As we all know, planning is a sure fire way for things to go awry and this week is no exception. We have invitations for dinner with friends on Friday and Saturday. They are offering to come and collect us and then cook us delicious food, give us wine and generally allow us to relax and enjoy their company. Alas, life takes over. We receive a phone call from one of Mr Mason’s parents’ neighbours and he says Mr Mason Snr has been taken to hospital in an ambulance having collapsed in the garden. Mrs Mason Snr confirms this although she rarely talks on the phone. Mrs Mason Snr has not left the house in approximately 3 years since Mr Mason Snr collapsed similarly.
The first thing we do is grab phones, a change of clothing and toiletries, Dog and his comestibles and make ready to leave. It is about 3pm when we depart and the traffic is fairly light. On arrival, the kind neighbour leaves and we try and pick over the detail of what has actually happened. There is not much information. Mrs Mason Snr makes strenuous attempts to find reasons she cannot come to the hospital with us. She cannot find shoes, she cannot find a coat, her socks are too thick and finally she cannot find keys. This is the biggest issue as Mr Mason Snr has keys on him but, if we leave, we may not be able to get back in. Finally, they are found. Mr Mason Jnr brings the car back down the drive and I help his mother shuffle to the car. She is bemused, confused and frightened. She gets into the car and cannot shut the door, do her seatbelt up or think straight. We are on hand to help. Arriving at the hospital, I circumvent the reception at the Emergency Department by asking a Doctor where Emergency Majors is. This is where he is being
held treated. We find him in a cubicle and, as luck would have it, the Doctor is with him. She treats him with great dignity and respect as he recounts what happened. He felt a tightness in his chest and difficulty breathing but he felt dizzy, too. The tightness in the chest went but he felt dizzy for a long time and was sick in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. The Doctor says she wants to do more tests on his heart ‘just in case’.
Mr Mason Snr is keen to tell us about his ambulance ride. He feels it is one of the worst drives he has ever had and he felt more comfortable in an armoured vehicle. When he was sick, the paramedic asked him if it was her driving that had done it. Clearly they had had a good rapport with their patient. A nurse comes to do another trace of his heart and we take keys from him, including his car keys which, given he hasn’t driven for months, seems an odd thing to keep in the pocket. I suspect it is habit. As we wait for the next stage in his treatment, a patient is brought into the next cubicle and clearly is suffering from some kind of dementia as she repeats over and over “Is it on time? Is it on time?” The staff try to reassure her but she suddenly shouts “I want to go to bed!” before going back to her previous repetitions. On being examined, she shouts out again “He’s hurting me!” and sounds so upset and frightened but there are lots of murmurings and apologies from the staff tending to her.
Mr Mason Snr is quickly moved into another ward where he can have a proper bed and within seconds, a nurse arrives with food (and a choice of 3 desserts!) and asks if he would like a cup of tea. Aside, she asks if he can manage a proper cup. The tea arrives in a mug and the man opposite begins to complain loudly that he wanted a mug but they gave him a small cup and it’s not fair! He spends the rest of the time we are at the hospital glaring at us and making harrumphing noises. As Mr Mason Snr bites into his sandwich, I take a photograph and email it to Miss and Master Mason so they won’t be too alarmed. At 7pm we leave and try to exit the hospital. Easier than it sounds. Apparently, once through the doors it is impossible to exit through the same doors and means we have to circumnavigate the corridors with me supporting Mrs Mason Snr who is clearly having trouble assimilating all that she sees and hears after 3 years indoors. She shuffles along, grasping my arm and, not having thought it through, I have given her my lymphoedema arm which is gripped soundly causing not a little pain. I pass her over to Mr Mason and he strides along with her tripping along in his wake. I keep saying “Hold onto your mother!” as though she may escape our clutches but really to stop her falling headlong and ending up in casualty.
Eventually we find our way out of the hospital and back to the car. They are going to check Mr Mason Snr’s blood in the middle of the night to see if there is any unusual activity so we decide to stay the night as we can’t leave Mrs Mason Jnr alone in the house. All plans aborted for now.