The Last Six Months is a moving story about my mother Kay.
After going into hospital for a routine hip operation, and whilst still there, six months later she sadly died after a series of tragic events.
Years ago when we went into hospital, it never would have entered our minds that things could go wrong, we had total trust in the hands of the people that were healing us.
Nowadays, that is not the case, as frequently we hear about mistakes, and malpractice within our hospitals.
I have a blog which has given people a voice to write down their own experiences, some of which have also been published in this book
I hope that after reading The Last Six Months you will see the importance of writing everything down when going into hospital.
Notwithstanding, the majority of dedicated doctors, nurses, and hospital staff in our hospitals do a fantastic job in treating, and caring for the sick. But we also have the bad apples in our health care which tarnish the excellent work that they do.
I first started to write these notes purely as a reminder of all the things that happened to my mother throughout the first few weeks when she arrived in hospital for her operation.
Each day before I started work I would enter onto my computer all my notes from the previous day. I never thought that I would still be writing six months later. My notes have become an up-to-date diary of my mother and how her condition deteriorated during this terrible, and tragic course of events. It has also allowed me to capture all the memories of our time together, the laughs, the tears, the precious words spoken, and I captured it all.
I published my mother’s notes onto a blog, and then extracts of my mother’s story was published in the Mail on Sunday in June 2011.
I had no idea what would have happened next. I had over one thousand hits on my blog and emails of hundreds of people telling me of their own tragic stories. I knew then that writing my notes was for a reason.
I want to bring an awareness to everyone to write everything down when you or your loved one go into hospital, as it’s so easy to forget.
I hope from reading my mother’s story, and also the stories of 50 other’s (taken from my blog) you can see what is still happening in our hospitals, and it’s so important that these stories are shown.
I have two sisters both of whom underwent their own personal traumas, all of us suffered emotionally during the time our mother was in hospital. All three of us did as much as we could have. But these are my notes, my own personal account of my thoughts and feelings.
There are times in everyone’s life when something constructive is born
Out of Adversity
When things seem so bad that you’ve got to grab
your fate by the shoulders and shake it
My two sisters, Camille, and Vanessa. Together we pulled each other through the last six months of our mother’s time in hospital.
My two sons Darren and Paul, my rocks, and my life.
Paul Callow. Without his foresight advising me to make notes, the last six months of my mother’s life would never have been documented.
Steven Katz. He took the stress out of those six months when I was going back and forth to hospital from work, and the amount of time I had off.
My very dear friends, Joceyne, Marsha, Jackie, and Jo, who kept me going, and kept me sane. Soul mates forever.
And finally to all you brave and wonderful people, who took the time to write to me about your own heartbreaking experiences. Your support and kind words gave me the inspiration to publish your stories on my blog, and in my book.
Together we can make a difference
Strength in Numbers
“The Day Before”
18th July 2007: One beautiful warm summer evening Mum took my two sisters and me out for dinner as she was going into hospital the following day for her hip operation. She had her favorite meal, minted lamb and roast potatoes with a glass of white wine, and was talking and laughing about how she would be able to run the marathon after her operation. She added that she was looking forward to being able to do all the things she used to do such as driving her car, going shopping and just being independent. Oh, how she hated having to rely on anyone! We had such a lovely time that night, unaware that this would be the last meal all four of us would have together.
My father Eddie died 13 years ago but mum was always a very independent lady. She had worked in retail sales all her life up until her early 70s and always took pride in her appearance. Smart, well groomed, attractive and even now at the age of 84 looked a good 10 years younger.
She always loved working but eventually had to stop because of her age, this was something which greatly upset her.
Mum had been in pain for about 18 months with her hip so she hardly went out anymore. She had a hip replacement operation nearly 20 years ago but she is now having problems again. In a hip replacement operation the damaged ball and socket are removed and they are replaced with an artificial ball and socket made of metal, plastic or ceramic. They say that hip replacements wear out eventually over a period of about 10 – 20 years.
Basically the ball now keeps on coming out of its socket and it has to be replaced. So mum will be having revision hip replacement surgery.
Every Saturday I used to take mum out shopping until she found it too painful to walk. Mum was also very frightened to walk in case she fell over as she had done so many times before.
I remember one day she had fallen down at her home, unfortunately she had refused to wear the personal alarm which I had arranged for her and she had been on the floor for hours on her own until I arrived after phoning her with no answer. She had locked the door from the inside with a chain so my son Paul had to break the door down. Oh how she wanted to get her independence back.
19th July: I took the day off work with the intention of driving mum to the hospital and arrived at her home about 10 in the morning. She had already packed her bag and had made sure that her home was looking spick and span as she would never leave it in a mess. Mum was quite nervous at the thought of the operation but she had undergone operations in the past and knew what to expect. She was not frightened of hospitals as unfortunately my father had been quite an ill man all through their married life. Mum had been used to going back and forth to hospitals over the years to visit him when he was not well. She learnt to drive when my sisters and I were very small which made it easier for her to travel to and from the hospital with us.
We arrived at the hospital about midday and made our way to the Orthopaedics Ward which looked quite dismal. The nurse came over to mum and asked her to get undressed and pop onto bed to wait for her consultant Mr Shah to arrive. We did not have to wait long for him to arrive and after introducing himself to me he went through the procedure of the operation.
Mum smiled and said, “I know I am in good hands.”
The Hip Operation
20th July: Mum’s hip operation was done today. Thank goodness it’s over. I could not wait till 5.30 when I finish at work to go and see mum as I work full time.
When my sisters and I arrived at the hospital mum was quite sleepy but seemed in good spirits. She told us that she had an x-ray soon after the operation and the doctors had been very pleased with how the operation had gone. The next days that followed mum’s progress seems quite slow and really not much news to report.
23rd July: Mum is being given physiotherapy but she seems to be in a lot of pain and now she is getting quite frustrated at her slow progress. My sisters and I make sure that we see her every day after work and bring her food and bottled water. Mum does not like the food in the hospital, nor would I, it reminds me of school dinners but that’s going back years and years ago. She has her mobile phone thank goodness so we speak often in the day, when I arrive I charge the phone so she can always be in contact with us.
28th July: Thank goodness it’s Saturday, at least we won’t have to rush from work and we can be with mum all day. When I ask the nurses how mum is they say she is fine but I am becoming quite concerned as she doesn’t seem to be improving so I will speak to the doctor’s after the weekend. Mum is speaking to the other patients in the ward so at least it’s not too boring for her, but the magazines and books we have brought she has not looked at, she said she cannot put her mind on them.
1st August: Mum has now been in hospital for just under two weeks. My manager Paul at work has suggested I write regularly in a diary so I can keep a check on how she is progressing each day. How clever and what a good idea.
I am very concerned as mum is being given physiotherapy regularly but she is in constant pain and cannot walk yet so she is being given painkillers, mum also seems quite breathless. I will speak to her consultant tomorrow.
“Spoken to the consultant”
2nd August: I have spoken to Mum’s consultant and told him how worried my sisters and I are about mum’s progress. I asked him why is she still in so much pain nearly two weeks after her operation. Surely she should be up and walking around. He did not have any answers for me and said that she was due to have a second x-ray this evening so we shall see what it reveals.
Filed under: Uncategorized, care, Elderly, Hospital, NHS