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Dying alone with no family around the evils of corona virus

17 Apr 2020 at 18:10hrs | Views
Narrated to Dr Masimba Mavaza 

My wife spent 10 days dying.She was 44 and she had worked for NHS here in England for over ten years. She adored, her husband and we had established a strong family life. without her we feel life is a lot less worth living.

Jane was her name. She arrived home around seven in the evening tired as always. I had prepared super for the family. As she opened the door I gave her a hug and a pet on her bum. My son who is eleven giggled shyly and sped off to the table. We sat on the table ready to dig in the Sadza and beef stew I had prepared. I noticed Jane was not herself. I looked at her and I saw she was sweating. She signalled to me to give her water. She could not drink it. She then said Soko Incan not breathe. I forgot about food. I risked 999 within ten minutes the crew had arrived. By then Jane was slumped down on the floor. The house was filled with an unknown sense of fear. I did not hear what was being said. But I noticed the crew putting on face masks and stretchered my wife to the ambulance. They told me I can not go with her to the hospital. I felt like I felt like something has been taken from me. I never new that was the last time I saw my wife. I stood by the door way as I saw the ambulance drive off with the blue lights flashing in my eyes. The whole night I could not sleep. I woke up in the morning and drove straight to the hospital. At the gate it was manned by police officers. It was not usual normally it will be guards on these places. The police were not compromising. They told me to go home and that the hospital will contact me. I felt dizzy and my legs could not even summon much power to even step on the pedals. I don't know how I managed but I made my way home.
My son was by the door showering me with questions is mum going to live?Is she having Corona? When is she coming home?

The routine started the hospital called around twelve midnight. My wife was very ill. She was now being assisted to breathe.

My wife had never been bedridden before. She only went to hospital to treat others but now tables had changed. The nurse on the other side of the phone said my wife had stopped eating then started slipping in and out of consciousness. Soon she stopped drinking.

For 10 days my son and I sat by the table holding hands. No relative could come to see us we are in Lockdown. How i wished to be near my wife at the time of her need moistening her lips with Vaseline. How I wished to be by her bedside telling her how much I loved her. We have been together for twenty years this was not a farewell I expected.

Because it was Corona no visitations we're allowed. This is the time I felt the importance of being together. I cherished the days I was together with my wife. We had plans to fly to Zimbabwe for her sisters wedding in August. This is now a dream.
Every phone call would make me jump with anxiety. You don't know what to do. You will be relying on the messages from hospital. You will have no choice but to trust the person you do not know you had never seen. Messages would be clicking in

Evening Hospital report - as per the  consultant :
1. Oxygen increased to 60%. Still on high pressure support from ventilation.
2. Cardiovascular system (heart) support required.
3. Kidney function not great.
4. Gastro - NG feeding nill by mouth.
5. Therefore, not yet ready to come off ventilation.
6. Illness can take  10 - 14 weeks on a ventilator. Will have to see progress over the few days.
7. One lung collapsed.

Slowly her breathing changed, became more ragged.
During the last few days, the tips of her fingers turned blue. Her skin smelled different. Her breath gradually became a rasp, then a rattle.

It sounded awful the way the nurse reported. We were sure she was in pain but we felt completely useless powerless and vulnerable. The doctor could not reassure us. He organs were shutting down, one bit at a time. We had not, of course, talked about any of plans of after death with my wife.We had no plans for this, no idea of what she might have wanted.  Human life is like mist it just disappear just like that.
The doctor said he could give her something that would make him at least sound better, but it would really be more for us than for my wife.

This day the doctor called he said things were very bad. He then said  My job,” the doctor said, “is about prolonging people's lives. Anything I give to your wife now would simply be prolonging her death.”
When it finally came, death was quite sudden, and absolutely unmistakable. But those 10 days were hard.
Death is foreign to us now; most of us do not know what it looks, sounds and smells like. We certainly don't like talking about it.   But the call came my wife was gone. She died alone in a hospital surrounded by strangers.

Death is death but it is different if you die alone and your loved ones are powerless they can not come and see you. They don't even know your last words.

Death became medicalised; a whole lot of taboos grew up around it, but there is never a closure if one dies in this way.

Part of me strongly believes my wife is still alive. There has been no shortage of reports on the question.
Maybe we need to focus on the dying person's needs and wishes, and delivered by competent, specially trained staff in (where possible) the place chosen by the patient – which for most people is, generally, hospital. Would any one go to hospital knowing that you will never come again.

I looked at my son and I did not know how to tell him. I simply said to him son God has done his will.   He looked at me and said God's will is great when is mum coming home. My tears ran down my cheeks.
Nobody could come to comfort me. I had to be strong for my son.
I had really wanted my wife to be given a great send off. But that was not to be. Morgues are full and she had to be buried. The rules were very clear no more than five people at the burial. And we had to maintain the social distance.

It's not just about the place,
“The quality of individual  burial need has to be right, every time, because we only have one chance to bury our loved ones. It's about recognising that every situation is different; that communication is crucial; that both the patient and their family have to be involved. It can't become a box-ticking exercise.
Dying, death and bereavement need to be seen not as purely medical events, It's a truism, obviously, but the one certainty in life is that we'll die. Everything else about our death, though, is uncertain. So we have to identify what's important to people, and make sure it happens. Have proper conversations, and make proper plans.” These plans will never work in this Corona virus era.

 I have to struggle with my emotions. I do not feel my wife has been given a befitting sent off. My heart bleeds but the trauma my son has gone through and will go through in all his life.
My son penned these words to his friends. I cried un controllably when I read the words.
It was one cold winter night on that day mum got sick. She was taken from home with promise to come back. My dad told me days later that mum was not coming back. She died at the place she had spent most of time in. Hospital. There is no one like mother to me. I know there is no one like mother to me. Dear God  in heaven please look down upon me and my dad.

Dying this time is indeed painful and wounding it destroys the respect given to our dead.

Vazet2000@yahoo.co.uk

This is a true story told to Dr MAVAZA by the husband of the deceased. He requested not to be mentioned until he could accept his situation.
Source - Dr Masimba Mavaza
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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