Wow, just when life is ticking over nicely something comes along to pull the rug from under your feet and to stop you feeling too complacent. I got the call last week that everyone who lives away from their family dreads. "Call me urgently, it's about mum" In my family this means business.
Mum had not been seem all day and when someone went to check they had found her collapsed on the toilet. Looking at the fact that the breakfast things were still out, she must have been there since morning. My sister arrived at the same time as the paramedics and she was taken to the nearby hospital where she was admitted, having had a very large bleed into her brain. It was critical and I had to come.
It's amazing how quickly you can do things! Ian had booked my flight for the following morning and I had packed my hand luggage in half an hour. We had to leave at 5.00a.m. the following morning and I worked hard through the night to get my head round the fact that my mum was dying and I might not make it in time. Sleep was never really going to be an option.
At the airport the following day I noticed that red eyes mean you get given plenty of space in the waiting room! I made my way from Gatwick to Heathrow, seeing the first arrivals for the Olympic Games at Terminal 4 in a slightly surreal atmosphere. From the airport I got a lift to the hospital. She was in the acute stroke unit and we were given unlimited visiting (not a good sign). As I arrived I saw the red eyes and worried looks of my brother and sister and then saw a person in the bed who had some features of my mother but really wasn't her. She was wired up to a drip as she was unable to swallow and was being given fluids, but that was it. The bleed had affected over one third of her brain and was untreatable. We spent the weekend waiting.
On Monday, the doctors returned from the weekend, surprised to find that she was still there with relatively stable vital signs, although she had a chest infection. At this point they started a more active treatment approach and treated her with antibiotics and started to feed her through a naso-gastric tube. By Tuesday she was a little more responsive. She is able to follow us with her eyes, hold hands and move her left arm and hand. The worst of it however is that I think she is able to understand a reasonable amount of what is going on but can't speak or communicate in any other way. I really at this stage don't know what I wish for and what is possible.
Arriving in London in the countdown to the Olympic Games, in an unplanned way, with just hand luggage is a really unsettling experience. Today I booked a flight home in a weeks time and I will go whatever happens, even if I have to return again quickly.