When I arrived at my parents, I pulled up outside the conservatory. My parents had chairs facing out onto the driveway, Dad on the left, Mum on the right. As usual Dad was getting up out of his chair as soon as I pulled in. Mum on the other hand was sitting still in her chair trying to smile and look normal whilst desperately trying to cover up the terror I knew she felt inside.
I jumped out of the car and bounced into the conservatory, a cheery whirl of good mornings and reassurance that this was just blood tests and nothing to worry about.
After checking that Dad had everything he wanted with him, we headed out to the car.
The drive to the hospital is no more than 20 minutes but my Dad being the way he is, we normally leave 45 minutes travel time in case of traffic. This means I don’t have to drive fast and my Dad and I can chat about anything that is bothering him, or completely ignore it all together which is what we did in this case. We chatted about cars and motorbikes as we headed through to the hospital, avoiding any mention of where we were going or why we were going there.
Arriving at the Oncology Department we were lucky to find a disabled space less than 20 yards from the front door. We parked up and went through the rigmarole of locking the car on both the driver and passenger side as there is something wrong with the central locking. As my Dad checked all the doors to make sure I had done things correctly, I pulled my phone out of my back pocket to check there was no messages from work.
There were no messages from work, there was however 5 missed calls with the dialling code of the town the hospital was based in. As we walked into the Oncology clinic for my Dad to get his blood taken before seeing the consultant, I called back the strange number.
It was the number for the ward I had been in the night before. I explained who I was and the person on the other end of the phone advised that the doctor had trying to get in touch. Apologising I explained I had been driving but was now able to answer any calls. I was told to expect a call back shortly.
My father had not quite caught on to the phone calls, probably thinking it was something from work. We entered the clinic and just as I was checking Dad in with the nurses for his blood test my phone rang. I waved my Dad forward to the desk as I answered the phone to the doctor who had signed me out of the ward.
The doctor explained to me that my blood test had come back positive for the enzyme which indicates a heart attack. He asked where I was as they wanted me back in the ward. I explained I was only downstairs in the oncology department with my Dad and would happily come back to the ward once I had taken him home after his appointment. This however was not how things work when you have a heart attack it seems. The doctor told me that I was absolutely not to drive my father home and was to come up to the ward as soon as possible. In fact, scratch that, I was to go straight to CCU. I agreed with the doctor that I would be there shortly and hung up the phone.
My Dad was sitting quietly in one of the chairs in the clinic waiting on his blood test. I went over and sat with him just as the Oncologist passed through the clinic. She smiled and said she would try to get to us a bit earlier as we had arrived so early. This pleased my Dad that she knew who he was and had acknowledged us. One blood test later and we were back out in the waiting room, freeing up the seats for those coming in for their chemotherapy treatment.
Within the next 5 minutes or so the Oncologist came to get us and took us into her office at the back end of a small corridor. After the first few questions regarding my Dad’s health and any further problems that had been noticed, she wanted to examine him to check on his enlarged lymph glands. I took this opportunity to step out of the office and get out my phone.
First call was to my OH to let him know that the test had been positive and that I was to go to CCU. I asked him to get my daughter to pack a back again with pyjamas, slippers, my kindle, charger etc. I am an avaricious reader and I knew a real paper book would only last me a few hours. We arranged that he would bring through the bag and also collect my father after the appointment and take him home. I would then head for CCU and see what was next for me. Now that was organised, it was back to the Oncologist’s office.
My Dad’s lymph nodes had gotten worse and the Oncologist was now advising that the original watch and wait scenario was no longer an option. Chemotherapy was next however, due to my Dad’s pre-existing conditions, there was no way they could use standard chemo, they would need to use a milder version which needed another blood test to check that it would be effective.
There was also the consideration to be given that the chemotherapy may reduce the quality of my Dad’s life and this needed to be taken into consideration when making the decision whether to go forward with chemo or not.
My Dad was not able to take all this in during the appointment, one of the reasons I now attended them with him. He knew that when he asked later I would explain what was happening and what his options were. I have to say at that moment I was thankful for that small mercy. Having to leave him when we left the appointment would be difficult enough to explain, the rest I could leave until I returned.
My OH texted to say he was in the car park, unfortunately the wrong car park so I excused myself again and headed outside.
Phoning my OH to find out where he was, I followed a bus up the hill. Thankfully he could see the bus so I told him to drive past it and he would see me heading back down the hill. He got parked close to my car and we put my bag in the back and agreed he would wait in the waiting area until the appointment was over.
Back to the Oncologist who had now gotten all the paraphernalia together for us and we were almost done. As she left the office to check on the printer in the other room I quickly explained to my Dad that I had an appointment to go to that I couldn’t change so my OH was waiting to take him home. He wasn’t quite sure what was happening but he presumed it was for work and assured me he was more than capable of driving himself home.
Dad driving home on the busy A9 was not an option so I spun him a story about needing the car for when I was done and that all would be well. He wasn’t overly happy that I didn’t seem to want him to drive himself home but eventually agreed and all was sorted.
We left the appointment and headed out to meet up with my OH. As we walked out of the clinic I met an old friend I hadn’t seen for a few years who was working there. With a quick catch up I asked her what and where was CCU. Seemingly it was in the main building and was the Coronary Care Unit. I said goodbye and headed out to send my Dad home with my OH.
After saying goodbye and assuring everyone I would be home soon, I moved the car to another car park and headed for CCU. Coronary Care Unit, maybe this wasn’t quite as simple as I had originally thought.