Personal Views

My mother's name was Jan

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7377.1429 (Published 14 December 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1429
  1. Kevin Perrett, consultant in communicable disease control
  1. South Yorkshire Health Protection Service

My parents recently celebrated their golden wedding. Friends and family, including my parents' 10 grandchildren, gathered for a memorable party to toast 50 years of love and partnership.

The following week mum and dad went to Paris for a romantic holiday and had three lovely days strolling hand in hand in the sunshine. Early on the fourth morning mum collapsed from a massive subarachnoid haemorrhage. I was at the hospital in Paris by early evening and stayed six days until, after a series of battles, we brought mum home, still in a deep coma, by air ambulance.

The language barrier was our first major problem, just as it must be for so many of our patients in the NHS. The key doctors spoke excellent English, so we had clear medical information, but the nurses did not. My GCSE level French was enough to communicate only a few basics. It was not nearly enough to develop a rapport with the nurses in whom we had to entrust mum's care. Like the stroke …

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