I don't think I have ever experienced a more stressful week before. With the exception of Daniel's brush with Meningitis, but even that - after the space of a week - we knew he was on the mend and would survive. I am physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted, but I'm plowing on, because it's all you can do, isn't it?
He was moved to a hospital in Staffordshire on Friday night, and I assumed my standard initial stance of being frozen. Rooted to the spot. What did I do? Did I stay? Did I go? Who would look after the children? Nothing is ever easy and straightforward when you have four children. It's such a big ask for anyone. Saturday came and went and I received updates from my parents. Sunday morning I received a message from them which sent me into a tailspin and made my decision for me. He was in Intensive Care. I phoned a friend, asked her if she would mind the children, and Mr G and I went down to Stoke.
It was a shock to see him. He was in an induced coma. He was wearing a 'halo' neckbrace - which is a shocking thing to see, it's screwed into his skull. We spoke to him, we told him who had been asking for him, and all the messages. Wearing grim faces but using happy voices we joked with him - because that's the sort of person my brother is. I didn't want to risk him being able to hear us, and us being maudlin. We had to take it in turns to see him, as it's strictly two to the bed.
We went down again on Tuesday, our cousin came with Mr G and I. I actually walked past him. I didn't recognise him. I'm not going to go into too many details here, because my brother is a very private person, but he is in a critical condition. Attempts to wake him from the coma haven't been successful as he's panicking too much - which - anyone would, I suppose. They are bringing him round but having to sedate him almost immediately. He's having difficulty breathing, despite being on life support, and he's picked up an infection from the local hospital (surprise surprise!) and also has a chest infection.
Mr G went to see him yesterday with my Uncle. I came down with a horrendous cold on Tuesday night, and although I am desperate to be there with him, for once I had to use common sense. The last thing he, any other patient, or the staff need is someone being selfish and bringing germs onto the ward. Especially that ward. Mr G said he looked better - visibly.
I need to be closer. I know that. And we've scoured the internet for ways to do this, but sadly everything boils down to money, doesn't it? We checked the weather to see if it was suitable for camping, but the temperatures forecast for that area are very low. Which of course they will be, pushing the end of October. If we had someone to mind the children, I would sleep in the car. But I can't expect the kids to. We checked hotel and B&B prices, and for 6 of us maybe we could manage a day? Which defeats the purpose. We checked caravan sites that had statics for hire in Staffordshire, to no avail. So we cast our net further, Shropshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Wrexham, Denbighshire, but nothing that we can afford. Because it's that most wonderful time of the year, isn't it? Half term! The prices have skyrocketed. We even looked into hiring a campervan but the most we could afford it for is two or three days. And then wouldn't be able to afford to eat, or put fuel into it...
Tomorrow, we all go down. Do tagged visiting/sitting in the car with the kids. Then between the two visiting periods we're going to take Mum and Dad out for Sunday Lunch somewhere, so they get something proper to eat. They've been surviving on sandwiches and crisps and cakes for a week now. I think it would lift their spirits to see the grandkids too.
Everyone has been so kind, the staff are wonderful, the other people in their shared house have all pulled together and supported each other. One family in particular have been especially kind to my parents. Buying takeaway and insisting that they choose food, and paying for them too. Making meals and insisting they eat with them. I said I would make a curry and take it down on Sunday. The family are Muslim, so only eat Halal meat, but they said a vegetable curry would be most welcome. So I'm going to make a start on a Vegetable Jalfrezi, and make some Pilau rice. Need to nip to Tesco for a few spices that I'm out of. That will keep my mind occupied for a few hours, plus I will feel better knowing that I'm repaying a kindness made to my parents. Everyone there is in the same boat, with a loved one in Intensive Care.
My sister in law has a couple of days off work next week, so she is going to have the children while we visit. This means we will be closer and may even be able to stay for both visiting sessions. Adam isn't happy as he will miss the local fair, but he's only 7. He doesn't really understand the gravity of what is going on. We've promised them that we will do something to make it up to them, take them for a day out when things are settled down.
Friends have been amazing. Both his friends and my friends. I've had more dealings with his friends to be honest, my phone has been beeping, with text messages, Facebook messages, to the point that I could gladly throw it through a window. But I won't. Because I'm so grateful that people are thinking about him and they care. It's getting to the end of each day, and wanting to sit down and speak to my friends, but I just don't have the time or energy. I have people praying for him, of all religions. His name is on healing lists in Spiritualist churches. Someone I don't know only through a shared group contacted me asking for his photo and name and she and a colleague are practising Reiki on him, another friend is also doing this for him.
So that is the update. No news is good news, they say. Keep him and my parents in your thoughts and prayers. It's going to be a long road...