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Monday, 6 July 2020

"I Wasn't Expecting That"


Seven weeks ago.

Tuesday.
A day like any other.

We woke early.
Nass walked down the garden with Elsa.
As he always does.

The sun was up.
We had plans for the day.

A day like any other.


I worked on business emails on the tablet.
Propped up in bed, occasionally gazing across the field opposite.
Elsa joined me, idly watching the horses grazing outside our window.




A day like any other.


















Nass brought me coffee.
As he always does.
I laugh and say he wants to keep me upstairs.
He can watch the early news programmes in peace.
Channel hop as much as he likes.

A day like any other.






Only it wasn't........

" I  don't feel so good. "


Not like him at all.
He never comments on how he is feeling.
His MS is a pain in the backside.
But he never moans.

So I took notice.
" What's up?"
" I've got a pain in my shoulder and my arm hurts. "
"Nass, that sounds like the heart. We need to get that checked. "
"Nah. It's probably just the way I slept. "

And he went downstairs.

Seconds later, I hadn't even picked up the cup, I heard the crash.
Running down calling his name, I knew something was very wrong.

But I wasn't prepared for what I saw.

Nass lying on the floor.
Completely still.
On his side.
Unconscious.
Changing colour.

I tried to roll him.
Old nurse training kicking in.
Think, think.

Airway.
Breathing.
Pulse.

He was too heavy for me.

I grabbed the phone.
"Is the patient responding?"

If I answer all these questions he will be dead.

Running next door I hammered on the letterbox.
No answer.



Ran back inside.

Tried to turn Nass.

No, can't do it.

Shouted through next door's letterbox.

They had heard the crash and were pulling on clothes.

In spite of self-isolating, Theo ran in.

He performed CPR.

I cleared the airway and did mouth to mouth.
In between, I whispered,

"Come back to us Nass, come back."

Elsa watched from a distance with wide, terrified eyes.

She adores Nass.



The ambulance arrived quickly.





They said we were lucky, they were only up the road at Crossbush.

The team took over.
Slick.
Professional.
Caring.
Sensitive.

One said
" Who owns the horses in the field opposite?"
" There is a number to phone on the gate."



Arundel stables were over, moving their horses in minutes.

Thank goodness for the field.

Where else could you land a helicopter in Arundel....
......unless you're the Duke?

Nass was put on a trolley and out into the road.
The team made their final checks.

They were so calm.

Used to doing this.

They wheeled Nass along the road, into the field and onto the Air Ambulance.

Isn't it the strangest thoughts you have during life's scariest moments?
"Nass will love the drama of it all."

The team were discussing.

"Brighton or Portsmouth?"

The helicopter lifted off and took him to Portsmouth hospital.

One minute nearer. Time was crucial.

I heard afterwards about the little girl down our road.

She adores Nass and he, her.

She waved up at the helicopter from her back garden saying to Mummy and Daddy,

" I'm sending all my love up to Nass in that helicopter.
Don't any of you ask for any love today as I won't have any more to give. "

My neighbour Lisa drove me to Portsmouth.
She even thought of bringing us a coffee each to drink in the car.

Arriving at the hospital now is not like it's ever been.
You can't get in easily.
Difficult to park.
It's mostly staff parking.

The security guard said we could park in the police bay.

We spoke to the doctor.
I wouldn't have remembered a word.
Thank goodness for a sensible friend.

I spent two days answering texts, phone calls and messages.

All three phones going at once
Mine, Nass's and the house.

The devastated family in Iran were trying for video calls at 5 am, forgetting the time difference.
Calling day and night, I didn't know how to explain.
Their English is ok for brief chats.
My farcie only good enough to say simple phrases like
"Where is the toilet?"
And " I'm starving, what's for dinner?"

Thank goodness for Google translate and our Iranian friend who was at Slindon College with Nass.

Affectionately known as Sandbag he took over family communications.
Then he was the one being woken early.

Elsa trawled the house looking for Nass.

After two days, as things quietened down, the realisation hit.
" He almost died..... he still might."

People left flowers on the doorstep.
Handed food over the fence.

Walked in the hills with Elsa and me,
listening while I went over and over the event.

People are amazing.

Even during this time of lockdown they still pour out to friends in crisis.

Nass was put on a ventilator.
Of course, I never saw him, impossible in these covid days.

He's such a fighter.
MS hasn't been a walk in the park..but...shortly after diagnosis, Nass ran the Brighton marathon for the Chestnut Tree Children's Hospice.






and the Arundel 10k

In aid of Brain Tumour Charity and for a little girl in the US.

Neice of one of our US trade clients, Caty Ross had touched both our hearts.
In and out of hospital since birth, Nass wanted to raise money to give her a treat.
And raise it he did.
A lot.


Then when he felt he couldn't run as his legs were playing up......what did he do?
He bought a bike and did the London to Brighton bike ride.
56 miles.

For the British Heart Foundation. 


He had never cycled in his life.




But this.....
I thought we had lost him for sure.
He won't beat this.

Two days after his arrival in Portsmouth hospital they took him off the ventilator.
I was on the other end of the phone.

Christian the nurse said
" Nass, Brennie sends her love."
" Christian, what's he saying?"
" He's smiling."

Elsa was jumping around and barking at the sound of Nass's name.
Christian said
" What's her name?"
" Elsa. Tell him she sends her love."
" He's really smiling now."






As they handed him the phone I was crying with relief.
But...
I couldn't understand him.

I asked Nass to give the phone back to the nurse.
"Christian what's he saying. Is it the brain or the tube?"

" Its because he has had the tube in his throat. He is saying, "I  want to come home."

That's Nass.

Thank goodness for WhatsApp as I couldn't visit due to Covid.
I watched as he grew a little stronger by the day.

What I didn't know until Nass came home was his heart had stopped twice more in hospital.

They almost lost him.


Nass was home in time for the final Thursday night NHS clap.

Neighbours hadn't realised he was home.

Well, it was only a week.

They were ecstatic.

The clapping and shouting could be heard all along Fitzalan Road.

Weirdly enough, the 3 horses in the field at the time, stood in a line.


Thanks so much to everyone supporting us.
Especially Arundel and in particular Fitzalan Road.

All the texts, emails and calls.
Sometimes too many to answer individually.

Huge thanks to NHS of course.

Theo, for saving Nass's life.
All those friends who provided food and support.
Sandbag for his immense patience.

All staff on C7 at Portsmouth Hospital.
Ambulance crew
Friends and neighbours
Air Ambulance
Arundel stables.

The cardiac team from St Richards Hospital                                                                                                                                                                           


All the kind people who left cards, flowers, wine and homemade cakes and biscuits.

I have never seen so many get-well cards.

As for flowers, I ran out of vases. 

They were in jam jars all over the house.

And apologies to friends I haven't around to contacting.

It's been quite a month.


The patient is doing well. 

It's hard getting him to take it easy. Of course, it is. This is Nass we are talking about. 

You will find him down our antiques warehouse most days.

If you find him lifting anything.......report him.


Nass's reaction to what happened?


He can often be heard singing, loudly, out of tune, (as usual)

"I WASN'T EXPECTING THAT"


                                                                                                                                                    

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Born on the 4th of July (Adoption)


I always wanted children and in 
the traditional sense, in those days, that was a baby.

My ex-husband and I 
went through years of tests.

Everywhere I looked, 





friends were having families.

Visiting hospitals to see newborns?

Just couldn't do it.

Got as far as the ward door once, turned,
 and ran to the car park in tears.

 I knew I should be happy for them.
But I was so envious of their growing families.

It must be really hard for anyone
 in the same position these days.
With social media such a huge part of our lives.

My Mum used to phone and say,
" So and so has just had the baby."

" Don't you want to know what it is?"

" Well, it can only be a boy or a girl"
 I always replied sarcastically,
 before slamming down the phone.

We wanted a child.
Boy or girl was not an issue.

We decided to look at adoption.

But didn't know where to go.
No internet in those days


One wet January evening
 I was locked out of my house.

Long day at the office.
 
Forgotten my key.

Tired and fed up I stood shivering on the doorstep.

A neighbour, who I didn't know that well,  called out,

"Come and have a cup of tea until your husband gets home."


Her daughter was adopted. 

I never realised.

Why would you?

Just a normal happy family.

"Why don't you try this adoption society in Peckham?
 That's where we went."

Katy and Jay had such a bond.
She would come round to play with him after school each day.

Mickey Mouse was the only possession Jay had from his days with birth mum.



The information evening was interesting.

The social worker gave the small group, 
3 case histories. 
Jay's was one of them.



After the talk, when everyone was chatting and drinking coffee, 
we were looking at Jay's photo and I whispered to my husband

"Oh look isn't he beautiful."




" Would you like to find out more about that little boy?"

said the social worker who happened to be standing behind us.


The worker assigned
 to our case hadn't 
met Jay.

The day she visited him for the first time,

she stopped off at a phone box on the long drive back to London. 


She sounded excited.

"You are perfect for each other, 
your temperaments match  completely."

Something happened..to this day I don't know what it was.

We had met Jay only a few times 
he had never been to our house and stayed.

It wouldn't happen today.

Afterwards, I thought they were trying to move 
him from his foster placement quickly, 
for some reason known only to them.

On one of my visits, the social worker
 asked if I would take Jay home
 the next time I came to see him. 

(the card I never thought I would receive)

Three days later.
(Mickey Mouse went everywhere with us.
We once dropped him on the track at Victoria Station.
Had to wait until the train departed.
A worker jumped down to retrieve the precious Mickey.)



I drove over in my yellow 2CV, 
which was to become such a huge part of our lives.

We would go everywhere in that little car.


On the way, I stopped off for a cup of tea in Tenterden 

and found a goose lamp in a shop, on sale.
It was his night light for years.



When I arrived, 
Jay had pulled all his pictures off the wall 
He was packed and ready.

Taking my hand,
" Come on Mum, let's go"

 I could barely see through the tears.


He was small for his age.
Undernourished.
Introvert.

Life had been tough for him over those first four years.

There was sadness in those huge brown eyes.

Although we had read his history,
 I'm sure we never knew the half of it.

I vowed then to make his life the best I possibly could.

It happened in such a whirl.
When we arrived home I was in shock.


I was working at a playschool at the time
 and used to children of that age.


I thought I would automatically be brilliant.
How arrogant can you be?

First day at Sion School in Worthing


But brilliant doesn't happen overnight.

 I expected to feel a huge surge of love immediately.


It doesn't happen like that though, does it?


It grows and like all relationships, you get out what you put in.


Suddenly, here I was with a little person 24 hours a day.

It was a real shock to the system.

I felt emotional all the time.


 I wasn't making a good enough job of things.

Didn't know what he ate, his likes and dislikes.

I struggled to know what to feed him.

I never cooked convenience food,
 whole foods were my thing. 


I remember in desperation asking 
" Well, what DO you like?"
and in a quiet shy voice, almost a whisper, he replied,
" I.....I...... I do like cheesecake"






I  made cheesecake,  from scratch.

He picked at it

" I thought you said you liked cheesecake?"

" Yes, but only out of a packet!"







Annecy holidays


We used to visit friends in Annecy,
 France most years while Jay was young.

The area is beautiful.
The friends special.

Val was renowned for her French Mousse au Chocolat.
Made it from the finest ingredients.
Put a lot of time and love into it.

" Oh!" Said Jay as he put the first mouthful in,
 "Aunty Val.  Your Instant Whip is lovely."

Val was speechless.
We still laugh about it to this day.
And at least he liked it.

We got through the early hurdles and soon after,
 I knew I loved this little boy, 
more than I had loved anyone in my life. (Sorry Mum)

I never  thought you could have such
feeling for a child you had not given birth to.

 I still have that yellow shirt ?..can't seem to part with it.


One day home from college Jay said,

" My mates at college are really jealous of our relationship"

"Why Jay?"

" Because it's so strong and they say they
 don't have that with their own mothers"

" How do they know?"

" Ma, they just see us together"



Over the years, like any mother
I have been so proud of  Jay's achievements.


From an early age, he took an interest in clothes and even did a spot of modelling.





this was a photoshoot for a Clothkits catalogue 







had a wonderful sense of humour,



loved his skateboard, loved to travel.





We found out much later several members

 of Jay's birth family had been in fashion





After studying for a menswear fashion degree,
at the local Northbrook College, in Worthing, he graduated with flying colours,

( Incidentally,  Northbrook were the first college in Europe to offer the degree)

Determined to end up in NYC..against all odds he got there.


Not the first time, when he borrowed money to fly to the US for interviews.


On his return, he said they felt he was good,

but needed more experience.






"So Jay, what are you going to do next?"

He grinned.
" Get more experience Ma ,of course"

He did.


And was taken on by Ecko Unltd in New York.
Which is where he met Krista.





One day when Jay and Krista came back to visit 

we managed to get all four birth brothers together.


Other guests at the party were crying
birth brothers re-united


the first time the brothers  got together

Nass and I miss him terribly


Oh! I forgot to tell you, I gained even more out of this than a wonderful son.

When my ex-husband and I divorced 
,
I joined the school PTA to keep me busy.




We organised a  Summer Ball and as a result I
was spending more and more time at Jay's school.

So, my bonus?
Dating the PE teacher .

that's Jay 2nd from the left...and his PE teacher..Nass

Jay was mortified when he found out.
His old mother dating the young PE teacher was beyond embarrassing.

But it wasn't long before they got on.
They are firm friends now.




If you are considering adoption...do go and find out.


Be patient, though, it's a lot of interviews 
and social workers poking into all areas of your life.

But...a million times over..its worth it












Jay designed his wedding suit...every attention to detail was considered...even the cuff links were vintage UK sixpences





Jay, Krista, and their lovely daughter live in the US.

We are so very proud of the man he became.

A loving father and husband
Well-loved and respected by co-workers and community.

Happy Birthday Jay.

from everyone over

 this side of the pond.

Have the most wonderful day


We miss you so much

xxx