Last summer, John sustained severe injuries after a fall. He was rushed to Southmead Hospital by a team of wonderful paramedics and after initial tests in Resus, he was admitted into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
I was greeted by the kindest NHS staff, one of whom was ICU consultant Dr Tim Hooper, and taken into a quiet room to discuss John’s situation. The team spoke to me with such comforting words, slowly and gently explaining everything in detail.
Given the situation, we decided together what we thought would be best and indeed what John himself would have wanted to happen. It was decided not to operate and to let John die naturally. The team would do all they could to ensure he would be kept comfortable and didn’t suffer in any way.
Sadly, John never regained consciousness and he was treated as if he was wide awake. The staff were so sweet and respectful to us both.
I was so grateful for everything from the mugs of tea and endless biscuits, to the bedside recliner with pillows and blankets that meant I could remain with John throughout the night. There was a tablet in the ICU bay and a sweet nurse put on Smooth Radio which was a comfort as it quietly played in the background throughout the day and night. When I hear the music played on that station now, I’m immediately whisked back to my time with John and all the special memories.
John had signed up to be an organ donor and I was introduced to two wonderful transplant nurses, who I will always remember with such fondness. The retrieval team came in but there was only a four-hour window to retrieve his organs once the ventilator was removed and John lived past this deadline. However, it’s comforting to know that tissue samples, including from his eyes, will be used to help others in need.
John died with me holding his hand and having stayed by his bedside for five days and nights. Due to Covid restrictions, our family wasn’t able to be with John during that time. However, the ward staff gave two of our daughters, both of whom have children, memory boxes filled with children’s books about bereavement and hand knitted teddies. The transplant nurse Vicky even took John’s handprint and our eldest daughter has had the image shrunk down and incorporated into a bracelet.
All these special touches have made John’s passing so much easier for the whole family to bear and the wonderful memory boxes will be treasured forever.
I’m passionate about giving back as much as I can to show my deepest appreciation for the incredible love and care that was shown to both John and me during his time in the hospital. That’s why I chose to donate John’s funeral collection to the ICU and will continue to make donations each year.
Rather than look back with great sadness, I have love and warmth in my heart for all those kind, gentle, selfless and dedicated NHS staff that made John’s final days so special.