Archive for the ‘Head injury’ Category


Back in July my step-father was knocked over by a car reversing off a drive, 9 days after the accident he died without ever fully regaining consciousness. The accident happened outside my Mother’s bungalow and the driver of the car lives in the house opposite Mum’s, all too close for the circumstances and the outcome to ever be away from the front of Mum’s mind for any length of time, in fact it acts as a permanent irritant. Mum has always been slightly batty but recently her mental health has been extremely volatile, manic would be a fair assessment. There has been extravagant spending, tantrums, suggestions about suicidal plans, fixating on people and then pestering them but throughout a refusal to accept help from health professionals. Her issues have placed huge strain on my sister and her family, with me caught in the wash. What has exacerbated the situation, and made it virtually impossible for any of us, but especially Mum, to start moving forward, has been the spectre of the final coroner’s inquest and all that would entail.

On Friday we had the inquest. The poor man who knocked my step-father over was there by himself. Yes, he had a solicitor there representing him but other than that he was alone going through the awful ordeal of reliving the accident, minute by minute, inch by inch and having every movement he made questioned. Mum was questioned, she didn’t always answer the question directly, in fact a 10 minute ramble around the answer was her style; the police; the home office pathologist and the accident investigator were all also questioned and just under 3 hours later the death certificate was produced, accidental death. I was happy, well perhaps not happy, content, yes content is good. Mum appeared accepting of the result, we had worried that she was seeking retribution and, if not the death penalty, then that causing death by dangerous driving would be her expectation, but it seems that the inquest has been a cathartic experience. I really hope so for Mum’s, my sister’s and my own sanity, it seems there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

Image credit: Art Valero/Getty Images

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Yes, I am cross over many things but I have now focused my recent angst and am attempting to galvanise my Mother’s local authority into action. The day after Ref’s accident I was looking out of the window picturing the accident, morbid but inevitable really, when I noticed that the neighbours access over the pavement has not got a ‘dropped kerb’. Once I had realised this I Could understand why he was driving in, and reversing out, it’s easier to drive up a kerb. I mentioned this to my sister, she’s involved in housing, an she told me that it is an offence under the Highways Act 1980 to not have a crossover or dropped kerb. The next time I saw our police liason guy I mentioned this omission to him, the next day he told me it wasn’t an offence. With more things to occupy my thoughts than pavements I dismissed it from my thoughts, until Mum started to obsess about the neighbour continuing to reversing out into the road, he is basically re-enacting the accident time after time.

I returned to the Highways Act 1980 and found Section 184 which confirmed my sister’s previous assertion Then I went to the website of Mum’s Local Authority and found that they state that it is illegal AND DANGEROUS to access a property by motor vehicle when a dropped kerb has not been installed. I mused. The Highways Act gives 2 reasons for requiring a crossover, one is to prevent damage to the pavement and any services within it, the other is to allow for the easy transition from pavement to road. Right, so they are acknowledging that the drop from one level to another may cause problems, do they mean lack of control of the vehicle I wonder? Armed with my newly acquired information I marched into the relevant local authority offices where, initially, a lovely young man told me there was nothing they could do. I suggested he view their website where they state in glorious technicolour that they can prevent a householder’s vehicle from crossing over a pavement to gain access. He did this and then, some what laconically, told me they would look into it. I remained calm and suggested that he read his local paper to find out why I was so concerned about the relevant transgression but that everything was fine as now I had informed the local powers that be (him) about something which had contributed to a fatality and which was continuing to occur on multiple occasions throughout the day, probably due to the lack of a dropped kerb.

That was yesterday. Today a highways official has contacted the police to inform them that he is visiting the site, not sure why he let them know, it ensures we don’t hear his findings as the police are not allowed to tell us much in case it prejudices a case but at least I feel as if I may have stopped the neighbour rubbing salt in the wound, hopefully.

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Inquest adjourned

I’ve never met a coroner before or attended an inquest, but both happened today. The coroner was very patient and understanding with my Mother, the inquest decided nothing as the CPS are still investigating and deciding what, if any, action they are going to take, so it has now been adjourned until January. We were stunned to find out that, whilst we were having our little official business with the coroner, Ref was being cut open again by a different Home Office pathologist. We had assumed that if the driver’s solicitor had demanded a second post-mortum we would have been informed, it’s quite a personal thing really, bad enough that a post-mortum had to be performed initially, not a pleasant image really but to know that it was all being repeated without his wife’s knowledge is somehow extra disturbing.  We heard the results of the 2nd PM late afternoon, they were the same as the first so that would appear to show without doubt that the accident caused his death.

After the inquest and PM the body was ‘released’, so we have now organised the funeral, it’s next Tuesday afternoon. I spent this afternoon phoning everyone who had said they wished to attend, informing them of the arrangements, whilst my sister spent the time writing to all interested parties, banks, work and pensions etc. I then stood in my Mother’s front room watching the neighbour who had  reversed into Ref reversing out of his drive, again. Yesterday evening Mum was very down, and voiced what I have been thinking since the accident, she doesn’t know how she can carry on living opposite the man who knocked her husband over and also can’t imagine continually looking out of her window at the place where it happened. Very, very hard.

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I have just had two wonderful days. After a week and a half of working, travelling, supporting and massive sadness I have spent two days back to my ordinary grandmotherly duties of caring for the boys, and it has been so refreshing, they don’t know what has happened. They are not treating me with kid-gloves, discussing the ins and outs of everything, hating the driver, feeling sorry for the driver, planning cremations and memorials, so Nanny has just behaved as Nanny always does, full of life and laughter.

The segway ended at 6.30pm and now I’m back in the twilight zone. The coroner has communicated his findings, cause of death – bronchial pneumonia following massive head injury. The inquest will be opened and adjourned on Tuesday, the coroner hopes to be able to release ‘the body’ after this so then we can schedule the funeral. We have not heard, yet, what the driver will be charged with, if it is ‘causing death’, then his solicitor has the right to demand a second post-mortum and then the coroner cannot release ‘the body’ until the PM has been repeated. What about the rights of the bereaved? This is just prolonging everything, there are too many ‘what ifs’, I don’t like ‘what ifs’ and, where the funeral of her husband is concerned, my Mother dislikes them even more.

My step-father came from a rural background, he had lived all his life in the village on which he had published a history, he was also a mover on the local council so there is to be a memorial service at some point after the funeral, thankfully the movers and groovers, plus the WI, are organising this but our input has been requested. My mother was spouting all these flowery verses, not Ref’s style at all, so I started surfing and found this poem, it is all I want to say  in a nutshell –


God saw you getting tired

and a cure was not to be

so he put his arms around you

and whispered,

“Come to Me”

With tearful eyes we watched you

and saw you pass away

and although we love you dearly

we could not make you stay.

A Golden heart stopped beating

hard working hands at rest.

God broke our hearts to prove to us

                                                                                               he only takes the best



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Good bye

My step-father died early this morning – peacefully. At 5am Sunday morning we were called by the hospital as his condition was deteriorating. We stayed with him until the evening, when we left he was very, very poorly but his condition had not radically altered since our arrival. Keeping vigil around his bed there were times of sadness and tears, moments of silliness and episodes of silence, what is the protocol for behaviour when accompanying a person through their journey to death? Should everyone maintain a respectful silence or was it right that we would joke, encourage Ref to relax and then sing his favorite songs to him? There were also moments of annoyance with those who were caring for him (generally caring very well for him). Why, why take routine bloods from a man who was dying, who wasn’t being given any fluids because of concerns about fluid overload? I asked the extremely junior doctor this, and he replied that they were checking electrolytes. Why? He’s obviously dying. He will be dehydrated. He will have an electrolyte imbalance but does it matter? The doc responded that on Friday the senior doc had requested that the test be done on Sunday. After some verbal badinage (me) and condescending explanations (the doc) he flounced away, without the bloods. Sometimes sense disappears. The results would not affect my stepfathers treatment or condition. The taking of the bloods may have caused Ref more discomfort as his veins had collapsed and, the processing of the bloods at a weekend would had cost the hospital more, for no good reason.

This morning the phone call came just after 6am, my Mum, sister and her fiancee were there 10 minutes before Ref died, I arrived half an hour later. His death had been peaceful, and for that we are all really, really pleased and very grateful to the nurses.

Now the next nightmare begins. There will be a post-mortem, but it will be by a Home Office pathologist as this is now a criminal investigation. Today there has been a call from the coroner; a visit from 2 police officers; a social worker and a bereavement counsellor, plus a visit to the funeral director. Tomorrow the police are meeting with the CPS and then coming back to talk to us and then next week is the preliminary coroner’s inquest. That’s just the official ‘stuff’, there are still all the personal bits and pieces to go through, all those items which continue to epitomise my step-father.

It’s just all so stupid, stupid, unbelievable and ultimately a tragic accident. Taking the dog for a walk one minute, a man reversing, not seeing him, and his life is ended.

Good bye Ref.

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Impossible to forecast

My sister and I have decided to ‘take control’ of the visiting step-dad situation. Mum had been refusing to visit if we were not with her, she lives 5 – 10 minutes away from the hospital, as does my sister, I live an hours drive, minimum, away, my sister and I both work. Sister’s work had been very good allowing her huge flexibility, my work, after an initial response indicating that we were busy due to summer holidays so they were not happy to allow me time off, have responded to pressure from my colleagues and told me I don’t have to work this weekend although I did work my shifts during the week. This situation can’t continue though so, yesterday, my sister told Mum that we are risking ‘using up’ any goodwill from our our employers which may make it difficult if Ref’s worsens. That’s a ridiculous way to express things, his condition now is pretty close to not being able to get much worse without him dying, so I suppose that what I mean is if they tell us, again, that there are only hours left before he shuffles off his mortal coil. Thank heavens, Mum seems to have taken this on board and visited last night by herself, it’s me again today though.

Meanwhile, I haven’t seen a Grandchild in a week now, an unheard of situation. I usually care for the twins on Wednesday and Thursday but, due to the grim news on Tuesday indicating that Ref was going to die very shortly, their Daddy had to have one day off and their Auntie had to look after them the other. It’s like ripples emanating out from Ref’s hospital bed, Mum was initially hit by a tsunami, sister and myself experienced a freak wave, we are now all in the ‘perfect storm’ and those around us are in a heavy swell. In this situation the predictions about how events will unfold are even more unreliable than weather forecasts.

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No ‘ups and downs’ today, just a slow descent to the land of pneumonia. I’m a heartless woman, as my response was ‘Perhaps they should stop his antibiotics’. My sister has been ‘googling’ PVS and has decided that this is where Ref is now, I don’t know, all I do know is, that if this is where he is going to be residing for the rest of his life, then we should not prolong his tenancy.

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Yesterday step-father was moved from ITU to the Stroke Ward. All day he had been really responsive, nodding at me in response to questions, giving me a smile when I came out with some pathetic joke and obviously able to understand ‘commands’. The docs had started him on an anti-convulsant, so he was not twitching and they had passed a naso-gastric tube to enable them to feed him. I was on a high, all the previous gloom and doom had seemed over-kill. ITU was unnaturally quiet and the docs were all sitting round chatting so my sister and I went over to them and asked if they could show us the scans and explain the features. First they put up the scans done when he was admitted and they showed us the large bleed and the brain shift, then they put up the second one showing the large area where the brain had swelled and the effect that the swelling had had on the ventricles, one had been squeezed in and displaced, apparently this is bad.

So yesterday, other than my Mother throwing a complete wobbly, all was wonderful. Yes, once I got home and considered the implications of a large degree of brain damage and my step-dads future abilities, I did descend from my cloud 9 but I was still feeling fairly positive, then I saw him today. Non-responsive, pulse-rate of 170 and having difficulty breathing. The consultant spoke to Mum and told her that they had re-scanned today and discovered that Ref has Pulmonary Embolism, they are not going to treat it. We still went out for Mum’ 80th birthday meal, very subdued and some tears, but we did mark the day. Following the meal we returned to Ref, ready to sit with him through the night, and we were greeted by a responsive man, still on oxygen, still rasping as he breathes but back nodding and, occasionally smiling, so we stayed until 9pm and then came home. No one said that this would be easy but this hope, despair pattern is exhausting.

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The long goodbye

Taken from the Highway Code – Do not reverse from a side road into a main road. When using a driveway, reverse in and drive out if you can.

The neurologist visited today and now all the monitors have been taken away, my step-father has been made ‘comfortable’ and our lives have gone into a strange limbo, we are waiting for him to stop breathing, we are saying goodbye. His GCS continues to fall, his brain continues to swell, apparently his death is inevitable, and all because someone reversed out of a driveway.

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Inane chatter

I am proficient now in talking absolute rubbish for hours on end, and it is so depressing. All I want is some sign that he hears me, that he knows I’m there. I don’t expect a conversation, or even a monosyllabic reply, a flicker of something, anything would be wonderful. Redfers GCS has fallen again today, so they did a repeat scan and discovered that there is now brain swelling. I wasn’t there when the Doc discussed the results but, from what my Mum and sister said, he was preparing them for my stepdad not to recover, did he mean he would be in a Persistent Vegetative State or that he is going to die? I wanted to chat to the doc this evening but there was not one anywhere. I have questions, I asked the nurses but they were unable to answer them. If his brain is swelling why aren’t they giving him steroids to slow it down or reduce it? When he starts twitching is he having small fits? Would an EEG be useful?

I’m feeling very down tonight. It doesn’t matter that he is my stepdad, I would feel it about anyone, but knowing the person whose essence is shut away is heartbreaking.

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