So after posting my last blog, and thinking we were out of the woods, I received a phone call from the doctor looking after my dad in hospital.
She told me that after 5 days of antibiotics, the infection wasn't appearing to be clearing, and that I should come and visit my dad, if possible, as he wasn't expected to make a recovery. She told me they usually expect, in cases like this, for life to continue for anywhere from 2 days to one week.
Again, I sobbed, but having gone through this all just a few days previously, I managed to reign in my desire for that G&T, and pull myself together. My brother and sister-in-law were amazing, immediately offering to take Nel, so that Sam could accompany me down to Dorset.
Sam was straight on the phone to the car hire companies, reserving a fast car, so that we didn't need to plod down in one of our big, slow vans. A couple of hours later, Nel was with her Auntie and Uncle, and of course, cousin / best mate, Jay, and Sam was enjoying razzing a Mercedes S Class down the A74.
We didn't wan't to stay with my mum, as we felt that it was too high risk with Corona Virus, and I think her live in carer also felt the same way.
My best friend from growing up, Abbey, used to live in Dorchetser, at her dad's house. When we were teenagers, we spent many a drunken night at the house. Her dad was always "the cool dad" who would let us do what we wanted (within reason), so naturally we'd always congregate at his house to drink Lambrini / dance / be silly /talk about boys / snog boys etc. He's since moved away, and is in the process of selling the house. It's currently laying empty, waiting for everything to be finalised, except for a few odd boxes and a mattress. Him and Abbey very kindly offered me it as a place to stay during all this. Something that was so unbelievably appreciated, when it's hard for me to ask anyone else with Corona Virus and lockdown still being present.
Sam and I arrived about midnight after the long drive down. Sam had done all the driving, so went straight to the mattress to sleep. I went for a walk around, opening all the doors to the boxed up rooms, remembering the countless nights I'd spent here through my teens and well into my mid twenties.
I grew up in a tiny village, with no one else my own age, so when the teenage years rolled round, spending any time in that village was "so boring" for me. So many evenings after school, and nearly every weekend was spent at Abbey's Dad's house. It was almost my second home, and the Rowe's always felt like my second family. Whenever I'd have boy drama, I'd end up at Manor Road. If I'd had an argument with my parents, I'd end up at Manor Road. Something about it just always felt like "home". Being there again, seeing it all boxed up, and knowing that out of all our friends, I was going to be the last one to say here, just felt so sad. I went upstairs and sat on the floor in Abbey's old bedroom, and cried. Having that, combined with the fact my dad was dying in the hospital up the road, I just suddenly felt a surge of fear that I guess meant now I was a proper grown up? I know I'm a married 31 year old woman with a baby, but something about everything I was suddenly being made to feel was so overwhelming. The reality of my dad actually dying, the fact that my mum has dementia to the point she'll regularly deny that I'm her daughter...I guess I had a moment of feeling a bit orphaned?
I woke up the next morning and called the hospital for an update. The nurse told me he was much the same, and that they were going to try and discharge him soon. I was so confused. A doctor had called me less than 24 hours prior, telling me he was dying. I asked to speak with a doctor, who clarified that he was in fact still dying, however, because he had signed a Do Not Resuscitate form, there was not much a hospital could do for him, and that the plan was to send him home from hospital with a care package, and multiple visits a day from Marie Curie nurses.
I decided to go and visit my mum, before going onto the ward, so we drove back to our family house. We had to wear face masks and gloves, and when she came to the door, she looked even more confused. We went inside, and spent some time with her, looking through old photos of us as a family, when my brother and I were little. She didn't really understand what she was looking at though, and just kept pointing at photos of me and saying "oh who's that lovely little baby?".
We took her on a walk around the village, but quite quickly she wanted to go home, saying she was tired. By this time, I needed to return to Dorchester hospital to see dad, which mum didn't understand, and her body language was just so sad. She completely withdrew, asking why everyone has to leave her. This is why I hate this social distancing world we're in. Of course I hugged her and comforted her, but I had to keep my ask and gloves on. All I wanted to do was properly hug her, sit down with her on the sofa, and kiss her head, stroke her hands, make her feel secure, like she has to me all those times over the years where I've felt anxious and upset. It kills me that my parents have always protected me, loved me and done anything and everything for me, and now this is the time where they need us, and we can't be there to the level that we should be. I can't stay overnight, and make sure she's OK in the morning, or help tuck her up in bed, and tell her to go to sleep, and that I'll be there when she wakes up. But all I can do is remind myself that this isn't normal life, I'm doing everything I can for them both right now.
I went to the hospital, and entered the ward. I was given PPE from the nurses and taken to my dad's bedside. He was tired. He looked weak. His eyes were full of sleep, and his skin looked paler than ever. I sat beside him, and took his hand, as he looked up at me. I, of course, was smiling, however, it dawned on me that he didn't know this, due to the face mask I had to wear. I spoke to him, not sure if I was allowed to get too close, and he brightened up hearing my voice. He smiled and told me it was good to see me, and thanked me for coming down. His breathing was laboured. He grasped my hand, held my gaze, and I told him I loved him. A tear rolled down his cheek. My dad never cries. I've never seen him cry. I just got a feeling in my gut that he knew he was going to die, even though my brother and I had agreed not to tell him this...he just knew. I sat with him for the next hour and a half. He spent much of it silent, sometimes turning to me to ask me when he was getting to go home. He seemed tired so I left him to have a rest, and went to the beach for a walk with Sam.
The next morning, I told Sam to go back to Scotland to be with Nel. I really appreciated him driving me down, but I was getting the feeling dad may be a while yet before he passes. I walked to the hospital to give dad his lunch, and he seemed a bit more alert, asking why he wasn't being taken home yet.
A nurse from the palliative care team came to speak with me, and told me he was to be taken home the next day, where a team of Marie Curie nurses would begin their daily visits, to help make dad as comfortable as possible. I told her he seemed better today, and she explained that it's quite common to see dying people "rally" when death was soon, especially if they felt that they had some unfinished business. I'm wondering, if for dad, that was to get back to his own home, and not die in a room full of other people. But then part of me is wondering if he's just doing a classic Albert Carter, where he just flirts with the idea of death, makes everyone scared, and then makes a full recovery.
Saying that, all the signs are pointed in that direction. He's increasingly confused, his appetite is diminishing, he's sleeping more and going to the toilet less. And I imagine they don't discharge patients from hospital with a full Marie Curie care package lightly. I guess only time will tell.