I noted with some sadness that the former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy died following what his family described as an "alcohol related hemorrhage." I hope that his cause of death wasn't a ruptured oesophageal varice, but unfortunately I suspect that it was.
This depresses me greatly as Charles Kennedy always struck me as a sweet natured and principled politician.
I have only seen one death from a ruptured oesophageal varice and I never want the experience again. It was a 45 year old woman who had been brought into hospital with acute liver failure, and unbeknownst to me as a junior student nurse, her cirrhotic liver had caused a back up of blood to the blood vessels feeding from the junction of her stomach and windpipe
As I helped the charge nurse slide the woman from trolley to bed, she gave a little cough. She then said something like " oh no" very quietly and suddenly the entire bed was filled with blood. She coughed again and what I can only describe as a tidal wave of blood erupted from her mouth and I just stood there opened mouthed as the woman literally bled to death in front of me.
It all happened within, what seemed like ,a couple of seconds.
Another experienced nurse raced over with a morphine syringe as the alarm bells went off and the arrest team was called and she dragged some spare sheets and blankets from a nearby bed and threw them at me
" put them on the floor around the bed" she hissed quickly and then I understood.
The bedclothes were to dam the blood from spreading across the ward floor.
There was nothing we could do.
I was soaked in blood by the time the charge nurse told me to clean up and get a cup of tea and
I remember stripping into pair of borrowed theatre scrubs in the staff toilets, sobbing in shock.
The poor, poor woman and poor Charles Kennedy, they both deserved better than that