9.30pm 17 sept 2015. I was sitting on the toilet, feeling grateful for the fact that my first born had reached 6 months old (you count every milestone with your first). I looked and saw my phone was flashing; “bobby mann” @bobby_modifier my cousin. We rarely speak and its even more unusual for him to call at night and so I answer.
He explains that he got a call from my brothers work friend to say that he’s been taken in an ambulance. He said they used a defibrillator on him?! Deep down i knew what that meant (defibrillator = heart attack) but tried to think positive, especially since there was nothing wrong with him and he had gone to work fine that day (he was the security manager at the national history museum). He said he was leaving for St Thomas hospital in London which was where my brother had been taken. I told him id meet him there. I walked upstairs into a dark room where my wife was trying to settle my son and told her about what had happened, she said “thats fine, you go and see if hes ok”.
I jumped into the car and called my mum on route, i told her he had been taken into hospital, she panicked. She kept calling his phone and eventually someone answer. It was his manager, he said my brother was fine and was just taken into the hospital for a persistent cough. She called me back to update me and asked me to call her when i was with him. Something wasn’t right..the 2 stories we were given were v different. I didnt know who to believe but prayed for the best and spent the rest of the journey thinking about how i was going to tell him off for not looking after his health more and how i was going to force him to start exercising.
Bobby got there first. I was a few mins away when he called me, he told me the news wasnt good and i needed to come quick. My heart sank because i knew there was only one thing which would warrant him to say that. When i got to the empty hospital reception bobby was with his wife. He looked shaken and told me the news; my brother had had a sudden heart attack whilst at work and died.
He took me up to see him.
Before I entered, the paramedic explained; one of his colleagues had called 999 and said he said collapsed and wasn’t breathing, the paramedics tried to revive him for 40mins at the museum and in the ambulance. Because he was so young (turned 34 a month before) they said they really tried and had taken him to the cath lab to try and unblock his artery but it was too late.
As I walked in and looked at him lying there, it was as if he was asleep. He looked exactly as he had always done at that point. I half expected him to get up because he looked so alive. They left me with him for a few mins. I stroked his face and couldn’t believe what was happening. We have both always been solution orientated but I couldn’t think of how to do undo this. At that point, nothing else mattered and I just wanted my brother back.
Soon after everyone else started coming into my head. How would I tell my mum her 34-year-old had died after she had seen him a few hours ago and he was fine. She had experienced this before because she had got a call out of the blue when my dad had died at 33 of stroke and I didn’t want her to go through it again. What’s worse was how would I tell my sister in law who selflessly loved him and was 7 months pregnant with their son. I didn’t want her to experience what my mum had.
The next few weeks were a traumatic whirlwind with the only consolation being how many people came together to support us. The mortuary commented that they had never seen how many people at a funeral before. It shows how much he and my mum are loved and respected.
During the grieving process, death became more of a reality for all of us and if it could happen to him it could happen to any of us. At that point, I was 2 stones/ 16 kg overweight and didn’t want to die. I started a drastic transformation.
I’ve made it my mission to get keep families together by getting people to sort out their health before something like this happens to them. If you want some help or know anyone who needs it, please leave a comment and I will be happy to help you or your loved one.