Diary of a Life-changing Event

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Part 2

It was during the seven-week stay in hospital, having had an emergency Angioplasty with Stents done, that my mother sadly passed away from the same condition. I wasn't informed initially as I was deemed too ill at the time and also subsequently wasn't able to attend the funeral. That has bugged me to this day.

On my return home I saw my GP who gave me a whole 'suitcase' load of medication - that's what it felt like anyway - then I was told to rest for a few weeks.

I need to put in a bit of a background history here in order to make sense of what happened in the next two years and the effect events had on my life and condition.

I was living at the time in rented accommodation in the grounds of a country manor house, very nice location. My landlord/lady were elderly but spritely folk who went off in their caravan for six months of the year, at the time aged 75 and 78. For reference I will call them Jim and Joan. Our relationship, though legally based on tenant and landlord, was also a personal friendship. We holidayed together on occasions and we looked out for each other in all manner of things. While I was in hospital they looked after my pooch, two cats and home, and even gave me a rent break.

After being back home for a few weeks we noticed Joan had got a dry hacking cough, and after a bit of a battle finally persuaded her to go to the doctors to have it checked. She was sent for an x-ray and was to go back to the doctors the following week. Well the news started to look a bit bleak. A shadow was showing on the right lung. I took her to the Chest clinic in Birmingham where she saw a superb consultant, a really nice, kind guy who took her step by step through the next lot of tests and procedures. To cut this bit a little short, she was diagnosed with lung cancer, devastating news as it had spread to the lymph glands and basically treatment was, well, a forlorn hope really. She started a course of very intense chemotherapy, which made her ill with all the usual side effects. Jim was, as one can imagine devastated as well, knowing he was probably going to lose his wife of 56 years! I dealt with Joan's 'nursing' needs at home after some basic instruction from the cancer nurse from the local hospice. The cancer spread to her brain and in the end we just couldn't keep her at home any longer and she was admitted to the hospice. The strain of looking after her and Jim was having a marked effect on my own health and it was a social worker who stepped in and said enough was enough. Three days after being admitted to the hospice Joan passed away. From date of diagnosis to day of death was six months exactly. As an aside, she had never smoked in her life!!

I arranged and dealt with the funeral for Joan, as Jim's health, almost inevitably, took a turn for the worse. He had prostate cancer which had been in remission for seven years but it suddenly decided to flare up again. His specialist told me that it was out of control, and that he gave Jim 12 months at most. His medication was changed and to add to the problems dementia was also setting in. I still managed to keep him at home at this stage, doing his cooking, cleaning and so on. I was organising and making sure he took his medication at the right time, in the right quantity. This was to lead to 18 months of what I can only describe as sheer hell for me.

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