there's tubes. I can't go toilet, I've a catheter, whatever. And then I'm frightened, thinking oh what's happening here am I going to be alright?

 

He disliked having physiotherapy but knew he needed it and appreciated the physiotherapists'...

He disliked having physiotherapy but knew he needed it and appreciated the physiotherapists'...

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But the nurses were great and they were, "Come on." I was like, but I don't want to get out of bed. But they're hoisting me out of bed, I'm nearly dead two week ago you know, and they're hoisting me out of bed and sitting me down. I can't but they're doing it for me own good. I don't want to go out of bed. I just want to relax but if you do that, you're going to go dormant aren't you. They want you moving, they want you getting up and they were brilliant, "You're coming out." "I don't want to." "But you're coming out of bed." 

They're brilliant and the physiotherapist, I used to hate, anybody who's been in intensive care oh the hospital physiotherapy. Oh, horrible. I used to call them horrible people but honestly they're brilliant. I used to go like that, "No". But they do, and they give you all these and they, oh the pain but you have to go through pain and anyway. Ah they were lovely people you know. They love me now. I love them. I've seen them since when I've been back. But you hate them in hospital when they first so, you know what they're doing because you're, "They're putting me through pain. What are they doing this with me leg for, what are they doing this with me arms?"

But if you didn't, you wouldn't move again. They have to do that but you don't like it. Anybody who's been in physio in hospital will tell you they hate them at first. I told them. I told them how I felt about them. And they said, 'We know. We always used to hate coming to you because you were just come, you'd go mad." But they did it for me own good. Even when I was comatised, they were still doing it, I don't know that obviously but they have to keep your body... But that were painful but they had to do it. 

 

He used to be an insomniac but now gets a full night's sleep.

He used to be an insomniac but now gets a full night's sleep.

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Could you sleep okay while you were there [in ICU]?  

Well not really, but they used to give me tablets to put me to sleep, because I used to tell them I can't sleep. They used to give me tablets to put me to sleep so, yeah and then as I got better I said I don't need the tablets. Now I'm a very, before I went in to hospital I was a very bad sleeper. I'd have maybe four, three hours a night, that's it. I was one of them people who couldn't sleep, what they called, insomniac. Anyway they got into the hospital room, I started sleeping, proper, which I couldn't before. Now I'm out I can, I used to stay up till two or three o'clock watching telly, now it's about eleven o'clock, ten o'clock I'm nodding off. 

Never, never in all my life have I been like that, so I can sleep better now but I think that's due to what me body's been through. And I can't do what I did before, I think I can but obviously I can't, it's making, me body's telling me no you can't, you're tired. And I'm having a damn goods night's sleep all the time now, which I never could. All me life I've never been able to sleep proper, no.

 

He appreciated the staff working in ICU and the difficulties of imparting bad news to patients...

He appreciated the staff working in ICU and the difficulties of imparting bad news to patients...

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I've no complaints about the hospital, the nurses, the doctors, they were all great. I just hope other hospitals are same as the hospital, which I should think they are all over, intensive care people are so dedicated the whole way through, they're all dedicated. They have to be to do that job. I couldn't do that job.  

What they go through on Intensive Care, telling people he's died or they, full families of them and they're all oh, I used to say to them, I've had a talk to them since, but it does get to them, even though they're professional nurses when somebody dies on there, who they've been looking to. And they know the family, you know because they know all, they knew all our, they knew all my family, kids you know and they've seen them every day and talked to them and been nice to them you know, and all for them to tell them that I'm dying, well it must be horrible because they've got close. They got close to [my wife], in fact they still talk to them you know, all the nurses in, so it must, I couldn't do the job but they were so, I can't speak highly enough of them, lovely people.

 

He felt scared and upset when he became aware of people dying in ICU and HDU.

He felt scared and upset when he became aware of people dying in ICU and HDU.

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So you say that while you were in intensive care you saw people who didn't survive in there, how did you feel about that? 

Frightened because I thought this is not, this is a place where people die. They're not, nobody's going home out of here, so I'm not going home. I'm thinking I'm not going home out of here. 

Just going back to the intensive care, before the interview you said people didn't survive in there and sometimes you saw their families coming in. How did you feel about that?

Well upsetting, you could hear them crying and, not nice and on HDU I saw more deaths on HDU than intensive care because I weren't compus mentis proper on Intensive care, you know what I mean. I saw more deaths on HDU and on the ward as well and they asked me then if I want counselling because I'd seen that many. I said no I'm alright but I'm just thinking, they're there for the grace of God, but that could've been me. They said I would die twice to the Mrs and nearly collapsed when they told her but this mustn't have been my time. 

 

He was transferred to HDU after doctors removed his tracheostomy and he gradually started...

He was transferred to HDU after doctors removed his tracheostomy and he gradually started...

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And then they moved me [from ICU] but I said I don't want to go. I don't want, I felt safe there, I don't want to be moved. Oh but they take that out [tracheotomy] about a day before, I'm dying for them to take it out because I can't speak, they'll be wishing they put it back in because then I won't shut up me because I'm very talkative. Anyway we're having a laugh and family's getting a bit happy because I'm talking then so they move me down to HDU but I still can't get out of bed. They're hoisting me out of bed to sit me down, which I showed you on that [ICU diary]. And I'm feeling a bit, a bit better, have me good days and then have days when I'm sick and I can't eat but I'm supposed to eat. If I don't eat I don't get better but I can't eat, I want to but I know I'm panicking again thinking no, no what's going to happen here, I'm not eating. But when you can't you can't, but the doctor wants you to eat. They all want you eat. Anyway I feel better couple a days, I'm eating again.

 

Doctors agreed to discharge him after talking to his wife, and he surprised his children by...

Doctors agreed to discharge him after talking to his wife, and he surprised his children by...

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Anyway I said is that, my Mrs come up and said, "What's up with him now?" He said, "Well his lungs are alright but we'd like to keep him in a bit longer." She said, "What for?" So she kicks in saying, no what you can do to his leg he can go home, this is at nine o'clock in morning, she's going mad, she wants me home. So they get me up, doctor says, "well if he can walk upstairs, can he come home or not?"  

So physiotherapy, she were a nice woman, takes me to these stairs and I knew I'd get up the stairs. It was alright you know, it were hard but I got up. So she decided that you can go out, doctor come, lung doctor yeah I'll see you in hospital outpatients. Leg doctor come, "Well, well." She says, "You can do that at home can't you? Yeah, we'll have a nurse come and see you bathe your leg at home." She stayed all day till five o'clock, they signed everything and I was out, she were determined to get me because there's nowt they could do for me plus it were making me ill, iller being with other people when I've you know. 

Me brother come picking me up in car. The Mrs phoned him up, we were out, well the porter with wheelchair, crutches to car, car to here, walk down the path with crutches but didn't tell the kids, you know, I'm coming home. So when they opened door, "What you doing Dad?" They were very surprised with everybody so it were right funny oh you know, because nobody had tell them I'm coming home, well I didn't know myself did I?

 

It took him four months before he could walk without a stick but he slowly regained mobility and...

It took him four months before he could walk without a stick but he slowly regained mobility and...

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So I get home, I can't, I'm on crutches. I'm on the couch. In a week I'd put half a stone on, one week, went to hospital outpatients, they couldn't believe it. I said I told you she'd [wife] feed me up. 

Yeah I put on half a stone with all the food and everything and then went back to the hospital. And the Doctor couldn't believe I put so much weight on so quick and back home again but I was using a stick then, after two weeks, instead, a walking stick so I weren't too bad. I still couldn't go out of the house, only to get air and that. But with all me family round me, I felt that I would feel better and better every day, eating loads and I just felt better than being in hospital. I know I couldn't come out of hospital but when I could, she [wife] got me out. And the nurse come every day, changing me leg and so that were alright and after about four week, Christmas day it were yeah, I went out Christmas day to the pub with family like.  

And I started, I felt better and better. I had me stick for about three month, no four month, before I could walk without the stick. And I kept going back to hospital every three weeks, well every week, then every three week, then every month. And I just kept putting more and more weight and they couldn't believe it. And in about three month, I put three stone on. So I were like eleven and now I'm nearly, it's eleven month now, and I'm nearly twelve stone.

 

He looks better than before his illness because he has stopped smoking, gained weight and eats...

He looks better than before his illness because he has stopped smoking, gained weight and eats...

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I think everybody says I look better now than I ever have done because I don't smoke anymore you see. I'm a weight I've never been before, put a lot of weight on, cheeks and you know, because I've always been ten stone four since I left school. And I'm forty what am I now, forty-six now, I know I don't look it but I am. And I've been ten stone four since I left school. All my life, I eat and drink beer and never put weight on. Now I'm nearing twelve stone. I've not smoked for nearly twelve month and that's probably to do with it because I'm eating a lot more.  

So I've just put weight on and I have pictures I could show you, what I used to look like to see this, and everybody says I look better than ever. In fact last night I were at pub and one of the lad's went, "Are you coming this way?" He's a Pakistani lad who's a mate of mine, known me years. He said, "I've just been watching you up here, I don't believe how you now look now," how I used to look. He said, "You looking better now the way, then when you even..." That's what people say to me. I look better, funny that innit?  

That's good, and you gave up smoking, you are eating very healthily you mentioned before the interview, you're eating lots of fresh fruit and veg?

And fruit, yeah, well she [wife], basically I eat all the proper stuff now.

 

He and his family treated each other differently for a while but they have now gone back to normal.

He and his family treated each other differently for a while but they have now gone back to normal.

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So since you've been in intensive care and come back home, you said you'd got a second chance of living life. Are you living life in any different way or has your life been changed in any way or not really? 

I think it were at first, but now I'm back to, I forget, unless I look at my diary I forget because you don't want to think about it. And I can see me reading that [diary] and I start crying. I think I'm back just normal, but I still like think oh I'm lucky, so back to arguing with the Mrs like used to and shouting at kids again and you know. I'll never shout at them. You say, " Oh I'll never have an argument with you again if I get out of hospital", like you say, but you're back to like. She'll shout at me when she wouldn't do when I come out, you know. It's everybody's pussy footing around me and being nice and now it's, "Oh give over dad." And yeah or it's back to normality. I think everybody wants to forget that part because no, no it weren't a nice part of our life with the, we'd already put up with a load of it with her [wife's] breast cancer. Then we go through this with me, so I think our family's had enough of hospitals and dramas and so we just try act normal as though nothing's happened. 

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