Monday, April 29, 2024

ANZAC night life changing

I will write in the future of the aftermath but here is the timeline of the night and what happened. It really helps me to write. 

We had a nice Anzac Day together. Most shops were closed until 1pm in respect for the day so we just crossed the road to a cafe that was doing very good trade with people returning home after the dawn service and later the march. I can't remember what we chose to eat, no matter.

In the afternoon, Ray retired to his room to watch his favourite tv shows on his bedroom tv and have his nanna nap. I think I went out for a walk and then spent some time on this device.

5.45 Ray set the dinner table and put the ingredients out on the kitchen bench for dinner. It was to be high quality fish fingers, chips and coleslaw he would make himself. 

5.58 Ray poured himself a glass of wine and sat in his lounge chair to watch the commercial tv's six o'clock news.

6.02 He walked past the back of my computer chair where I was sitting and made a couple of strange noises as he headed to his bedroom. I thought I would finish what I was doing online and see if he was ok.

6.03 He called out my name. What's wrong hon? Terrible stomach pain. I feel like I am dying. I checked his pulse, seemed ok. No temperature on his forehead. His breathing was a bit fast, a bit panting. I asked him if he wanted an ambulance and he replied, not sure. Two minutes later he asked me to call an ambulance, which I immediately did. The emergency call person told me an ambulance was on its way and handed me over to someone else who sent me a link to my phone and said to just click on it and it would automatically work if I clicked accept voice and camera. Visually by my phone he checked Ray's breathing rate and how unwell he looked. 

6.20 Ambulance arrived and called via the intercom. The silly thing I remember is that they were both name Nick. The pain in Ray's stomach was terrible and he was becoming more distressed. The paras hooked him up to portable machines and while his heart rate was ok, his blood pressure was very low. They gave him a strong pain killer injection but it didn't seem to relieve him much. The paras asked me to gather up his medications, phone, and his Medicare card.

6.30 At a second attempt after he fell back onto the bed in such pain at the first attempt, they managed to get Ray into a wheelchair to take him down to the ambulance. He was still so distressed and it was awful to see. I asked if he wanted me to come with him and he said no. He had his phone with him and I said I will await a call from the hospital.  

6.45 Ray was at emergency at the hospital. 

I thought I would call the hospital at 10pm. 

9.30 Ray called. I've had a CT scan and there is something not right in my stomach. I'm waiting for the doctor to come and speak to me. I'm still in some pain but I don't feel too bad. I replied, so I can have a drink now, as you won't need me tonight. No, you have a drink and have a good night's sleep. Ok, I'll pack a bag for you and come in early tomorrow morning. 

I had a couple of drinks and I was in bed before 11pm. I then did the most stupid thing. I forgot to take my phone to bed and put it on charge. I rarely do that. I can only think I was stressed and worried. But really, how did I do that when Ray was in hospital? 

1.00am Eventually the intercom ring penetrated my sleeping brain. Straight away I knew this was not a good thing. I answered to see two police officers and one said, you're not in trouble Mr Andrew but can we come up to speak to you. As I opened the apartment door, I said to them, 'This is not going to be good news is it?'. 'No Mr Andrew, is isn't. Ray has died. In your own time, we can take you to The Alfred to see him'. I checked my phone and saw the 11.45 call from the hospital. I dressed and I called the hospital and I think got quickly through to A&E. They told me to enter using the main entrance. I relayed this to the police. They suggested I call someone to tell them what had happened and to get support. I can't remember if I did but everyone would have been asleep anyway.  

I dressed and got myself organised and with the cops, went down in the lift. They said, 'We are sure you don't want to be seen getting in and out of a divvy van, so we have a car here to take you. 

The hospital staff were lovely. The doctor told me what had happened. He had a severe aorta bleed, the aorta being the large artery that carries blood to or from the heart. Think of it as a bulge in bicycle tube, a weak spot, and it bursts. There is only a 20% survival rate. The blood pools in the abdomen, hence the stomach pain Ray suffered. While doctors poured blood into him, it was too late and he slipped into an unconscious state and then died from blood loss. 

Ray was in a room, and most tubes and wires had been removed bar the intubation tube down his throat. He looked peaceful. His face had cooled but his covered over body was still very warm. I spent about 15 minutes with him and just walked out of the hospital unnoticed. I almost reached St Kilda Road for 1.5 kilometre walk home and remembered I had forgotten to pick up Ray's personal effects, mostly a shirt, his medications and his phone. 

I returned to the hospital emergency and told someone at the desk about the matter. A nurse came and said, I'll get them for you and asked if I wanted Ray's wedding ring too. It isn't a wedding ring but I did want it. He brought them out and then asked where I lived as he put his hand on my shoulder in comfort. I told him and he asked how I was getting home. He said, you can't do that. I'll call you a cab and give you a taxi voucher There was one button in the waiting area to press to get a cab, which duly arrived.

"How's your night been" chirped the taxi driver. "Not great. My partner of 44 years has just suddenly died." "So sorry. I'm sure she was lovely". He was foreign born and I don't blame him for making assumptions. I must seem quite masculine, hey. But assumptions about my partner's gender kept coming from professional people who should be trained at how to use neutral language until the sex of the person being discussed is known. There will be more about that in the aftermath post.

It was daytime in England of course, so I called Ray's closest sister who was on holiday in Spain. After telling her what had happened, I did ask if she was having a nice holiday. She replied, "I was until you called".

Ray's two other sisters called shortly after. At 4am I went to bed and decided since I was on my own, I would leave my bedroom door open and so heard the clock strike five. I slept until about 6.30.

I've cropped me out of this photo I used on FB with some words, concluding with "22/03/49 - 25/04/24.

This is the last photo of us together, Sydney, March, 2024 and what a great day we had. Who would of thought..."

40 comments:

  1. Tears here. Thank you for this post. He does look a lovely man and very happy in that final photo of the two of you together. Look after yourself. Please.

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  2. That is a really lovely photo. Your Ray looks like he was a happy soul and I can well imagine you both living a very good life together for those 44 years.
    I hope that writing about it helps. I am sure that you know your Blog friends are thinking of you right now x

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  3. Oh Andrew, I'm so sorry for the sudden death of Ray. What a shock it must have been to you and the whole family. My condolences to all.

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  4. Oh no, what a horrible shock, hope you have family and friends near you to help you through this.

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  5. Lovely photograph of a lovely man. Thinking of you. x

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  6. What a night. Things can change completely in a moment. I'm glad you can look back on a nice day together.
    Ray looks a peaceful, happy bloke.
    I'm sorry people make assumptions about partnerships. We still have a way to go

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  7. Thank you Andrew for the details, for me lovely to read, everyone was and is ever so caring, bless them.
    Gorgeous photo of R, looks so happy and know doubt he was.
    Take care...hugs, Margaret xxx

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  8. Thank you for writing. I'm glad it helps a bit.

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  9. I'm sure it helped to get the story out, and my heart stays with you at this time.
    Ray looks like a very sweet man; you two were lucky to have found one another.

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  10. I agree on ‘writing it down’ being a help. It won’t change anything but it will release some of the trauma for you. We’re here for whenever you want to share more of your thoughts
    Your fella certainly was a comfortable confident looking man. He has a very ‘open’ face that would make him easy to approach and relate to. Lucky you for finding him - and vice versa.
    Take care
    Cathy xx

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  11. Did you feel Ray was treated as well as humanly possible by the ambulance and hospital staff? We all deserve the very best at the worst moments, especially the man you loved.

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  12. Writing always helps me sort things our in my head too, gets it out of my head so that it's not just going round and round. Your partner looks like a lovely man and has a beautiful smile. Again, I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  13. Such a lovely happy looking man! It does help to write it down. I had sent you a condolence online card but the email I had bounced back.

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  14. Andrew, my tears are running on the keyboard. To happen so suddenly without warning must make it worse. Thank you for sharing the story. I hope is has helped a little to write it.

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  15. I'm glad writing helps you. It has helped me immeasurably too. Paper (or computer) is always there to listen, even if it is the same thing over and over. Your partner looks like he was just as lovely as your description. Take care of yourself, friend.

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  16. It must all be such a shock. I can see how writing it out helps, though. When you mentioned pain in the stomach -- and knowing how suddenly it happened -- I wondered if it could be an aortic aneurysm. It sounds like the hospital and emergency workers responded well, which is a blessing. At least you know he got good care.

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  17. This made me cry. I am glad you found such kindness during such a shocking time. It was imperfect, to be sure, but the intent was kindliness. I hope you are even now wrapped in the embrace of your family. You have had a terrible shock.

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    1. I'm tearing up, as well. What a terrible and tragic shock. Thank you for showing that awesome photo of his beautiful smile. Hugs, my dear.

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    2. Goofy me, I failed to log on. I dread such an event as you're suffering. Take care of yourself.

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    3. And the first goofy anonymous was Debby.

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  18. Oh Andrew. I'm sad that you were on your own dealing with the trauma of losing Ray so quickly and unexpectedly. That photo of him is gorgeous. His smile is so welcoming and carefree. You have 44 years of memories to call on and enjoy. These coming weeks and months will be an ordeal for you having to get used to living on your own. Let your family and friends be there with you when needed. I'm sure they will respect your privacy when you need to be alone with your thoughts and memories. It is good to talk about those last few hours, Keep talking about it to all who will listen. i am at the other end of the phone if you want to talk. All my love. x

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  19. Ray looks like a fine chap as the English would say. I hope the writing helps you to deal with the trauma of it all, Andrew. You have a lot of support on-line and in real life so don't hesitate to use it. Take care of yourself.

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  20. I'm bawling my eyes out. I'm hoping you're writing of it goes to a little healing of your pain and grief Andrew. What a lovely man. What lovely times. How wonderful you had each other.
    XO
    WWW

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  21. How nice that the police came, when you didn't answer, and brought a car. I don't know what to say, outside of I'm sorry you lost Ray--your partner in love, life, travel, food, drink, adventure, tiffs, makeups, caring for your mom, family get togethers--- for so many decades---household management extraordinairre.

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  22. Aortic dissection is hardly treatable despite surgery in time. There is not much you can do. Please look after yourself. Continue to live to the fullest on behalf of Ray.

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  23. Stalker
    Andrew
    Ray was a handsome man with such a kind face.
    Through your writing you bring support to others .In a a way it is a spiritual experience grieving with your readers .who love and respect you

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  24. I didn't drop into "From The High Rise" for three days so it was a real shock to learn that the love of your life had died. Thank you for sharing the lovely photo of your Ray. There's not much more than I can say right now except - please accept my sincere condolences Andrew.

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  25. At least the last photo of R is one where he looks quite happy. Again, my condolences.

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  26. What a nice face Ray has. A ruptured aorta sounds terribly painful, so it's better that he died quickly I suppose. I get tears in my eyes every time I open your blog now.

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  27. You just never know, when you think you’re going along ok and such a medical experience as this which you have no control over can be the end of you. Our police are wonderful, I’m glad they got you a special car. And how lovely of the Alfred staff to give you a voucher to get home, even though the driver meant well and was inappropriate. So sorry for you, such a shock. Marie, Melbourne

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  28. What a wonderful happy smile Ray had. I find it so sad when the love of one's life dies and there is no comfort to be had from the heartbreak.
    But then I remember the Terry Pratchett quote...
    "No one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world finally die away". And I imagine the water still after the circular motion of the stone thrown in slowly comes to an end.

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  29. Oh, Andrew. I'm so very sorry for your loss. Take care of yourself.

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  30. Oh Andrew, I am so very sorry. And glad you had special vacay time together. I hope you have family and friends gathered round to support you. Much love.
    Sandra sandracox.blogspot.com

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  31. Sorry to hear your story, the same sudden passing ( different medical condition) happened to a 59 year old in our family the week before Christmas...so I have an understanding how you are feeling..you have been together for such a long time...Ray looks like a lovely guy...take care....Peta

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  32. Oh Andrew, that is terrible I know what you are going through, it seemed to me that I was living again the moment when the phone rang and told me that Rick died. From this moment on I did everything like a robot and can't remember. It will take time to learn to live alone ! Why did you crop you out of the picture ? You were 44 years together and should also be on the photo. I am thinking of you and sincerely hope that you find an exit from time to time to forget your grief !

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  33. I read the first sentence of today's post (3 May) and instinctively knew something was wrong so came back until I reached this post. I cannot even pretend to understand your loss or what you are going through. You are in my thoughts. Kia kaha.

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  34. Andrew,
    Reading your account of your last night with your beloved Ray brought tears to my eyes. We all wish for a quick, painless death. I lost my partner/husband of fifty-nine years Bill Kelly this past February 22nd. It wasn't quick or painless. He suffered a brain concussion after falling from a stroke and hitting his head on the edge of a piece of furniture in his bedroom. I found him on the floor when he didn't appear for breakfast. He was unconscious, I did not know why. I called 911 and they came and took him to the local hospital. Later in the day they called me at work and told me he was going to die unless he was Medivacked (medical helicopter) to a bigger hospital in Philadelphia (two and a half hours away) because he had major trauma to his head. There was little chance of survival but there was a chance. They saved his life at the Philadelphia hospital after a week's stay in the ICU unit. Then he was transferred to a rehab facility in nearby Dover Delaware for two week's of rehabilitation. He came home in February of 2021. He couldn't dress himself, feed himself, or take his own medication. But he did know who I was and wanted only to come home with me. For the next three years I was his full time caregiver. I bathed him, fed him, gave him his medications, took him for his daily rides (which he so loved), and always told him how much I loved him.
    To be continued
    Ron of Retired In Delaware

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  35. I had him for three more years until the he rapidly declined two and half weeks before he died February 22nd. Those two and a half weeks I tried desperately to save him but he just kept slipping on the floor. I couldn't get him up. He was hallucinating, getting his times mixed up, very weak, and just wanted to die. He wanted to kill himself because he couldn't see either (macular degeneration) but he didn't want to leave me. He was torn. But after calling the local EMTS (at a $100 each visit) to get him up off the floor and also my neighbor to help me, I just couldn't do it anymore. I had to admit defeat to the local hospice care he was under (visits several times a week plus the VA healthcare home visits). The local hospice center arrived Tuesday evening February 20th with their ambulance to take Bill to the hospice center from which I knew he would never return. I felt so guilty because I could no longer take care of Bill. I followed the ambulance to to the facility and after they got Bill under control (he was thrashing about), I stayed the night with him. I also spent the next day with him while he was unconscious. I went home before dark (I hate driving at night) and planned to come back the next day to be with him. I wanted to be with him when he passed. Bill was at the hospice center Wednesday February 21st, Thursday February 22nd, and Friday February 23rd. I stayed with him during the days and went to our home, our very empty home, before it got dark. Bill was unconscious the whole time but I think he knew I was there. On Friday I called friends to say "Goodbye" to him. I put my iPhone up to his ear. The nurses told me the hearing is usually the last to go. I hope he heard us. I told him I loved him and it was all right to go. I hated to see him this way but I knew it was best for him and it was what he wanted. That Friday night, when I went home I suspected it was the last time I would see him. I left my ringer on my iPhone and at about 2 AM in the morning I heard my iPhone ring. I knew that this WAS THE CALL.. It was. The nurse informed me "I'm sorry to tell you but Mr. Kelly passed at 12:20 AM." I am tearing up as I type this. When I heard that message I knew my life was changed forever. I am no longer the same person I was before I met Bill when I was 22 years old. This man who I spent my whole adult life with. I remember early on when Bill first went into home hospice care I told the nurse that both of hoped that Bill would pass peacefully in his sleep. She stopped what she was doing,, turned around and looked at me sadly. She wanted to say something but held back. I said "It doesn't usually happen that way does it?" He sad face nodded in agreement with me. Bill's passing didn't happen peacefully but at least he was drugged up so much (morphine), hopefully he didn't feel the pain and discomfort of no water or food for days before he passed. My only solace now is knowing that I too will soon pass (I'm 82 now) and if there is a God in Heaven I will be reunite with Bill's spirit.
    Ron of Retired in Delaware

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    1. That's terribly moving Ron. Although it doesn't feel like it at the moment, I am fortunate that I didn't have to go through what you both did. Ray's suffering was brief. I hope it's been helpful to you to write this overall account. Relationships can be fraught at times and many don't survive the trials of life. We have been privileged to have loved and been loved for so long.

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  36. I want you to know that I am thinking of you many times these past few weeks. And now that I read the timeline of events... I fathomed quickly what occurred. As a nurse for over 30 years I can say that I've held the hands of so many patients in their last moments and always feel privileged to be there at that time. A few weeks ago I sat down with two relatives at a bedside and we chatted for over an hour. After that, we proceeded to prepare their beloved Dad together. I don't usually do that as procedure..but these two lovely people felt it qas what they needed to do.
    I also did this with my Mum.. different circumstances as she passed in her own home with my nursing her palliative during Covid lockdowns.

    There is more I'd like to write but it's 3am and I'm on my 12hr night shift. The emergency pager doesn't stop just so I can have a cuppa!

    Please take care lovely human. Be kind to yourself xx

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