I have waited to speak on this subject, in deference to Her Majesty’s Coroner, to the legal process of the Inquest system; but mainly to ensure that my beloved wife is given HER due, in reminding everyone involved that no one is above the LAW!
To be human is to feel emotion. From the sounds of sixty-five thousand voices, most of whom were hoping against hope that England would soar against the curse which has bedevilled the very idea of a series of penalty kicks resultant in an English triumph, to the sound of a trumpet sounding ‘The Last Post’. I understand the emotions which grab the very core of a human’s mind, that very thing which separates us from the animals. When Shakespeare penned those words which he gave to Henry The Fifth in the scenes before the battle at Azincourt; did he wonder, or even imagine, that somehow the miracle of ‘Moving Pictures’ would immortalise his words in film, as Laurence Olivier brought that fervour to a distinctly unimaginative army of bowmen?
Some may scorn the bagpipes, but, to a semi-detached Gaelic mind, the skirl of ‘Amazing Grace’, or ‘Flowers of the Forest’ brings a tangible moment where the skin just tightens around the back of one’s neck; the heart beats just that bit faster, the pride in those emotions surfaces for many.‘ For my wife, it was the majestic Song to the Moon from Rusalka by Dvorak, sung by Milada Subrtova. We both loved classical music. My wife veered more towards music from ballet, as she also was possibly happiest when watching her favourites. My late brother, knowing that we were due across to England on holiday some four decades ago, booked tickets to see Nureyev; and my wife thought that she was nearing ‘nirvana’, watching her hero dance to the music she adored. My own tastes veered towards the music of the masters, Beethoven, Mozart and Vivaldi. That the music she loved most was that played as the curtains slowly closed around her coffin was chosen by myself, but, IF I HAD ONLY KNOWN, that same music could have continued to sooth her troubled mind for months, if not for years.
Of all the myriad human emotional lamentations, without any doubt the most common is the expression ‘If only I had known’. As I kissed my wife farewell, as I raised my phone and sadly snapped the last image, as I know now it to be, of my wife, as I watched her be wheeled away towards the lifts and the awaiting wards: ’If only I had known’. That image which shall remain forever private.
If Only I Had Known that at least one man would treat her as just a case, not a human being but as an exercise in ridding him, and his hospital, of a tiresome presence if things didn’t go as planned. I doubt if the word ‘criminal’ even strayed across his consciousness as he phoned this unsuspecting husband, sick with worry over a hospitalised, injured wife, and entered on a long prepared monologue about how elderly people could not withstand the shock of resuscitation, and often did not survive for long, even if they recovered. The words “Do Not Attempt Resuscitation’, or “Do Not Attempt Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation” form part of both NHS and Hospital Trust Documentation”; but, as I discovered, their use is hushed, hindered, and indeed, rarely spoken out loud.
IF ONLY I HAD KNOWN that this arrogant scumbag would slap a DNACPR notice upon my frail, ill, injured wife’s bedside file, because, IN HIS F*****G OPINION, it was in her best interests to just be left to die. To die without at least a comforting hand from a man and a husband who had faithfully kept his promise, in those words which still echo down the decades “In sickness and in health,’til death us do part!”
If only I had known that the ruling Hospital document for the DNR acronym, or the more authoritative DNACPR acronym, which of course refers to Do Not Attempt Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation had not been revised for over five years, and even then was treated like another piece of hospital documentation; I would have acted and spoken very, very differently in defence of how my wife, of some fifty-three years of marriage, would be treated and respected, instead of, as she actually was treated, as a piece of garbage, to be got rid of as soon as possible!
The sheer arrogance exhibited by the Hospital Trust in its documentation is only matched by the same arrogance which infests the people whom carry out the demands and operations noted by the pages which state how the process known as DNR, or ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ is operated. The needs of both patient and of family caring for that patient are ill-served by that document, in or out-of-date as it so obviously is. Time after time, in both National NHS and Hospital, the statement is made that Patients or Legally appointed Family Members should be told and encouraged to understand the DNACPR legislation as judged to be necessary. Unfortunately, I was never, ever told that a DNAR notice featured on my Jacqueline’s file, otherwise I would have laid siege to the the bloody hospital!
As I discovered during the actual Inquest, the DNR notice may have sped my wife’s passage towards an untimely death. She was doing fine after the operation, but her breathing became erratic, but instead of immediately administering CPR which MIGHT have aided recovery, she was left untouched by the hospital team, her progress towards death was unimpeded by any effort to sustain life simply and solely because of the presence of that Do Not Apply Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation notice, which has the full effect of Law.
There is No Appeal against a DNACPR Document
The ONLY concession I achieved during the Inquest was when the surgeon, who actually seemed a decent enough bloke, said “The Process should maybe have been handled better!”
My own thoughts on the ‘Process’ are, unfortunately: UNPRINTABLE!