Monday, 16 March 2020

Dan

Today I'm re-posting some shots from Bath and of the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases.  Unfortunately I'm not re-posting them for a good reason...

I found out a couple of days that my mate Dan has passed away.  Dan was a year or so younger than me and was a regular attendee at 'The Min', as the hospital is affectionally known (The Mineral Water Hospital, a nod to the healing powers of the Bath Springs that dates back to Roman times and earlier). Dan had probably one of the worst cases of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) I've known - totally fused neck and spine due to the formation of bony growths between the joints, the main problem with AS.  He had both hips replaced and also his TMJs - the temporomandibular joints (the ones that allows your jaw to open and close).  As a result he found it very difficult to open his mouth very far, which made eating and drinking problematic - when he was last well enough to visit us here in The Liberties a good few years ago my wife had to cut up his food for him. Added to that he couldn't tolerate the medications very well, so spend long periods of his life on steroids and crazy strong 'old' drugs they don't normally prescribe nowadays.  One of the side-effects was near constant iritis (inflammation of the iris of the eye), which required steroid drops into the eye every day for over a year.  I can tell you from personal experience that when your neck and back are fused putting drops in your eye is not the easiest thing to do.  So yes, it's fair to say life dealt Dan a pretty poor hand.

The Min, in the centre of Bath.  Needs a good clean to show off the sandstone brick properly.  The building is now a hotel...the services of The Min have moved to the newer hospital on the outskirts of the town.

In spite of his poor health, Dan kept himself busy and was always a good guy to be around.  He got immense enjoyment from his live music (he was a huge fan of Wilko Johnson but went to pretty much any gig he could get to in his home town). He loved his football, too, and was still able to go to home games at The Amex, the new ground for Brighton and Hove Albion ("The Seagulls").  He liked his books.  And he was a member of the Sons of the Desert - the Laurel and Hardy Appreciation Society.  Dan was a huge supporter of NASS - the UK organisation for sufferers of Ankylosing Spondylitis and their families.  He founded and ran a local self-help group for sufferers in his home town, which met every week, providing physiotherapy and hydrotherapy as well as emotional support.  Dan made the best of his situation.



Life in The Min, Bath, 2018

As if things couldn't get any worse for Dan, the plot thickened a year or so ago, when his kidneys decided not to function as well as they should.  He was forced to start kidney dialysis - three times a week at his local hospital (which meant he could no longer get to Bath for treatment).  He was waiting to see if a transplant became available when he went into hospital last week for his usual dialysis.  This isn't the place to go into details (and the full story is as yet unknown - post-portem and inquest are pending) but suffice to say an event occurred which meant he couldn't be saved.


A rich history of helping people with arthritis in The Royal National


It wasn't meant to end this way.  Nothing directly associated with his AS.  Not having a bad fall on some ice or snow.  Not run over by a bus he didn't see when crossing the road.  Not due to complications with his medications.  No, what started out as a relatively 'normal' day for Dan ended in his demise - and in a hospital of all places, surrounded by healthcare professionals.

The Raven, close to 'The Min', Bath

My best memories of Dan are from the many, many courses we attended in Bath together.  The craic was always great when Dan was around and in the evenings he was up for a beer or two in one of the local hostelries (like The Raven, above), which helped us get through what was a totally unreal experience...couped up for 2 weeks of physical therapy with a dozen or so strangers from all walks of life.  He was one of the good guys.   I'll miss him.




6 comments:

  1. I'm sorry you lost your friend, Michael, especially since it happened in such an inexplicable way.

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    1. Thanks Jim. It was a shock to all his friends & family. We still can’t take it in.

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  2. I'm really sorry for your loss, Michael. Such a sad story, and just the right sort of photographs to go along with it.

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    1. Thanks Roy. The whole story was awful from start to finish. Made worse by the fact it happened when he was in hospital.

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  3. Sorry to hear about the unexpected loss of your friend. It can't be easy.

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    1. Thank you Marcus. We're all still reeling from it, truth be told. And more than a little angry about the whole thing.

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