It’s been a long time now. If someone had told me how long it would be at the beginning I don’t think I would have believed them and I wouldn’t have wanted it to be true. But in some ways it also feels as if it’s been no time at all. If someone walked into my house right now and told me we were collecting Nico from school today and going off on holiday I’d probably cry with relief that this has all just been a bad dream that is now over, but strange to say, I wouldn’t be amazed. Because I still feel so close to when we were just a normal, happy family with Nico at the centre. This still feels so real I could almost touch it. It’s almost as if all the terrible experiences we’ve been through in the last two years run parallel to the real world and for some reason I’ve been forced to live in this parallel world. I know that makes no sense and I dread the day I accept that this is not a parallel world – this is going to be our now and forever new normal world.
But yesterday I changed trains. Today I realised that there’s a real possibility that in changing trains I may in time go forward to finding a place of peace and acceptance – a place where I can exist in this new world, this new normal. A place where I can love Nico and think of him with love, but there won’t be pain, bitterness and anger. Getting ready for the inquest and fighting through the inquest was drawn out over a period of almost 18 months from the first date we were given in June 2013 to the final day of the inquest in December 2014 and that has most definitely taken its toll. I only realised yesterday just what a toll it has been. Anyone who says that an inquest of our type is not combative, is not confrontational, has clearly never experienced it. It is awful and draining and all consuming. You are riding on a run-away train and where it takes you to is quite terrifying, but you are equally terrified by the thought of getting off.
We were told at an early stage that the inquest was no more than a side-show, no matter now intense it would feel, and that the real work would only begin after the inquest was finished. A few weeks after the inquest ended we applied to NHS England for an investigation. Then we waited. It was rather like when your train stops and someone announces that you’ll be delayed but they don’t know how long it will be for? That was us. Sitting and waiting and waiting some more. Waiting for someone to tell us that the train would start again and where it would take us.
Then, a couple of weeks ago we heard. We were not to have a Serious Case Review but we were instead to have a full Independent Investigation. Partly because of the huge scope and complexity of Nico’s case a Serious Case Review would not have been able to look into everything we raised, it wouldn’t have had a sufficiently wide remit. But an Independent Investigation would cover a lot more and that is what we wanted and asked for.
I dreaded the first meeting with NHS England and the Clinical Commissioning Group. Yesterday I entered the room to meet with them with the same cold and horrid panic the inquest process had created in me. But when I left that room and those people I knew without doubt that I had changed trains. For someone like me, with what we have endured at the hands of Southern Health, their legal team and the coroner’s court, just simply to be met by people who plainly care. People who are as outraged as we are and just as determined to bring these people to book, was an epiphany. To be treated kindly, courteously, to be listened to and believed meant more to me than I can easily put here into words.
Within the next three weeks we will receive our first document which will detail the scope of the investigation. Within a few weeks after that we will be going through the candidates who wish to be considered as investigator on this investigation. We will choose who we prefer, we will choose together and we will choose who we all think will do the best possible job. Then we press go. Then the investigation begins and we have been told to expect it to last at least 6 months and possibly as long as a year. That doesn’t matter to me right now. What matters is that it’s a far reaching, thorough investigation.
I already think about the faces of those people who are going to receive letters letting them know that the investigator wants to interview them. I am already thinking about the papers that will be demanded and the explanations sought out with a certain degree of tough mindedness. Did they really think they had just got away with it all?
Yes, I have changed trains and the new train that I ride on is a different train. It is taking a different route and I feel very different to be riding on it.
This train only has one destination. It is bound for justice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTDNW9BfzfY