Thursday, 7 January 2016

My Dad 12.10.1933 - 07.01.2007

Arthur Edwin Williamson 12.10.1933 - 07.01.2007  

Today marks 9 years since my Dad passed away. I can't believe life is going this quickly, it just backs up my idea of having my blog even more as it's somewhere to remember my memories, the memories with my children, for them to read one day [assuming they will want to] and I can't tell you how much I wish I had some sort of diary from my Dad so that I could read it now. The unfortunate fact is that its not guaranteed that parents will be around to tell their children stories when they're older or pass stories on to grandchildren who will then tell their children. I was a young 17 years old when my Dad passed away losing his fight to cancer, 39 days before my 18th birthday to be exact. People at the time said how well I'd coped with it all - I didn't 'cope', I just didn't show you the confusion, pain and falling apart within my head. I just carried on.

I think one person that really noticed I wasn't actually 'ok' was my brother James because after my Dad passed away I couldn't sleep, there's only one thing that would help me fall asleep and that was watching friends DVD on repeat all night. James noticed this and got me the entire box set with all the seasons of Friends on DVD along with a card which I've kept safe in my bedside drawer. He doesn't know that, I read it before Christmas and that's why I bought him a photo frame and printed a photo I know that he didn't have of him and my dad being silly in Ireland on our last holiday together. The card and present really helped me.

Planning a wedding knowing that a big part of my day will be missing is really upsetting and I'm trying to think of ways that I can 'include him' but at the same time not take away from the happiness of the occasion or make it too 'errrr?!'. So I've got a beautiful charm to go on my bridal bouquet with a photo of him on. My brother James will be walking me down the aisle on behalf of my Dad.

My Dad first got poorly one very early morning in November a few years before he passed away. He had an aneurysm, bleed to the brain which resulted in a terrible headache. My brother happened to be awake at the time and an ambulance was called. After about 12 hours in A&E in Watford hospital - where I might add he wasn't even given a pillow, laying there with dark glasses on they finally found out what was wrong and a place at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neuroscience was found for him. We followed his ambulance up there and a lot of my family come. He was put into a coma and they prepared him to do brain surgery, he had an operation to fit 3 platinum coils in his brain to stop the bleed which was successful. I don't remember every detail, we were all tired but I do remember our family being taken into a room to be given the news that they had found a tumour on his brain.

After my mums initial cry, she realised that actually that could be something else! My dad had epilepsy which was caused by a mass [collection of arteries all tangled together like a ball of elastic bands] which caused him to have fits - we called this his birthmark on the brain. She told them about this and they had another look - that's what it was! phew.

While in intensive care we played various songs to my Dad, coldplay 'fix you' is one that sticks in my brain to this day and if it comes on I cant help but sing it the loudest i can sounding like a cat being strangled, seriously, i was not gifted a singing voice. My Dad recovered well from his brain surgery, we visited every day which meant sixth form was a bit, ok, massive failure for me. But I still, to this day don't care, I got to spend time with my Dad which was more important to me. Sarah, my sister [one of them] visited every day too, from first thing in the morning and I remember I was sat with him whilst he was having staples removed from his head, she walked in and although his brain hadn't fully recovered he remembered her and looked at me and rolled his eyes as if to say "she's here again". For someone who I had about a million fights with when I was growing up, she does actually have a heart of gold [she doesn't read my blog so I can say something nice about her that's fine... haha].
My dad had an awful time once transferred back to Watford hospital including getting c-diff [a hospital superbug] and spending Christmas night on the floor - after major brain surgery!!! My mum discharged him and nursed him back to health, if she hadn't of done that I don't think he would of lived as long as he did! My mum was amazing, much stronger than I could ever be in that situation I think. She got him back up on his feet, taught him things he needed to learn over again. Their bedroom was in the front room for a while, Looking back on it, she really did a lot which at the time being so young and naive I guess I just didn't appreciate it all. Thank you Mum if you ever read this because without you, I don't know what my Dad would have done.
The horrible news come when my Dad, who had been losing his voice for some time and putting off the hospital appointments again and again, was diagnosed with throat cancer. I remember having this feeling of guilt, just before his bleed to the brain I was thinking "my life is so boring, nothing ever happens"... I wish nothing ever happened, that boring life was pretty good. So here we went again. Hospitals. My Dad was incredibly brave and had surgery again. This time he knew it was coming.

Laryngectomy is the partial or complete surgical removal of the larynx. This surgery meant that my Dad could no longer speak or breathe in the way that he had been used to for many many years. Imagine suddenly not being able to speak, to move your lips and nothing come out, it must of been so hard for him and to not be able to breath normally, to cough would feel different, eating must of changed too? Unthinkable and so brave to have not let on how scared he must of been. [He had a tracheotomy and a stoma]. Eventually he did have like a button like of thing that he breathed in and pressed then a robot like voice came out but it wasn't seeming easy to use so lip-reading,post it notes and notepads were the way forward.

I just googled it an apparently it takes two to three weeks for the tissues of the throat to heal, I always thought it was longer but perhaps it just felt longer. During that time the laryngectomee cannot swallow food and is tube fed instead. My dad needed to find a new way of communication. Patients are encouraged to use artificially humidified air in order to keep the stoma from drying out. I've seen people since my Dad passed away with what looked like a 'bib' on but I know what it actually is, its a light cloth used to keep the area clean and keep unwanted particles from accidentally entering the lungs.
Again, that Mum of mine, nursed him back to heath and helped him to recover. My dad had radiation and for someone who was claustrophobic to have to use this mask and be pinned down under it must of been his nightmare.

Cutting an even longer story short after the cancer was gone...... it came back and there was nothing that could be done. My mum was told first, she was asked to tell my dad that he was now terminally ill and that there was nothing more that they could do for him. she refused and said for the doctor to tell him. The doctor was by the sounds of it, excuse my language, a bitch. I understand having to tell someone that they are dying is probably one of the hardest of conversations to have but surely as a doctor you should have some training in that situation!? No, she told my dad to just get his affairs in order and left the room for someone else to talk to him.. what... the... hell.
He returned home and told us that he was and I quote, "a dead man walking"... My dad was, like del boy and his sense of humour didn't leave him. I didn't really understand at the time, how much time it would be, how bad it actually really was, how bad was terminal!? sounds stupid but I didn't believe my Dad was actually going to die. The next time someone says to me "atleast you got to say goodbye" ... Yes I did, I guess. Thanks for that but having someone just die quickly, altho terrible must be just as bad having someone die a long and painful death right in front of your eyes not being able to help them?!

My mum looked after my Dad at home, so he got to pass away surrounded by people that loved him. I held one of his hands.

My dad would have found the funny side to the fact that my mum started crying and said he's gone... then he started breathing again, once a joker! always a joker.

They said that he would never wake up again because he had a syringe driver with morphine going into him so he wasn't in too much pain but just before he died he opened his eyes looked up and said 'hello'.
My Dad with his radiation mask. Look how proud he looked. He asked me to take this photo.
10:23pm on 7th January is a time and date I will never forget.

I love my Dad and I wish I could show him everything that's changed, children that have been born into our family, weddings that have happened, my children, I'd ask him to do the 'whoopsie daisy drive me crazy' song with Isabelle to see if she liked it too, I'd like to go to a bootsale one more time with him "I can honestly say what a load of sh!t", I'd like to see what he thought of my new phone! (Dad you can get ebay on phones now!? Crazy right!?).

I'm not going on the school run this afternoon, I'm staying at home having cuddles with Isabelle and Micheal is going instead.  

I'm not going to turn this into an anti smoking post but god help my children if they ever put a cigarette in their mouths. Smoking kills. It's not cool and it upsets me seeing so many teenagers that haven't a clue walking home from school smoking.

Basically just go pick up the phone, call your parents and tell them you love them whilst you can.

what time did I come in?

Mary-Kate x Brilliant blog posts on

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