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Interview 34

Age at interview: 37
Brief Outline: Was admitted to intensive care in 2001 because of acute pancreatitis. Spent 46 days in intensive care and 1 month in general ward. Needed to have surgery and was transferred to another hospital. Spent 4 weeks in hospital before surgery, 30 days in intensive care and 3 months in general ward. Overall length of stay in 2 hospitals was 7 months.
Background: Occupation: gardener. Marital status: single. Number of children: no children. Ethnic background: White British.

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He now values spending more time with family and the memories they share and create together.

He now values spending more time with family and the memories they share and create together.

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Has it made you look at life differently?  

Yeah, yeah. I mean it's, I'm not saying it's a horrible thing to say but like my parents, I know they're getting older so I spend quite a bit of time with my family because all of them, they live locally anyway, but now I'll go out of my way to spend more time with them, my nieces and nephews just because I know that at any time something could happen to someone and they'll never be there. So yeah, I think the biggest thing is spending more time with the people you love and care with, just because if anything happens you can't get that back. So, as I say, it doesn't bother me and I just don't go out socially, I'd rather spend more time with the people, my family than thinking, oh yes I must save lots of money to go on a certain holiday because going on that holiday, the memories will only be for me, whereas if I spend it with the time, the time with the people I care for, we've all got memories. So that's the way I think of it and money doesn't matter too much to me at all. It's nice to have it but then I sort of, rather than spend on myself, I'd rather spend on my nieces and nephews and all, like that so, I think that's the biggest thing that's changed me, is that it can happen to anyone anytime and you'll never get that back.  

So it's better, I know people say you know you can start to live your life from now on and splash out and whatever but I don't really sort of see it that way. I'm just grateful that I've been given that chance to spend more time with the people I care for. 

 

After his first stay in an ICU he was transferred to another hospital for surgery and ended up...

After his first stay in an ICU he was transferred to another hospital for surgery and ended up...

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Basically it was the third of November two thousand and one, I'd gone outside just to pop down and get a paper and one of the neighbours noticed that I was looking a bit pale and I was having problems actually breathing. I went over to my Mum and Dad's and they spoke to the doctor's, went to the doctor's and that's when they called me an ambulance and I went to A and E at the hospital, thinking well I can't see what the problem is which, with the shortness of breath. I did have pain in my stomach as well and basically they all, must have been four, five doctor's around me, which was very confusing at the time and they then just transferred me to a normal ward.

And then I think I actually recall when I was on the trolley being taken to Intensive Care, that I was going there, but again that could be just my memory playing tricks. And then the next thing I remember is actually coming round about thirty odd days into my stay, being told that I was in Intensive Care. That was the actual first time but later on in February two thousand and two I went, I'd already been transferred to another hospital by then. I had more idea that I was going to Intensive Care because I'd been transferred up there for an operation. 

The whole period it was from, as I say, from November the third straight through to the next year to June.

For the operation? 

Yeah well I was, as I say, the first hospital I spent two and a half months until I got transferred up to the second hospital a month before I had the operation and then three months in the ward. So the actual overall stay was seven and a half months.

 

Knowing that people had died in intensive care made him realise how ill patients in ICU really...

Knowing that people had died in intensive care made him realise how ill patients in ICU really...

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And you remember people dying while you were in intensive care. What kind of an impact did that have?  

I mean even though you don't actually see them because the curtains are drawn, you know something's happening just because of the activity among people going in there than normally would happen. And then I remember the actual relatives obviously coming in, you can hear the crying. I mean I was asked did I want to move but because you think you don't really fully understand what's going on, your emotional state, you're not sure. But you do feel, even though you think well that could have been me there, you're heart pours out to the relatives that had to have done that because I then know it really hits you that, that could have been your family there because of, you know, because of what I've done or why I was in there.  

But again, I've mentioned this before on you know a conference where I've done a speech, whereas the nurses were very supportive and absolutely brilliant and sort of come and make sure you're alright. And I think it just hits it home more that, yes, this happens. 

 

He was looking forward to going home but was transferred to another hospital for an operation.

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He was looking forward to going home but was transferred to another hospital for an operation.

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Well basically what happened, first time I went in Intensive Care, I came out, I think it was the eighteenth of December and I went to just a general ward and I was thinking right, once I'm out of Intensive Care, that's it. I'll sort of be home by Christmas, which obviously I wasn't. I stayed for about a month on a general ward where they were getting my mobility back. I was going up and down the actual ward, just with a Zimmer Frame thinking right, that's the worst bit over, you know, I'm back on the road to recovery. 

But they were actually, they still hadn't determined whether to do an operation. Then when they decided 'yes' we need an operation. There wasn't an ICU bed available in the hospital, which is why I then got transferred up to another hospital to the HDU unit. And that was just to really stabilize me. 

Then I got transferred to a normal ward because they thought well we don't have to operate just yet. Again, as I say, I went up eighteenth of January up to the new hospital so for about a month I was HDU, normal ward, back to HDU and then approximately on the eighteenth of February, I had the operation which obviously, all I recall on the HDU, was a central line being put in. And that was it. And then again waking up in Intensive Care unit.

Did you go through any low points while'.?

Yeah I mean you, the thing is, as I say, once you're leaving Intensive Care you think well I'm out of there. I'll be home you know by the end of the month and then they say, 'no perhaps you need an operation', perhaps you need that, and then get transferred from my local hospital up to London, which again puts the worry in me that I'll then want people to come up and sort of come all that way to come and see me.
 

 

He was in intensive care twice and, on both occasions, found out from family, friends and medical...

He was in intensive care twice and, on both occasions, found out from family, friends and medical...

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But I got more from, I suppose, my family were coming in and just obviously, not telling me the whole story, but just telling me bits, how close to death I'd come. You know what the first week, how bad the first week had been, but I think, I mean I don't know if it's done on purpose but they [medical staff] obviously can't tell you everything straight away, one, because you wouldn't be able to take it in and two, because obviously they don't want to stress you out. 

They need to keep you calm and relaxed, so really it was piece... as I say the first time it was not knowing why I was there, what had happened to me, what procedures had been carried out, whereas the second time, it was a lot easier to, not understand, but I knew what I'd been through. And I knew why various things had happened. I knew why I'd had dreams or hallucinations and because I'd had them previously, I mean it didn't make it any easier, I still thought a lot of them were real and I had to discuss that with family and friends for them to say, no this had happened, that had happened, again through talking with the nurses once I'd got the tracheostomy, the tube had been taken out, obviously I wouldn't say I was asking lots of questions but you can generally pick things up from when the handover of nurses. You can, again you could glean a bit of information from that. So it was more of a long process rather than someone telling you in a day, "Right this is what's happened to you over the past month or so." So it was really just piecing it together as time went on, because obviously the problem is you're lying there. You've got so much time to think, you can sort of try and play it through in your mind but most of the images you had were images that had come from dreams that weren't real at all anyway. So I think it was more trying to sort them out, thinking well did that really happen, rather than thinking oh what have I actually been through.

 

Going from ICU to a ward was a shock, but was glad to be recovering.

Going from ICU to a ward was a shock, but was glad to be recovering.

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I mean basically it is a complete shock to go from Intensive Care to the general ward. In Intensive Care you get one to one care, you know someone's always there. To go straight to the general ward, you're not really told about, that there is other people, about their care's are there just as much as yours that are needed. There's, not saying a shortage of nurses, but obviously you have to wait, you have to press the buzzer to get them. You do get frustrated because of what you've been used to. You're not getting people coming to you as quick as before So the that is sort of a big issue, I don't know how that can be dealt with but as I say the main thing is, I know it probably doesn't work always, but you should be glad that you're actually out of Intensive Care because generally that's a good sign, going on to a general ward that you're on your way home sometime, now alright it doesn't always work out like that but generally you should be glad because you're actually on the road to recovery, to get out of Intensive Care.

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