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Interview 34

Age at interview: 79
Brief Outline: Her partner had cancer of the kidney and was admitted to ICU after surgery. She visited daily and stayed in hospital overnight for a week.
Background: Retired accounts manager, widowed with four adult children. Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

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In 2006, her partner had cancer of the kidney and would be admitted to ICU afterwards. Four days after surgery he had various complications and needed to have another operation. He also had two cardiac arrests. In total he spent five weeks in hospital, 15 days of which were in ICU.

She visited her partner in hospital every day and stayed overnight in the relatives' room for a week, with her partner's daughter. She had a lot of support from her partner's family, her own family and from friends. Her religious faith and prayer were also an extremely important source of support. 

When her partner was first discharged from hospital, she stayed with him for two months and helped look after him in his own home. He is now much better and, since his illness, they have been on holiday. Although she felt physically and emotionally drained after her partner's illness, life is now almost back to normal.
 
 

Her partner hadn't noticed any symptoms before he was diagnosed with cancer of the kidney, and...

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Her partner hadn't noticed any symptoms before he was diagnosed with cancer of the kidney, and...

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You mentioned that he [partner] had cancer of the kidney. So that date to go into hospital had already been booked? 

Yes. 

Had he had to wait a long time for that?

That was December, about mid-December when they discovered it through a scan. In 2005. And he went in at the end of January 2006. So he had about four or five weeks, five weeks I think it was. 

Had he had any symptoms?

He had no symptoms. This was point you see. It was purely because he had something in the blood. He had blood tests. 

He had no symptoms? 

He had no symptoms. 

When he went to see the doctor, did he -?

We asked what sort of symptoms should he have noticed and he said, 'Well none at that stage because it is, when you get the symptoms it is usually too late.' But it was because there was irregular white platelets and the blood count was high and they were just trying to find out what had caused it. But he had been quite fit.

Fortunately the cancer was totally enclosed. And the surgeon was very delighted once they had got the analysis of the biopsy. His face was a picture when he said that it was totally enclosed and it hadn't spread. And then the day he was getting better and I was just going out to get something and his daughters were visiting, he met the surgeon in the corridor. He had just come from the theatre. He was still in his gown and his face was grinning because he had the message from the Intensive Care people that he was getting better. 
 

 

She stayed at the hospital for a week and felt that, by being there and holding her partner's...

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She stayed at the hospital for a week and felt that, by being there and holding her partner's...

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How was your routine at that time? 

Oh it was a bit chaotic. Because I was going, before we had the room I was going off early in the morning, well I'd get up and have a bath, breakfast, and off I would go. 

You drove there did you? 

I drove there. It was about fifteen miles. I drove to the hospital and I just stayed there with him, except when they were wanting to do something, the doctors were coming round, the surgeons, and wanted to do anything like bathe him and such like. And there was a waiting room and I used to go and sit there and just go outside if they were doing something, or else I would nip down to the canteen, restaurant, and have something to eat at lunch time. Sometimes I didn't go down there until the rest period, which was between three and five, because I just wanted to stay with him. 

In the Intensive Care? 

In the Intensive Care. Just stay as long as you could, feeling that just by holding his hand we were doing some good. And the staff there, as I say, were excellent. They would tell me what they were doing. You knew he was being monitored the whole time, so there was no... 

Was there a nurse by him the whole time? 

Yes. 24 hours a day. I got quite friendly with the nurses who were very good. And if they were doing anything they would explain what they were doing and why. 

And what time were you driving back then at night? 

Quite often late at night. It was often 10 o'clock and I'd stayed there, and eventually they gave me a pass to park for the car park because that was every two hours. Well you could put it on for four hours. But I got a pass, a parking permit and that helped. And then of course we were staying late, when he was really ill, staying in the family room. 

And how long did you stay in the family room? 

We had it for just over a week. 

So did you take the things that you needed? 

Yes I took things in a toilet bag, an overnight bag, and clean clothes for the next day. And every now and again when things were a bit quiet, that two hours, I would come home and get some things.
 

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