A unexpected and dramatic end to Melvyn's Adventure

Melvyn Brown
Fri 15 Jul 2011 12:13

50:43 N 002:0 W


Melvyn arrived back at Poole Quay on Tuesday 28th June.  He stowed the sails, packed a few essentials and called our friend, Alice, to come and collect him from the quayside.  He said his intention was to have a cup of tea, shower, shave and then go to the pub for ham, egg and chips and a pint of beer (in that order).  She says she wouldn’t have recognised him but for his bright red fleece and having got him and his belongings in the car she drove straight to Poole General Hospital Accident & Emergency where he was later admitted with an as-yet unidentified chest infection.


Initially he had oxygen to assist his breathing but the following afternoon he was transferred to the High Dependency Unit where he could be continually monitored and later that night he was heavily sedated and put on a ventilator which did all his breathing for him.  At that stage he was deemed to be on the critical list but I’m pleased to say that each and every day since then he has made steady - but painfully slow - progress.  The hospital were keen to lessen the sedation but were wary because some patients are very distressed to find themselves on a ventilator but over the weekend of 2/3 July they dropped the level of sedation and his eyes were occasionally flickering and he responded to requests to “blink if you can hear us”.  A week ago on July 7th the doctors replaced the ventilator tubes in his mouth with a temporary tracheotomy which enabled them to withdraw the sedation entirely and he regained consciousness.  He claims to remember nothing prior to that – blinking and squeezing of hands notwithstanding!


The doctors have not discovered what the infection is, although their suspicions are that it is something “exotic” he picked up in The Caribbean as he started to feel ill in The Turks & Caicos Islands.  Initially they treated him for TB – based in part because of the tremendous weight loss (he probably weighs 7st now) and although the first of a series of test results came back negative they continued, seemingly on the basis it couldn’t do any harm.   At the beginning he was being given a cocktail of five or six antibiotics in the hope that at least one might help.   They have considered – and recently dismissed – the possibility of a fungal infection.  It remains a mystery but the doctors have expressed their determination to continue to seek an answer.


It wasn’t the finale to his voyage we expected, but thankfully it looks very much as if he will live to tell the tale and dine out on the stories for some time to come.  It would appear he is applying some of that same determination which gave him the strength to sail The Atlantic and reach his home port whilst so very ill.  And when he is well enough to fill in the gaps I will post the final chapter on this blog.


The Scribe