My experience started on Friday 12th July 2019 when my mum text me to say my dad had been sent home from work unwell which was very unlike him. He had told me he had caught a bit of a cold a few days earlier and it sounded like he had flu symptoms on the Friday. He used to text me without fail every single night after work and say ‘hello darling, how are you and how was your day?‘. I never got that text on the Friday so I knew he must have been feeling rough and he apparently went straight to bed when he got home earlier that day.
On the Saturday, I picked my mum up from work at 2pm and when we got in, he was sitting on the sofa so we assumed he must have been feeling better but he said all morning he had had a sciatica type pain in his leg and nothing seemed to help. I googled it and read that sciatica is a possible symptom of the flu so we put it down to that. I used to spend Saturday afternoons at my parents house but because I knew he was feeling poorly I went home and said to let me know if there was anything he needed. He struggled to get up to walk me to the door so I told him to sit down and again said ‘text me if you need anything’.
It was 11:30pm later that night when my mum text my partner and asked if we were still up as they had called for an ambulance as my dad had lost the feeling in his leg. Because it was a Saturday night, the ambulance said based on his symptoms it could take up to 3 hours to get there so my partner quickly got dressed and said he was going to take him in. At this point, we all honestly thought my dad would be going in, would get an injection and be sent straight back as he was still talking like his usual self. Because of this (and because hospitals terrify me) I stayed home and sat waiting for news.
I was told that when they arrived at the hospital, they wheeled him in in a chair as he couldn’t walk at that point and he was absolutely dripping with sweat. He was seen instantly and once they had accessed him, they were baffled – the room was full of doctors and one of them suggested it could be NF and that he would have to undergo emergency surgery and worst case scenario they may have to amputate his leg. I only found this out later on as my mum and partner didn’t want to worry me. My mum said that she told him that they were going to come and collect me and that we’d all see him when he woke up – I’m not sure if he was aware of what was happening at this point but I’m an only child and I cling to the fact that he knew I was on my way as were were so close.
It was around 4am on Sunday 14th July and we were told he was still in theatre and we were taken to the family room in the intensive care unit. Around an hour later, one of the surgeons came out and told us that he was still in the theatre and that he was very very ill and that the infection was spreading as they were operating and that they would have to amputate. We were all in total shock, my dad loved golf and we all loved going to concerts together (he had only just got back from London after seeing 3 concerts himself a few days earlier). How was he going to cope spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair. The nurse told us to go outside for some air as he wasn’t due back out of surgery for another hour or so. I remember shaking and telling my mum that we would get him the best possible care that we could. It was around 5.30am and we were stood in a near empty car park terrified of going back in. I had a strange feeling that something else wasn’t right. We went back in and the nurse approached us and said the surgeons were waiting for us as they needed to speak to us – I couldn’t go in and remember standing alone in an empty corridor whilst my mum and partner went in to speak to the surgeons. My partner came out and I knew from his face so I said ‘has he’ and he said no but there isn’t anything else they can do for him. That’s when my world came crumbling down on me and is a moment I will never ever forget. I went in as the surgeons were leaving the room and the nurse told us that they were going to take my dad to ICU and if there were any family that wanted to say goodbye, then we should ring them. My dads last few hours were spent hooked up to various machines and sadly is an image I will never forget.
My dad passed away aged 62 at 5:50pm on the 14th July. I will never understand how something so awful as NF can literally take someone’s life within a few hours with no warning signs. The hardest part is we will never know how he contracted it, he wasn’t ill, he had no scratches or cuts and hadn’t been in hospital prior to this or had any surgery. The doctors said there was no way of knowing how he contracted it.
Carly (Bryan’s daughter)