My name is Steve Parrott, I'm 43 years old, and am a front line manager with the British Royal Mail. I Lost my beloved wife Jayne, on 7th June 2002. She was 40 years old, and had an aneurysm, a week earlier on 31st May. We'd been together nearly 18 years, and were less than a month away from our 17th anniversary. We lived for each other and our 14 year old son Robert (Bob).
A few weeks earlier Jayne and I had talked about our years together, and agreed that we we'd grown even closer as the years had gone on. She said that we were in fact soul mates. I adored her completely, valued every minute we spent together. I hated going away from home, and took literally hundreds of photos of her over the years. Probably the best photo I took was just six weeks before she died.
We'd spent two years tracing our family history, and had ironically searched many Church grave yards, and cemeteries. It was on one of these occasions that she told me how she wished to be buried if she went first. She even said that she didn't want a photo attaching to the head stone. On another occasion as we passed a memorial shop, she'd pointed out the type of memorial she'd like!
We'd lived all our lives in the same house that I'd owned for three years before we met. In the Spring of 2002, we'd decided that it was time to move, and found a larger and newer house. We were so excited, and made an offer that was accepted. We made the offer on a Tuesday, and she had the aneurysm burst on the Friday. Life can be very cruel, and hugely ironic!..to have buried her in the same Cemetery, that we'd searched looking for ancestors takes some adjusting to. To have talked about our love and closeness, and excitedly chosen a new home together days before she died, just compounds the grief and loss many times over.
I work in a Royal Mail Sorting Office, and arrived home about 1pm on 31st May 2002. Jayne was sat down holding her head and said "I nearly rang you at work". I asked why, and she said that she'd got the most awful headache, and was feeling sick. She said that it must be her brain. Jayne did get headaches on a regular basis, and on some occasions would say that it must be a tumour. After taking paracetamol or Ibuprofen it would ease and go though. The upshot was then, that on the day I got home, I wasn't unduly concerned, as I thought it was "just another headache".
Jayne was five foot three tall and weighed less than 8 stones (112 pounds). She was a petite woman, smoked about 20 to 30 cigarettes a day, didn't always sleep well, didn't have bags of energy, but worked hard in a local department store. I just put the headaches down to tiredness, and stress. I think she did too, and certainly think that if she really thought she had a tumour, she'd have gone to see a Doctor. I suggested that she take a couple of pain relief tablets, and have a lay down on the sofa. She only lay down for a few seconds before being vomiting excessively. I called 999 for an ambulance, and she was rushed to Grimsby Hospital (The Diana Princess of Wales Hospital). She was conscious but retching at frequent intervals.
A doctor checked her vital signs, and reflexes. The Doctor said "On a scale of one to ten, how bad is the pain?". Jayne replied instantly "Ten". Jayne lay on the hospital trolley obviously in great pain, as I stood by not knowing quite what was happening, but at the same time presuming that it was just a worse headache than normal. At one point, she sat up on the hospital trolley and shouted "The pain, the pain, I can't take any more!" - these were the last words she ever spoke. I nearly collapsed in shock, and confusion. The Doctors gave her a pain killing injection, and decided to move her to an observation ward. I now know that one of the classic signs of an aneurysm is not only the severe headache like none you've ever had before, but also a feeling of having been hit round the back of the head. Jayne had the headache, but not the feeling of being clouted over the head. She'd been changing some bed sheets at home when the headache came on, and was able to tell me at home that she'd not banged her head on any thing.
Having been taken to the observation ward she was barely conscious. The nursing staff asked her if she could crawl off the trolley on to the bed, or if she wanted to be slid across via a special board. On the first occasion she didn't answer, when I asked her, she nodded that she wished to be slid across over the board and on to the bed. The nursing staff slid her over and she landed on the bed with quite a jolt!..even the nursing staff, looked surprised at their own apparent lack of care. I said to Jayne "You obviously don't want to talk right now, I'll just sit here with you". She nodded her head again. I sat with her for a two to three hours, whilst the nursing staff came in from time to time and rubbed her breast bone to make sure that she wasn't in a coma.
During the early evening the nurses told me that they were going to give Jayne a CT scan of her brain, but the CT people would need to come in to the hospital first. Eventually she was taken down for the scan, then she went to intensive care, and I was shown to a family room. I was told that she'd had a bleed on her brain, and that they were going to e-mail the scan pictures to Hull Royal Infirmary, so that they could decide whether she should be moved to the Neuro ward at Hull. Eventually I was informed that they would be moving her to Hull, and after what seemed like an eternity whilst they decided who and how many staff would travel in the Ambulance from Grimsby to Hull, they eventually loaded her to an Ambulance at around midnight. I went home and after drinking most of a bottle of wine, and ringing the Neuro ward at Hull, I cried my self to sleep.
On the Saturday morning I hired a car (not having been a car owner for many years) and drove over the Humber Bridge to Hull Royal Infirmary. The shock at the ventilator, and all the tubes, and syringes everywhere, made my legs buckle from under me, and I virtually collapsed on the floor. I was able to stay overnight in a small room at the hospital, and sat with Jayne for around 18 to 20 hours a day. I was told that operating on her would not be possible until such time as she be well enough to be able to sit up in bed and drink a cup of tea. I spent countless hours holding her, talking in her ears, and crying over her. She was sedated through out, and wasn't able to make any response to me.
Many of you that read this will no doubt be familiar with the excellent level of care on a specialist Neurological ward, and Hull was no exception. Jayne had a nurse by her bed 24 hours a day constantly adjusting things, and taking readings from all the various displays and monitors. I constantly wanted to know what was happening, and what all the different monitors were saying about her condition. Jayne had a drain in her skull now, and this was draining blood stained fluid from the ventricles. Over the first few days the staff were careful not to give me any indication either way of what her chances were. I eventually learned that neuro care is a very difficult area, and that a prognosis at an early stage is not something that can easily be given.
Eye dilation, and pain stimulation checks were done frequently day and night. Over the Saturday, Sunday and Monday the checks showed good reaction to pain in both legs, and her left arm. There wasn't any reaction in her right arm though, and her left eye didn't respond to light stimulation. Jayne's brother ( a former nurse) came to visit on the Tuesday. After his visit he was full of optimism, and as a consequence I became more optimistic at her chances. On the Tuesday she was given a further CT scan, whilst I prayed in the Hospital Chapel. Later, I was told that she'd had a further bleed, and that things were quite serious. They spoke the words, but I just didn't want to believe what they were saying, and basically convinced my self that she'd pull through, although she would have some element of disability.
On the Wednesday, the reactions to pain stimulation weren't so good, but later they got better again. The nurse said that even he was surprised at this! Again I was full of hope and optimism. On the Thursday I was told that there wasn't any hope, the blood clot had grown so large that it was causing swelling in other parts of her brain. They suggested that I needed to be ready to "let her go". I broke down once again, unable to believe what I was hearing. I'd been up, then I'd been down, I'd been up again, then I'd had hope, then I'd had all hope shattered.
On one visit to the Chapel I'd met the Hospital Chaplain, and begged to know what the Bible says about love. He'd share a passage with me that was enormously helpful, and in part I may have on her memorial. Any one who has loved, and lost should read Corinthians 1, Chapter 13. They might find it as useful to them as I did to me. Jayne had not been Baptised as a child. The Chaplain was able to carry out a lovely, but very emotional Baptism at her bed side. He used Holy oil that had been blessed by the Archbishop of York earlier in the year. Jayne and I were going to get married again (this time in a Church) on our 20 anniversary. The Chaplain was able to bless our marriage, as she lay their in bed.
Jayne's last night on earth was to be the Thursday night. She was moved off the ward and in to side room with windows that over looked the City of Hull. That night Fiona ( a nurse ) was on the night shift. She moved another hospital bed in to the same room, so that I could be with Jayne through the night. But for some inexplicable reason she changed her mind, and allowed me to lay along side Jayne on her bed through out the night. I shall for ever be grateful to Fiona, and her allowing me to hold me dear wife for those last few hours. Jayne was still sedated, and wasn't responding to any pain stimulation now. I put her arm across me, and some times I held her. For a while I even slept with her, just as I done for nearly every night for 18 years.
In the morning the Doctors asked if I was ready to let her go. I said that I wasn't, and just needed a little more time with her. As the Friday morning drew on. I knew that I had to let her go, and join her father who she'd always missed, but never knew, as well as her half brother who'd she'd lost 18 months earlier. Her father died when Jayne was only 18 months old.
About mid-day on Friday they with drew the ventilator tube from Jayne which was by now the only method that she was able to breath. Over a few minutes her heart slowed, and slowed, until it stopped. I held her tightly, and seconds after her heart stopped, I had the most amazing experience, that I can now only put down to feeling Jayne's very soul leave her body. I said to her "I can feel you going love, I can feel you." After she'd gone, I sat on the edge of her bed, looked at her still body, and knew that it wasn't Jayne any more. I knew that what ever had made Jayne the person she was, had now left her. I actually smiled, at her for the first time in a week, in the knowledge that she was in a better place, as well as the knowledge that our bond had been so great that I'd felt some thing so wonderful in those last few minutes as she left this world.
I feel comfortable in sharing the above, but don't feel that I want to share my personal experience at the moment she passed on (although I have shared it with close family and friends). It was such a personal experience, and I truly believe that it was intended for me and my hope for the future.
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