9. Week Four – Home Coming

Adam videos calls me the morning, he doesn’t have any oxygen on, I ask him why, he tells me that the doctors have been round and want to see how he goes without any oxygen and he has more bloods taken, if all is well, he can come home. This is amazing news to hear, I call Adam’s mum with the news, blinking heck I need to clean out the fridge.

I’m looking at the dates of things ‘best before’ 4th April, its now 20th April, these things could crawl out the fridge themselves. I reluctantly open the salad draw I’m putting wilted salad leaves, squashy tomatoes, saggy sweet peppers, floppy spring onions into the food recycling bag, I touch the cucumber, errrh. I always moan that supermarkets put cucumbers into plastic wrap, I am so glad they do at this moment, its horrible to touch, there’s a liquid I can see on the inside of the plastic, on the plus side I can’t smell a thing. The fridge gets a wipe down, I need some shopping, I’ve already tried to get a home delivery with various stores, they are all booked out and have been since the Prime Minister’s announced the ‘lockdown’. Amazon pantry offers up some dry goods and cleaning products, I pop in an order, I don’t know what I’m ordering, but something is on it’s way.

I need to changed the bed, one of the best feelings is getting into a freshly changed bed. The cat helps by sitting on the duvet making it heavy and three times as hard to put the duvet in the cover, I’m pulling at the duvet and the cat puts all her weight on the duvet, I’m sliding her across the bed, she won’t beat me today. It’s exhausting, I have to sit and rest a few times, it makes me breathless, but I am determined to get it ready.

I message Adam to see how he is, with his new found freedom of not being connected to oxygen, he video calls me back, he is great and feeling good. We add one of my managers to our video call, I can see some of the people I work with, its good and jovial. Its really nice seeing all their faces and hearing their voices, we pass on the good news that it looks like Adam can come home. We continue with the video calls, calling Adam’s family, my family, friends, today is going to be a really good day.

Adam videos calls me, he can come home, can I pick him up at 1pm, bloody hell is 12.30 now, I let Adam’s mum know, that I am going to get him. I need to get changed, I haven’t worn proper clothes since I became ill, I’ve been wearing soft and comfy clothes, not even a bra, bra’s had been hurting my chest, back and shoulders, so I stopped wearing them. I look at my hair, although its been washed everyday, I’ve only been scrapping it back into a pony tail, my roots are very prominent, I have dark hair and my roots are white, I slap a head band on my head.

I feeling a little emotional driving to the hospital and every car seems to be on a go slow in front of me. I realise that I haven’t actually had human contact in two weeks, I’ve been communicating with people through a video screen, which has been a life line to me, but it’s not the same as seeing someone in person and being able to touch them, oh I miss people, I miss Adam. My phone is on the passenger seat of the car and its bleeping constantly, from notifications, I have no idea what is going on, I think it maybe broken as the notification noises continue.

Pulling up outside the hospital, there is no where to park close, I block another car in, its an ambulance transport car, I can see a man in the drivers seat, I speak to him at a distance and explain I am there to pick up my partner, I haven’t seen him in two weeks. He says “it’s alright love, I’m gonna be here for at least half an hour”, I promise that I will be straight back, he tells me not to worry.

I’m walking up to the entrance of the hospital, there are a couple of ambulances outside and then I see the staff. There are staff outside the entrance, inside the lobby, along the corridor, there is hospital staff everywhere, is it some kind of fire evacuation? no, this is for Adam. I’m welling up typing this. All these people are here to see Adam go home, I can see by there uniforms, there are nurses, sisters, matrons, consultants, doctors, radiologists, healthcare assistants, domestics, porters and others wearing scrubs, they are all lining the corridor. There is a bit of a murmuring where people are talking quietly, lots of smiles and nodding towards me, this is so special, not just for me, for all the staff, they have all been apart of Adam’s treatment, in one way or another, I wish Adam’s family could be here to see this, they are never going to believe all these people here, waiting to see Adam.

Someone asks me if I am OK, I say that ‘I didn’t think this day would happen, I didn’t think I was going to see him again’. I message Adam to let him know that I am at the hospital, he messages back ‘on way babe’.

We are all standing there waiting for Adam to come along the corridor, there’s a bit of a noise and a little laughter, Adam appears in the corridor from a completely different direction. I turn round, Adam is in a wheel chair, has a surgical mask over his face, the healthcare assistant pushing the chair is wearing an apron, gloves, mask and visor. Then the noise of people clapping and cheering, all those staff taking the time to see Adam home, stood there clapping and cheering, clapping and cheering Adam. This is truly a special moment, a poignant scene, it’s like the end of a movie, the noise the staff are making, I felt every clap and cheer and I can still hear it now, I can see tears in the eyes of staff, they are in mine as well.

I walk over to Adam, I haven’t touched him in two weeks, I can’t wait any longer, I bend down towards Adam, he is full of tears, Adam is never tearful, my arms stretching round him, I kiss him on the forehead. Adam says to me “please take me home”, the healthcare asks if we are ready, I nod that we are, I turn to face all the staff, who are still clapping and cheering. I want to say something, to everyone of them, I want to express my gratitude in their steadfast, exceptional and sterling treatment of Adam, whilst working under unprecedented and frightening circumstances. Every single member of staff have risked their own health and wellbeing whilst providing care and treatment to Adam and other patients, some staff have left their families to be able to provide this care to patients, I wanted to acknowledge this personal sacrifice. I wanted to say how valuable each and everyone standing there was to Adam and I and other patients and family members. I wanted to hug every single one of the staff standing there clapping and cheering, but I couldn’t, I’m not allowed to and my emotions got the better if me, I opened my mouth and nothing came out, I managed an over exaggerated mouthed thank you, that’s all I had, I was annoyed at myself by not being able to say what I wanted to say.

I follow behind Adam still being pushed by the healthcare support worker, as we got to the car I turn around, staff are still clapping and cheering, the ambulance crews haved turned on the blue flashing lights and they are waving and clapping at us. Adam stands up, I can see he is weak, I put my arms round him, I can feel he has lost weight, we stand there hugging, I notice the man in the hospital transport car, he is out of his car, clapping, he says “it was worth the wait”, I think I gave the biggest smile ever, I could of kissed that man.

It’s a really sunny warm day, the kind if day where you would go out somewhere, enjoy the dry warm weather, but we can’t lockdown is still in progress and I just want to get home, I’m not used to being out. Adam lowers the window in the car, to get some fresh air, the fresh air is making him catch his breath, he said “he hasn’t felt fresh air for ages”, the bright sun was stinging Adam’s eyes.

We pull up outside home, we have got to tackle the 15 steps leading up to the house, I help Adam up the steps, we get to the front door, Adam wants to go up to bed, he is exhausted, we go up the stairs inside the house. I look at adam he looks grey and is breathless, I’m worried he has just come home and looks terrible, I’m thinking I am going to have to drive him back to hospital, he settles on the bed and I’m fussing with pillows, making sure he us sitting up right as much as possible. The cat jumps on the bed, delivers her welcome home scratch on Adam’s leg, we both panic as Adam has had blood thinners in hospital and is now on Apixiban for the pulmonary embolism. I check his leg, she has broken the skin, but no excessive bleeding, Tupac cat bringing us right back to reality, showing us who is the boss.

We video call Adam’s family, it’s so good that we are nearly all back together, we try to explain what we have just been apart of in the hospital, we can’t find the right words to re-live the atmosphere we have just been in, its impossible to describe. We still can’t get over that all those staff stood there waiting for Adam, clapping and cheering his discharge home.

I mention to Adam that I think there is something wrong with my phone, he checks it, it isn’t broken, Adam had posted on Facebook that he was able to leave hospital and tagged me in the post, he said his phone has been the same. It is a heart felt post thanking everyone who has contacted us both during this time and thanking all the staff that have cared for him. The comments on his post are wonderful, one is from a staff nurse from ITU saying it was one of the best highlights in a 32 year career seeing Adam go home, other hospital staff have also commented “seeing you leave was the biggest reward ever”, there are many more, including one of my friends saying “being home it will save Claire from getting food poisoning again”.

Adam and I are sitting up in bed and I showed him all the screen shots I took of the many video calls we had together, with family and friends. I put them altogether using an app adding the beautiful words, music and voice of Cyndi Lauper singing ‘True Colours’, it’s perfect, the lyrics say just what I wanted, I wanted everyone to know that their support of us both over the last few weeks has provided us the courage and the strength to fight. I put the video on Facebook, my post starts ‘Today has been the best day ever’, I go on to thank everyone who was apart of Adam’s care and treatment 111 staff, covid nurse swabbers, A&E staff, the ward staff, ITU staff, the medics, consultants, doctors, radiologists, nurses, healthcare assistants, domestics, phlebotomists, pharmacists, outreach team, PALS and the porters.

Within about 2 minutes of my post I receive a Facebook violation notification, I have breached copyright using the music, I did put a disclaimer on the bottom of the post, but I’ve breached copyright, the music has been muted by Facebook. It’s a shame, as I somehow managed to slot in the photo of our handmade card with the rainbow, just as the right point in the song “True colours are beautiful, just like a rainbow”.

I really need to go food shopping, there is nothing in the fridge, no bread, I’ve chucked out the eggs already. Adam has some requests, he wants some of those fruit pots you have in hospital, fruit! This request is quite a shock to me, Adam eating fruit and some milkshakes. I don’t make a list I think I can remember what he wants, I haven’t been in a shop since 29th March, things have changed since I’ve been shopping. There are metal barriers outside the store, a couple of people are queuing at a distance to each other. I’m actually feeling quite nervous as I don’t know what to expect, the security guards nods me forward, I clean my half sized trolley and use anti-bacterial gel in my hands, there are arrows on the floor to direct you round the store. I pick up my food supplies and see my next door but one neighbour, she is with her husband I’m so happy that he is home and explain that Adam is now home. We are both crying in the aisle, lucky there is hardly anyone there, so we can be as tearful as much as we like, at a distance of course. She said she would of done the shopping for us, I’m so grateful for the offer of help, as I wasn’t sure about leaving Adam on his own. I go through the check out, the member of staff is talking to me, I really dont know how to behave, as I haven’t had people contact for such a long time. I’ve got 2 and a half bags of groceries and its costs £94, in 3 weeks the cost of food has increased incredibly, I had no idea, it was like waking up in a different century.

When I get home, I’ve got to tackle the 15 steps to the front door, it takes time, with lots of rest moments, I’m breathless, I’m tired, I’ve had 2 excursions today and I can’t do anymore. When I get in the door, carrying the bags Adam is standing there it’s so good to see him at home and then I have to hold onto the breakfast bar to catch my breath. Adam’s wants me to sit down and rest before I start to unpack the shopping, I dont argue, I’ve got nothing left in me.

The local news is reporting a paramedic has lost his fight against covid-19, its sobering to the both of us, we both know of him, my heart goes out to his family, friends and work family. The rippling effect of his death will be felt by many people, he had a distinguished career, recognised by the monarchy for his tireless work for the ambulance service, its devastating that a man has lost his life through this virus, from helping, caring and treating other people. There are other healthcare workers that have died locally and nationally through this virus, just by doing the job that they love, just for caring for other people, just for going to work.

This virus is nasty, its causing misery, its ripping the heart out of families, Adam and I have been so very fortunate that we have both walked away with our lives.

We eat sandwiches, as neither of us feel up to cooking and I am dangerous in the kitchen, we return to the bedroom and snuggle up together, the cat reclaims her position on the bed, our little family is back together, we are a little broken, but we are back together.

Tupac Cat 2020

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