Hywel's Final Week

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


On June 28th Hywel had a very difficult night and woke with a very sore throat. He wanted me to have a chat with the Doctor as he was afraid to ask when he might be able to go home. The Doctor told me Hywel had a chest and throat infection. He said that he was not well enough to go home at the moment and that because of how weak he was it might be an idea to get my son Adam back from university quickly and that we should prepare ourselves for the worst. They were going to start giving Hywel antibiotics which might help him to feel a bit better. I phoned my Mum who lives about forty five minutes from Adam’s university and asked her to collect him and bring him home. Adam packed up his stuff and they were home by 3.30pm that day. Adam came in to see Hywel and then stayed at home with Elliott that night and I slept at the hospice on a reclining chair that was close enough to Hywel’s bed for me to hold his hand all night.

I told Carly and Luke the Doctor had said they should take some time off work so they came to Y Bwthyn on June 29th. This meant Hywel would not be on his own whilst I popped home to take delivery of a hospital bed, so that if the antibiotics worked well he might still be able to come home. 

I was away for about two hours. I got back to Y Bwthyn and when I gave Hywel a kiss and said hello he looked straight through me and didn’t say anything. I was a bit surprised and asked how he’d been. The kids said he’d been fine and had just been having a joke with Carly’s boyfriend Jon. I went really close to Hywel then and tried to talk to him again, he didn’t move and I could feel a searing heat emanating from him. He was looking straight at me now but was unable to speak - the heat coming from him was so intense it seemed to transfer to me and made me feel quite odd so I called the Doctor. She came in and started talking to Hywel and asked if he could see her, he then started to talk a little and said that everything was blurry but he could see her lips moving. The nurses and Doctors said they were going to leave us alone now and we all thought this was it, that Hywel was slipping away. He closed his eyes and slept, and Luke, Carly and I just held his hands and chatted quietly to him. The heat died down and he slept a while then woke up a bit later and was a little bit more with it. The Doctor told me that he may have had a slight stroke. His temperature was very high so he was given some paracetemol and that seemed to help. Hywel kept asking what had happened to him and I tried my best to explain. He kept saying how strange it had all felt and asked me what had happened to him several times. Luke and Carly didn’t want to leave after that, and Adam and Elliott also said they wanted to stay.

We made the hospice our home from Friday June 29th until Wednesday July 4th when, sadly, Hywel peacefully slipped away with myself and all the children with him.

The staff at Y Bwthyn, without exception, were the most caring compassionate people you could ever meet. They gave Hywel such tender loving care and helped him achieve a pain-free, calm, peaceful and dignified death.

Donna Lewis and her husband Martin along with Tim, who had been the guitarist in the band when Hywel played drums for Donna, came to see Hywel on Saturday 30th June and the staff helped him to be awake and well groomed for their meeting. He had been determined to meet Donna and they spent twenty minutes chatting. Donna then spent time with the children and promised Hywel that she would keep in touch with me in the future.

On Sunday July 1st Hywel woke up in the evening to watch most of the European cup final with me, Adam, Luke, Carly, and her boyfriend Jon. He was making us all laugh with his dry remarks about the behaviour of some of the footballers.

On Monday July 2nd, Hywel’s strength seemed to ebb away when he woke. We again thought he was slipping away and he told us he thought he’d be going soon but would watch a film with us all later.

Hywel didn’t wake all day on Tuesday 3rd and the nurses again withdrew and left us, but Hywel seemed to be restless as if there was unfinished business. I read the last chapter of Wind in the Willows to him, as I had been reading him a chapter a day for some time which he had told me he found soothing. He went through another night with a fair few agitated moments.

On Wednesday morning when Hywel still seemed to be restless, I decided I would ask his Minister Owain if he could somehow bring his Mum to the hospice to see him. He told myself and Owain a week earlier that he didn’t want his Mum to come to the hospice, but that was when he thought he might go home.

Owain must have dropped everything he was doing as ten minutes after I’d texted him to see if he could get Nansi to us I had a message to say he was on his way.

So Nansi got to see Hywel and say her goodbyes. She left and it was just me, Carly and Luke in the room. Another hour passed and we didn’t know what it was that was stopping Hywel from letting go.

Carly thought we should play her Dad his songs. So we played some of the songs he had written with Rod and then we played him Always it’s You.  As soon as the first bar of the song played, Hywel’s breathing slowed down and became much quieter and gentler and as Adam and Elliott joined us in the room, he stopped breathing and was gone.

We were all incredibly sad, relieved that the pain and suffering was at an end and at the same time deeply moved by the way Hywel had chosen to leave us.

We’ve had so many wonderful tributes about Hywel given to us since he died as Hywel touched and inspired so many people. It was a difficult decision to write down and share the experience of Hywel’s passing with you, but he has been so candid and honest about how he lived with his cancer that I thought I owed it to him to share with you his dignified and gentle death.

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