Firstly, let me say thanks again to everyone who's posted here or sent a PM. It means a great deal.
I've alluded here in the recent past to a stressful family situation, and Dad's illness (in combination with Mum's illness and her getting through the treatment for same) was it. We first noticed around the middle of last year that he was slowing down a fair bit. I think he attributed it to increasing age (he turned 70 in January), but while he was, obviously, not getting any younger, it gradually became more and more apparent that there was more wrong with him than just old age, especially as he began to have more trouble breathing.
Eventually he finally went to see his doctor about it, and basically the doctor was useless. Never sent him for any tests, just gave him a ventolin-type puffer to help him breathe when he needed it. We suspect rather strongly that Dad's history of smoking—despite him not having smoked since 1998—prejudiced the quack against giving him much other help. Neither Mum nor I have patronised this fellow for some years (I had a fairly bad experience once thanks to one of his other staff) and needless to say we'll not be darkening his doors again.
Equally needless to say, this puffer thing did Dad no damn good whatsoever and he only got worse, and equally he did himself no favours by refusing to seek any more treatment, until one day he asked Mum would she make an appointment for him with her own doctor. So he went and saw her, she did an assortment of quick tests on him there and booked him in for an assortment of others at the hospital. Later that day he got taken to hospital after collapsing at the shopping centre, and was in there for nearly two weeks.
Finally we had a name for what was wrong with him:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiopathic ... y_fibrosis
In short, scarring of the lungs with no immediately discernible cause. It could have been a result of 45 years of smoking, or it could have been the 18 years he spent working around chemicals for ICI, or it could've been the eight-odd years he spent as a young man working down the pit (Mum and Dad both come from a mining community in Scotland). Or it could've been absolutely none of those things. We were told at the time the damage to Dad's lungs could not be undone, but with cortisone treatment they might be able to roll it back to how he was a few months earlier. Not good, but at least not as bad as he currently was.
We had him at home for another four weeks or so. On the way to the hospital for a check-up with his specialist, he had what I still think (in spite of what the specialist later told Mum) was a heart attack. We were told, pretty much, to expect the worst. He was in intensive care for four days before they moved him into the general respiratory ward, and he continued to improve over the next couple of weeks, to the point where we were told we could probably get him home on Monday (i.e. the 25th), although by this time it was clear he wasn't responding to the cortisone treatment and the degree of care he would need at home was going to be much higher than it had been before.
On the Sunday morning he took a turn for the worse suddenly. By the time Mum and I got into the hospital in the afternoon to see him, he was hooked up to a machine delivering twenty litres
of oxygen to him cos he was in so much strife breathing (he couldn't breathe without some sort of assistance—here at home he was hooked up to an oxygen concentrator, and if he needed to go out he had to carry a portable oxygen cylinder, which, given the amount of oxygen he needed, would only give him about an hour and a half at most—but up to this point he'd not needed so much) and he could barely talk because 1) you couldn't make him out through the mask anyway and 2) trying to talk lowered his oxygen levels too much. While we were there, he got moved into a room of his own (thank God for which fact, I would not have wanted him to go in that ward) and the doctor spoke to us, and when he said he didn't think Dad was going to last long enough even to be taken off to the hospice, I knew then the end wasn't far enough. We lost him at 9pm that night.
The funeral was yesterday. Weather was better than expected, about 100 people showed up, and everything went as smoothly as you could hope for. As Mum said afterwards, Dad would've enjoyed it himself.
I have to stop now. Thanks for reading, folks.