By Kathy Martin…
This was written two weeks after Alistair died on Sunday 1st November 2015. I felt that if anyone else suffers the same devastating loss that possibly my experience may help.
My memories around Alistair’s death (1)
As written w/c 16th November 2015
I definitely feel cheated out of our joint future. I have decided, in fact the decision was made when we moved here (to Northern Cyprus) nearly ten years ago (6th May 2006) that we will live here until we die. Have paid for a double grave as cremation is not allowed here. Alistair and I always said, if discussing it with friends, that this was the final place we would live, as “we came here to die”. Just did NOT expect it to happen SO SOON!
As far as my email and Facebook names are concerned – I am not changing either. Email is “alikat” between Alistair’s year of birth of 1947 = 19alikat47 and Ali-Kathy Martin on Facebook – after nearly 40 years (27th March 1976 – 2016) of marriage – I could NEVER see myself wanting to lose that connection!
Find I am still saying “we” instead of “I” have no idea how long that will go on, but as I write this it is only 2 weeks since that AWFUL phone call.
Alistair had been having problems breathing over the years, we both gave up smoking six
and a half years ago (in March 2009. The latest problems began when he had a bad case of pneumonia in June 2015. He was hospitalised for three days and used a nebuliser and Ventolin to help him breathe.
This latest bout started late Tuesday 27th October
Alistair was having awful trouble breathing and he agreed when I said “I’m taking you to A&E”, a sign that he must have been scared, as usually he would “poo-poo” me and say “oh stop worrying I’ll be fine!”
When I dropped him off at the door of A&E; it is quite a walk uphill from the car park; he took a seat and as I walked in he was being whisked inside to see the doctor. After what seemed like a lifetime (45 minutes) a nurse came out and informed me that he had been sent by ambulance to the Lefkoşa State Hospital (that is our capital about half an hour drive away from our home town of Girne. Given his shoes and told “You MUST go to Lefkoşa now”! Not happy driving at night, so they got me a taxi (left his shoes in our car in the car park). By the time I got to the hospital Alistair had been put in the Intensive Care ward. Again, another long wait and a nurse came out and gave me a bag with his clothes, his handbag and told to come back in the morning. Eventually got home at about 02.30.
Understandably, did not sleep well for the remainder of that night.
Wednesday 28th October
The morning was a nightmare; Lefkoşa State Hospital is HUGE. I have MS and need a stick to walk and cannot walk fast, so trying to find my way around when my Turkish is not that brilliant was HORRENDOUS! Eventually found the İntensive Care ward, but I was only allowed to view Alistair, via a television monitor; he was wired up to a variety of machines and seemed to have drips in both arms and of course, he could not see me. Found this very upsetting!
Told to go and talk to his doctor, miles away (well, that is what it felt like!). At one point I was so exhausted I spotted a chair in a ward and, in my very basic Turkish, asked if I could borrow it to sit down for 5 minutes; the lady visiting her patient was soooooooooooo kind to me and I had a little weep out of sheer frustration. She found someone who could speak English and I was directed the correct way, when I must have shown panic, this VERY KIND person went with me to show me the way.
Eventually found the Doctor and was relieved he spoke a little English. Enough to tell me that Alistair would be in Intensive Care until Friday.
Thursday, 29th October
A public holiday, nothing would change, so there was absolutely no point in my coming to look at a TV screen!
Friday 30th October
Went to the Happy Valley, our favourite restaurant/bar. The landlord is an outstanding Pakistani called Riaz, with a wonderful sense of humour whom we have known ever since we came here. He speaks excellent Turkish, so when I managed to get hold of Alistair’s Doctor, Riaz spoke to him and found I could take his suitcase to him that afternoon. As I had been a girl guide and was prepared, had brought the case with me!
I was given excellent directions, so I could park extremely close to Alistair’s ward. Had put his small case into one our larger ones with wheels to help! A very kind Turkish lady helped me right up to his ward. The relief I felt on seeing my darling man is almost painful to remember now!
Alistair had a catheter and was very confused. After I had just sat down, he tried getting out of bed and asked him could I get him something, he said he wanted to go to the loo. I explained (gently) that he had a catheter, so he must stay in bed. This he accepted, but a couple of minutes later he again tried getting out of bed, “where are you going, Darling”? He said “I must get dressed, so you can take me home”. It almost broke my heart when I told him that he was not well enough to come home and that he must stay in hospital a few more days.
These (both loo and going home) were repeated every few minutes!
A nurse came and informed me that I must get a prescription filled out for him. Told her I would bring the medicine in the morning, as by now it was 16.30 and had no idea where any pharmacies were near the hospital. Told that was fine. So I wished Alistair a good night’s sleep, told him I’d see him the next day and left.
That was the last time I saw my Darling Man; I am finding this both distressing and cathartic to write!
Saturday 31st October
Went to our regular chemist, who has been supplying Alistair’s drugs for some considerable time. She was sorry to tell me she did not have the drugs I needed. But before I collapsed, she very quickly said she would have them by 13.00. Nothing else I could do, so I took the weekly local paper, Cyprus Today, to the Happy Valley and read it. Just before 13.00 I got back to the chemist, just as the drugs van drove up (this amazed me) because being given a time here does not often mean that it will actually happen at that time!
Anyway, I was at the hospital just after 13.40 and I went to Alistair’s room; I knew it was his because I could see his suitcase. I should have mentioned earlier each room had two beds. There was a Turkish patient standing in the doorway, but he would not let me in, he pointed down the ward corridor and said “Doctor”. I went and spoke to him and he told me that Alistair had taken bad again, so they had returned him to Intensive Care. I was told to take his suitcase and phone on Monday.
That drive home was awful, I was so desperate to see Alistair and spent another awful night.
The next issue will cover the horror of Alistair’s heart attack and the affirmation of his life – refused to call it a funeral – too depressing!