Wednesday, 3 August 2011

My Dad Passed Away on Saturday 23rd July

Dad - Christmas 2005
It is with a heavy heart that I have to blog that my poor Dad, Ron Lawrence, passed away on Saturday 23rd July.

We had been away on holiday, getting back on Saturday 16th July and on the Sunday 17th, Mum said that Dad seemed a little unwell but they were monitoring his vital signs up at Silver Birches and these weren't giving any concern. However, on the Monday afternoon at about 3.30pm, Mum called to say that he had been taken over to A&E as his temperature had started to go up. I met Mum up at the hospital. He'd had a chest x-ray but it was inconclusive as to whether it was a chest infection or pneumonia. However, they were giving him a strong antibiotic in any case. He was moved surprisingly quickly up to Toronto ward at Chase Farm hospital in Enfield.

Mum and Dad's Wedding - 16th March 1957. Dad aged 26
On Tuesday 19th July, I decided to only be in work in the morning and got up there first at 2pm; Mum and my brother were going to get up there slightly later. I'd not long got there when a doctor asked to speak to me. Dad had not responded to the antibiotics at all which basically meant that his immune system couldn't get over the infection and that this was probably going to be his final illness. I must add ..... she wasn't as brutal as I've put it here! She was actually very nice and I am paraphrasing what she said! This was an enormous shock.
On Tuesday evening at 11.30pm, the hospital phoned me as Dad's oxygen levels had got very low. However, they said we didn't need to come up straight away but just to come in first thing on Wednesday morning. So, for the rest of the week, my Mum, my brother Paul and I went up the hospital every day from about 8am in the morning until about 7.30 - 8.00pm just to sit with Dad and talk to him and be with him. He did rouse a few times. On either Tuesday or Wednesday (but I think it was Wednesday) he roused and I could actually see that he recognised me; he has only done so from time to time over the past 6 months to a year. I can't begin to tell you what this meant to me.

The nurses and doctors on Toronto ward were brilliant. Nothing was too much trouble. They took a lot of care over making sure Dad was comfortable, turning him to prevent sores and regularly changing him. If we saw Dad screw his face up, a possible sign of pain, they were quick to give him a dose of painkillers. We also had several good discussions with the palliative care nurse so we were fully involved in what was going on and all the options at every step of the way. They also looked after us by bringing cups of tea. I can't begin to say how fantastic they all were.

Me (2 years old), Dad (30 years old), my brother Paul (3 weeks) in 1961
On Saturday 23rd July, we got into the hospital as usual at just after 8am and Dad's breathing was much more laboured. We played some music for him and I had taken in some smelly massage oil after a brilliant suggestion from a nurse and I was putting this on his arms and shoulders. At about 9am, I was mopping his brow because he seemed a little clammy and I can't say what caught my attention, but I alerted Mum and Paul that I thought something was different; his breathing had definitely taken on a different quality to it. We were able to tell him we loved him and then he took a couple of slower breaths, paused, then took another breath ...... and then he passed away at about 9.10am. It was very peaceful. I hope he heard us. We were obviously all very upset but I am so glad we were with him at the end.

It has all happened so quickly that it hasn't really sunk it, even now. Although Dad had Alzheimer's, he was still mobile and able to feed himself. He only needed assistance with toileting, washing and getting dressed. His biggest problem was that his ability to communicate was impaired which let to him getting frustrated and aggressive, things that he wasn't when he was well.

However, we just have to take some comfort that he is at peace now and has escaped from the horrible, horrible disease that is Alzheimer's. His funeral is this coming Friday 5th August. We love you Dad and will miss you. Rest in peace Dad.

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