Well Dad is now home! He came home Friday night around 8pm. Almost a month in hospital. Carolyn, my sister, and my Mum went to collect him. The nursing staff were wonderful. As he left, Dali one of the nurses (she is from India I think), took Dad's face in her hands, looked deeply into his eyes and said, 'Now look after yourself. I will pray for you.' Vinh the vietnamese nurse told him to 'listen to your body,' and as he walked out to the nurse's station, one of them said, 'well he's going home.' They all clapped and hugged him. They hugged Mum and Carolyn too.
Southend hospital, Edmund Stone Ward have looked after him well. And Mr Carr and his team are miracle workers.
Carolyn said that just getting out of the car and walking to the front door (no more than a few yards) left him feeling exhausted.Later when I spoke to Dad on the 'phone, he said he had wanted to get into the garden to see his fish, but just didn't have the energy. He made it to his armchair, put his feet up and drank a cup of tea. He said how wonderful it was to be home. The fish can wait another day. He loves those fish!
His first night was a bit difficult – getting used to the bag isn't going to be a picnic, and the community nursing team did not bring him a stand for his night bag. But God how I am moved by his determination. He rigged a stand for himself using a coat hanger and Gods knows what else. Unfortunately he spent his first night from 2.30am in his armchair as his bag leaked, but he managed to sort it out by himself and waited until morning to tell my Mum. Mum is struggling with it; she is so used to Dad doing everything and used to him buzzing about the place, pottering here and there and making her cups of tea. Luckily her Crohns is not too bad and the warmer weather has killed off the flu-like bugs that excaberate her COPD. But she is finding it hard. Social services are coming in and offering to wash him (he's having none of that! 'I'm a very proud man Elaine!'He gets Mum to help him instead) but they are also sorting his meals out for him lunch time. The district nurse comes twice a day to check his bag and give him his injections; in fact everytime I telephone, there's someone there!
Carolyn has been a star -buying extra bedding for the spare room in case the first night's experience repeats itself but fingers crossed, his second night was a breeze. He slept well and the bag held out.
Tonight (Sunday) I chatted with him on the 'phone and he siad he was tired. His voice sounded tired -kind of croaky, but he was in good spirits. He said he feels frustrated by his physical weakness (he has lost a stone and a half – 21lbs in weight) and wishes he could magic his old energy levels back. I reassured him it will happen but he has to be patient, patient with himself and kind to himself too. I told him his body has been through a hugely traumatic experience and to respect his need to recover slowly and thoroughly. But I can understand his frustration too – he likes to be active. I only hope he will do as Vinh says though and listen to what his body is telling him. We have a tendency in the West to ignore ourselves and live in our heads. I don't think Dad can afford to do that.
The msot amazing thing is, my Dad is still with us.
I am going to see him at the weekend. Can't wait.