Goodpastures Syndrome

Too close for comfort - a near-fatal encounter, told by the patient

10. Tommy Hilder of East London

(This is a true account of my experience with Goodpastures Syndrome, but a few people‚Äôs names have been changed, indicated by *.  My aim in writing this is threefold; first, that victims and families of people suffering from Goodpastures Syndrome can have some knowledge of what to expect in a serious event but also to show that Goodpastures is survivable, even in a case like mine; second, it would do no harm for physicians treating Goodpastures Syndrome or other devastating diseases, not to mention GP’s prescribing medication to patients, to read this as there are lessons here for some of them; lastly I am trying to exorcise the psychological after-effects of my experience with Goodpastures Syndrome).

Early on in my stay in M1 one of the cardiac patients in the other wards, hearing about my situation, came and introduced himself. He was Tommy Hilder, came from East London and was in the hospital for a heart by-pass operation.

Tommy was either divorced or a widower with a young son of whom he was extremely proud; he practically glowed when speaking of him or showing me a photo of the two of them out fishing.

He quickly realised that talking provoked a bout of coughing that weakened me terribly, so he would rather talk at me, guiding the conversation in such a way that all I needed to do was nod or shake my head. Overall, he spent hours with me, encouraging me and trying to cheer me up.

I was at this time nil per mouth, suffering agonies of hunger and constantly fantasising about food.  Tommy, discovering this, spoke a great deal about food and, contrary to what one might expect, this actually helped both to cope with the hunger as well as cheering me up by looking forward to all the feasting I was planning to do if I ever got out.

As a matter of fact, for many weeks after being released from hospital I could not pass any shop at all selling food without stopping and debating whether to buy something, so fixated was I on food.

Having ascertained that I was fond of curry he mentioned that he had a curry tree at home and could make authentic Indian curries. He wrote down his address and phone number on a piece of paper and insisted that I come and visit him when I got out of hospital, something that by this time did not seem realistically possible.

Shortly before my biopsy, he popped in to say good-bye, having had his operation and being on his way home. He also said to me at that time that he did not think the operation had worked. To my surprise, on returning to my room after my short sojourn in I.C.U. I found Tommy back in M1. He told me that he had got as far as the bus station when he was taken ill and had to be brought back. After my transfer out of M1 I did not see him again.

Months after getting out of hospital I decided to phone him to thank him for all the kindness he had shown. Someone else answered the phone and I asked to speak to Tommy Hilder. In a rather odd way the man asked why. I then explained how I had come to know him and why I was calling and then the man told me that Tommy had had a second by-pass operation but that, shortly after returning to East London, he had died.

It upsets me to this day that someone with so much to live for should have been struck down.



Tommy Hilder of East London             copyright 2011 Richard Binstead Goodpasture's Syndrome

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