So my Pinot Grigio had to wait until the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Within 20 minutes of my mother’s correct diagnosis, she was whisked away from the homely comforts of the Cottage Hospital in another ambulance en route for Cheltenham Hospital A & E.
By the time I got outside, I was reeling. It was cold, dark and something told me it was about to snow. I leant against the side of my mother’s Subaru Impreza. I was in shock. How could I have missed it? The Stroke Post had landed on my Facebook page umpteen times and I had dutifully passed it on to friends and family every time.
F FACE DROOPING
A ARM WEAKNESS
S SPEECH DIFFICULTY
T TIME TO DIAL 999
How could I have not realised? A friend of mine had popped in on the Saturday morning and having seen my mother asked ‘Do you think she has had a little stroke?’ Instead of engaging my deprived of sleep brain I confidently replied ‘No! The Doctor says she is suffering from exhaustion’. Our exchange of conversation was bouncing around my head. How could I have been so stupid?
I looked at my mobile phone. I hadn’t charged it. I should have been back at my mother’s home drinking Pinot Grigio and charging my phone. Instead, I had a 25-minute drive ahead of me. A short hop for those living on the Mainland, but for and Islander like me, the equivalent of driving from one end of Jersey to the other. I needed to phone people and had a flat battery. Fortunately, my half-brother arrived. Same father, different mothers. I gave him a list of phone calls to make on my behalf, then I blubbed on his shoulder for a few minutes whilst he said all the right things before I got in the car and headed for Cheltenham.
I had only been coming over for the weekend so I had only had only bought one of the CDs I had been given for Christmas with me to play in my mother’s car. The Wreckers – Way Back Home. As it turns out, a very appropriate title. I had never actually heard of The Wreckers before, but I became word perfect, as I would be doing the same journey every day for three weeks.
I arrived in Cheltenham about half an hour before my mother. It turned out that the ambulance had gone on the scenic, less bumpy route, before depositing her at A & E. It was about 7.00 p.m. It was probably just as well I arrived early, as I had to go in search of copious amounts of change for the car park. By about 10.00p.m. I was still standing by my mother’s trolley in the corridor, waiting for her to be seen but, as soon as she was, it was all systems go.
She was scanned, x-rayed, hooked up to a drip, poked and prodded, but most importantly chivvied along by the fantastic staff. It must be essential to have a sense of humour when working in A & E. The place was littered with the vomiting – quite a few of whom had drunk the barrel dry – the bleeding and those having trouble breathing. The tearful, the angry and my poor old mum, who was just plain terrified.
Next … Cold Dark Night