I'd always imagined myself good in a crisis. I'd always thought "Yes, I'm not the most proactive person I know but if suddenly called upon to think quickly and get people out of a hole, that's where I'll shine, that's when - as Rob Webb predicted on the night of February the 7th - the sleeper will wake". I now know however this is not the case. Woken in the bath later that night by a room full of smoke, staggering out onto the landing clutching towels and dressing gown to find smoke again, drawn to my room by the sound of burning to find my bed on fire, and smoke (which may or may not but basically must have had something to do with this), and now rendered numpty by shame I run down to the kitchen where, uncharacteristically, there is no smoke, and fill a bowl with water.
We have a fire extinguisher. It is in the bathroom.
Running naked back to my room (totally disregarding, as John Finnemore later pointed out in an email entitled "too soon?" Gareth Edwards' countless announcements before every radio recording to run TOWARDS the green lights in the event of a fire and AWAY from the red flickering lights) I throw what water has not been spilt onto the bed. This doesn't work. If you've seen the film The Dead Zone it is not like that. It is basically just smoke. I run upstairs and go "Guys? Fire?" I don't know who else is in the house.
Well it transpired Dan was in the house, shouting out of the window for help which arrived to wake and walk me naked out of the front door and into an ambulance. Then Dan, having saved my life and also on his way to hospital, called Tom who had a number for my parents in France, who in turn called my sister. At about five in the morning, having been conscious enough to give my date of birth and permission to pierce my eardrum so I could be wheeled anesthetized into something called a hyperbaric chamber (in fact this very one) where work could indeed continue on the git, I regained consciousness a third time to find myself wearing a plastic hood and surrounded by my family, over from France PDQ. This was very weird and cheering, as was the news that Dan had already been discharged and that I hadn't killed anyone... and now I'm going to hand over to my sister, who has kept possibly most of you readers up to date via her status updates, notes, and groups on facebook. I'll butt in once or twice, and illustrate it with a few photos of the Nightingale Ward, but I want to put her account up here first.
11:57am Susy's brother Simon was in a fire and is in intensive care. Facebook status not best way to let you guys know. Please keep yor fingers crossed, thanks.
11:57pm Susy is tired but relieved. Simon still in intensive care but "out of danger" apparently. Even tried to crack a joke. Thank you so much for all the good wishes.x.
Simon can't take visitors yet, as he's still in ICU. If/when (fingers crossed) he can see you lot I'll let you know asap. Thanks again, so so much xx.
Simon compos mentis, although still with oxygen and a lot of coughing. He'll get there. We all feel so grateful. Si says he feels very rich with such friends."
(the room in which I spent two and a half weeks)
Apologies if I've tagged you and you barely know Simon - I'm trying to cover everyone who might know him and/or want to know how he's getting on.
Simon knows I've been updating my Facebook status about him, and so has written a note to send to you all:
'Hello Hello Everyone.
Thank you so much for all your support. I am fine. Well, I'm not, I'm wheezy, but I'm getting better and all the carbon monoxide was pumped out of me two days ago in a weird kind of submarine. My burns are superficial and cool and anyway only on my bum. I am in a bed opposite a woman with swollen legs called Robert. It's all good.
Go Mickey Rourke! Go Susy! Cheers. There'll be updates here as and when...
Simon seems to be stronger today, although he isn't quite out of the woods. He is still needing oxygen and they'll be doing a series of tests tomorrow to work out how damaged his lungs really are and how fast or slowly they're recovering. Fingers crossed he'll be able to cope without the oxygen soon. His progress in these short four days has been miraculous though. He couldn't speak two days ago. He has a voice now.
From my entirely non-scientific perspective he can talk for far longer than yesterday before getting tired, which says to me he's getting stronger. He is coughing almost constantly but that is essential to get the shit up out of his lungs, which he seems to be. His friends Rufus and Ella visited him today which cheered him up no end.
As long as he isn't totally bombarded, and people realise he may get tired (and will cough constantly) he is happy for anyone else who wants to visit him to do so.
He is positive, determined to get better, philosophical, in good humour (he doesn't know any other kind of course) and relieved beyond belief about... everything. He is also moved beyond words and so very grateful for the support both he and my family have been given by you all. As are we.
Special shout out to his housemates, and Tom Brodie (stage name Lyall) in particular, who was still laying out individual drawings, letters, paintings and photos all over his new flat once we'd left him this evening that he had rescued from days of sifting through the - frankly destroyed - room. Many personal and irreplaceable items are damp, charred, but OK and safe purely thanks to Tom, and without him Simon really would have lost everything. If you know him, please give him a hug. Or a manly pint. Or five."
(To which it's only fair to say Tom then added "You're awfully sweet about me but, really, clearing the house has been a group effort and as much and more credit must go to Dan, Seb, Jamie, Wendy, Naomi, Selina, Lucy, Tom F. and other friends, family and neighbours, who have faced up to a truly horrible job with amazing strength and good humour." Back to Susy:)
"As per the last few days (do look back over them if this is all news to you!) I'll keep updating my status on his progress. The recovery curve will be less steep now, as the hardest fight of all - ie not dying - is over and Si's into the long boring slog of recuperating. He's very positive about the future though - he's seeing it as an exciting new start. We also have photos of various stages of the last few days, as macabre as that is - but they're not for the faint hearted so I'll let him post them when he's back on his 'blog'. As you'll see Simon remained hilarious even when smacked out on drugs and his brain was 40% carbon monoxide. Amazing stuff." (LATE POST: Yeah I've now put up one of those photos just before the 9th, me in the hood as a human USB port.) "Thank you all again. I'll keep you posted via my status. Mum and me (Dad's gone back to France to prepare for his heart surgery - brilliant) will be in every day but may miss you... Simon likes grapes. And there is indeed a large woman opposite him called Robert."
(Not true actually. I later learnt Robert was a man. My first night on the ward was weirdly punctuated by him quoting almost verbatim a Dungeon script: 'Can you smell it? Have a whiff! Go on, have a whiff!' On Friday I learn they're going to 'keep me in over the weekend'. Back to Susy:)
"Love and thanks to you all,
Sorry for not updating sooner. Simon went in for tests today, where they sent a camera and sample taker (I may have made that term up) into his lungs and his throat to have a proper look at the extent of the damage. The good news is his lungs look like there won't be too much lasting damage and will, in time, recover by themselves, which of course is amazing.
The not so great news is he's had a fever now for nearly four days. Simon was forcing himself to cough and cough to try and get the stuff up out of his lungs, which has gone from black to red to green, and is very possibly the reason his lungs look set to eventually repair. But in so doing - and he had been trying to talk too much to us and visitors too - he made his throat red raw and inflamed, or even more so as he had an oxygen tube down there, and now today with the tests further things going down there which hasn't helped.
After the tests today Simon was put on extra strong antibiotics, but he had an allergic reaction which was pretty scary and very 'House' and immediately had to be taken off them. He's very red. He's back on heavy oxygen too to try and open his lungs back up after the tests. After he had recovered from the reaction and the crisis calmed down he looked at my Mum's tear stained face and did manage to croak : 'Well at least it's alleviated the boredom'.
(Hmm, the thing is it genuinely DID alleviate the boredom, at least SOMETHING was happening to my body. I wasn't being brave. And it's not like I flat-lined or anything. No I was clearly having a better time of this than anyone else. Back to Susy:)
"So we sit and wait and hope the fever comes down. Meanwhile we're telling only good bits of news to Dad who is down in France waiting to go in for heart surgery on Monday. We want to keep him calm obviously so if you now him please only mention you hear Si's doing well and his lungs will recover. Mum will have to go down this weekend to look after him so I'll be looking after Si alone after that, and God willing he gets over this fever and gets back on his feet he'll probably stay with me at mine while he reaclimatises to the outside world again, and while Dad recovers we hope back at Mum and Dad's. That's the plan anyway. Fingers crossed/pray it happens, and that you can all come visit and play offensively named card games with the two of us round at mine.
Sorry for the unbouncey tone. Mum and I were far bouncier yesterday. It goes in waves. I'll update with a new note if/when there's changes or more news. For now though any positive vibes sent Si (and my Dad)'s way much appreciated.
Thanks so much again for all your messages of support,
Simon's fever came down today, although he still has the infection (Fungi, apparently, possibly from the carbon monoxide poisoning but also possibly from flowers, grapes or cherries. So no more flowers for now, I'm afraid, although they all look lovely now in the day room.)
So he is a lot more comfortable today, and has started to be able to concentrate a little, enough to read a short article, or write a short TEXT (yes he now has a phone. But no voice. DON'T CALL him! OR email him as he can't concentrate long enough. But you can now text him, which is splendid. Don't overload him though or his brain will melt). But multi-tasking is even more of a no-no for him at present than it was before the fire.
He is still too vulnerable for visitors at present, but as I said he can write texts now - please be frugal at first while he gets his brain in gear - and do bear in mind he is very weak and exhausted, so keep things brief for now if possible. He is, wonderfully, still absolutely Simon though.
One thing he's found is that the Carry On films and Only When I Laugh and the like are big fat liars. Simon always thought being in hospital would mean debonairing it about and holding court like David Niven in A Matter of Life and Death. Apparently it isn't like that at all. It's just shit.
They were selling us a LIE.
Simon IS starting to get quite Niven like today though, in my opinion, and the nurses seem to agree. So I've posted these photos me and my Mum took today. We are now thinking of hiring him out.
Much much love to you all and, for now, much momentary relief,
(Susy then set up the SIMON KANE IN HOSPITAL group, while I had a psychotic episode.)
Simon has asked me to set up this group, so people can talk, post, and he can hopefully take over from me when he is a bit better and out of hospital. Do let people know - it will mean I can be more self-indulgent with my own status updates, and we can liaise about visits/what to do when you're there/not going in when ill/WASHING YOUR HANDS that sort of thing.
Leave messages for Simon here too and I will pass them on (or get in touch personally if your message is more poysonel).
Simon had a wobble today as he is allergic to the steroids they put him on (like he was with the antibiotics two days ago, poor chap). But he's off them now and has calmed back down again. Still weak, still no voice, and must still rest...
He's recorded a video I will try and post up, although it's hard to hear so I may have to transcribe it.
And today he wrote this note for you all:
'Little Note from Simon'
This is incredibly selfish of me - I am still weak and mad off steroids which they have happily stopped - but it would be WONDERFUL to see people. BUT I may not be able to speak.
Have you seen that episode of "Fawlty Towers" where Connie Booth Stuffs cotton wool in her cheeks and Ken Campbell says "What about a choc ice?" It might be as disappointing as that. But seeing friends may keep me from going completely Christian Bale. Check with Sis.
Thankyou everyone. Do come.'
Sorry about this, but...
This is the situation with Simon's throat. The bacterial (fungal) infection hasn't gone away." (This is because I was shouting a lot because I'd gone mad.) "The series of drugs they have been trying to combat it have all so far had adverse effects, some quite dramatic, and these have set back Simon's progress. There is already a danger of long term scarring on his vocal chords which could in turn lead to lifetime respiratory problems. If Simon's infection doesn't clear up soon this could be much much worse.
BUT... when Simon sees his friends, he wants to talk to them. He was still 'up' from the steroid psychosis today and talked/croaked for a couple of hours to visitors. The Sister is very concerned about this, and although Si doesn't want to worry people, or not have visitors, as his sister I kinda have to do what's best long term for Simon.
SO... if I could please ask the following: before you go in to visit Simon, please call me first. This way I can stagger visits so he doesn't have too much on one day (I'm thinking one to two visits per day for the next crucial three days). The gelling of hands, not going in with any lurgy, and now not bringing in any fruit or flowers or any unpackaged food goes without saying.
But most of all, if/when you do visit him, you MUST insist he hardly speaks, if at all. This is imperative. If possible, have some reason why you can only stay 15/20 minutes mx. This will keep his speaking to a minimum, and will also mean he gets a rest between visits. It's a hell of a trek out there so you may well feel it's not worth it until his infection has gone, or until he's out and staying at mine. In which case you can always write to him, or send him books, mix CDs, audio book CDs etc, or just a card. Or even a text (NO CALLS though, obviously!)
Sorry for being so Nurse Ratchety. The next few days are crucial though. I'll be in every day until our Dad's op so can relay messages and organise visits. Do get in touch with me first though, just for the next three or so days.
Thanks. Sorry. But thanks.
(To which Ned added: "He needs drink. He told me in a dream." to which Susy added: "That's reliable enough evidence for me, Neil. I'll leave it to you to smuggle it in.")
(I'd get through three of these a day, then gave up replacing them and just emptied the contents down the sink. Said contents always departed as one slow almost sentient blob.)
So Mum's gone back to France now to look after Dad and I am officially Big Mamma now.
The great news today was that they halved the amount of oxygen Simon is dependent on and he is coping with that fine. It's a moral boost for him especially as it's tangible evidence of his improvement. And once he's off the oxygen entirely he'll be able to stray away from one corner of one long ward, which will be brilliant for him. That and getting rid of the infection are the main things keeping him in hospital, so it's a great step forward for now.
He's being very good though at present and whispering instead of trying to talk - if you do visit him do make sure he keeps this up, even if his throat feels a bit better.
The main thing at present though for potential visitors is keeping him CALM. The steroids had an adverse effect and that is still working its way out of his body, so if you overload him with information, talk too animatedly, get him too excited/passionate/angry/amused etc he will start to go a bit manic again. You'll see when it starts to happen."
(I was not aware of this. Or at least I was not aware Susy was aware of this.)
"Try and remember to act very chilled, laid back, and gentle when you see him. He may well be back to normal by tomorrow but his heart rate has been raised and he mustn't get too agitated, which is tricky when he sees his lovely pals. Just talk gently, calm him back down, take the conversation slowly and just be a soothing, warm presence for him. The Dude abides.
I'll be in every day quietly watching films with him so do get in touch. I may not be in til 4 some days though. (visiting hours 2:30 - 7:30). And of course we do need to stagger visits so liaise with me if you can.
Tonight though, Mum is back safely with Dad in France, and Simon was looking good. Blood test/infection results to follow. I'm off for that threesome with Messrs Pinot and Nitol."
(To which Ned added: "That time when they thought I had AIDS but it turned out to be weird pneumonia that escaped my lungs into my skin, I was on steroids for three months. On my first day out of hospital - as soon as my girlfriend had gone to work - I picked up a lump hammer and demolished a ramshackle conservatory. In my pyjamas. Steroids are DIY hulkage." I'm going to write more about this psychotic episode later. My episode. Not Ned's. I took notes.)
(my little morning manga face of pills)
"Simon is on half the oxygen he was on, and finding that fine, and is hoping to be off oxygen entirely pretty soon. This may even coincide with him coming off his (two) antibiotics. Once he's off oxygen he'll be able to leave the ward for a bit and take a stroll, hurrah (there's a small duck pond which is very nice I want to show him), and then if he's doing ok after all that he will soon be able to leave and come to mine to recuperate there for a bit. From my POV he's looking SO so much better. He must still whisper for now though. Thankyou.
Hi all. Confused new members, in brief: Simon was in a fire at his house, it was very bad, he's lost all his stuff and he was very very ill, but now he's out of intensive care and has been slowly recovering with a couple of scary setbacks. There. Now you're all up to date. Here's the latest news as of this morning:
Simon saw the doctor today who said his infection is clearing up, according to his recent blood tests, his chest is sounding pretty good and they have halved his oxygen to only one point, which is, obviously, one away from no points, which is none. So if all continues Simon may be out LATER THIS WEEK. Which is brilliant brilliant news.
He'll be staying at mine in Hampstead for a bit once he's out so you'll be forced to liaise with Nursey if you want to visit. My mobile is ------ --- ---. Don't pass that around willy nilly though. I'm not a strumpet.
(one of two views of Leytonstone afforded by the Nightingale Ward. The other was a car park. Both looked wonderful.)
Hello all. Simon has come off the oxygen, and the heavy antibiotics, and is being discharged TOMORROW. HUZZAH!
I have to manically tidy my flat now and set up a room for him, so give him a couple of days to get used to being out of hospital and then perhaps people can pop by if they wish to say hi. Drop us a line.
And for those that know our Dad, he's out of heart surgery and in intensive care, but it went smoothly. Next 24 hours crucial but they're not foreseeing any problems touch wood. So fingers crossed.
Oh, and if anyone wants to take NURSEY out for a drink after all this Kane men shit that would be much appreciated too."
And so yes I'm back on f*c*b**k until my life reboots. Thank you Susy, and thank you everyone, to be continued but while I'm here, here are some answers:
FUN PAGE - My understanding of what an Olympic village should look like in 2012...
FUN PAGE 3.1 - The famous "Montauk Robert Palmer Hoax" which can still be seen lying unswept in the corner of the Instruments Room of the Horniman...
FUN PAGE 3.2 - Rhetorical question.
(Not Susy and me. But very nearby.)