I remember waking up at Norwich airport. It was around 8pm and I was lying on a stretcher being transferred to an ambulance it was cold, dark and drizzly.
The next six days was spent in ICU; as I had flown in from a foreign country
I was placed in isolation. My first memory was seeing my daughter and nephew David who is a Roman Catholic Priest he assured me that he was not there in an official capacity he is well known for his sense of humour I do love him, both had tears in their eyes
what I didn’t know till later was Lila fainted on seeing me, bless her.
On another day I opened my eyes to see my sisters Susan and Margret standing at the foot of the bed I tried ever so hard to tell them that I was OK but only my eye lids would
move; at that time I firmly believed that people could understand what I was saying through my eyes, I would point with them not realizing they were not moving I was very frustrated at people not being able to understand me I now wonder what they must have
I was still critical so I was kept sedated and had 24x7 one to one care for a few days, it was here that I was introduced to ice lollies, basically it was one of those sponge mouth wipes with an ice cube rammed on the end I had two main nurses
Steve and Margret caring for me they were very good very gentle and looked after my every need including a regular bathe of ice around my lips it was heaven the strange thing about my condition was that I didn’t feel ill it must have been the drugs that
I was on.
Once stabilized I was transferred to the Acute Stroke Ward ‘Gunthorpe’ where I spent a further five months recovering in a side room on my own, this was good as I began to realize that to be placed in the main ward there would
be little rest.
As I was recovering medically I had to endure further setbacks such as the Noro virus and pneumonia at the same time, again it was touch and go whether I would make it I was totally unaware how serious it was. What I do remember
was that poor young Steve an HCA had to clean me quite regular and made no complaint when I was recovering from the virus we did have a laugh about it especially about the time I pooed on his hands as he cleaned me not nice I know but his attitude got me through
some very embarrassing moments.
I had to cope with the many indignities like bed baths, having my bum cleaned, wetting or pooing in bed , been hoisted in and out of bed where your nether ends are exposed gladly not to the world you
name it I had to deal with it and the pain Oh the pain because of my paralysis I couldn’t keep my head and body from rolling to one side so if the pillows were not supporting me my head would drop to one side; the neck pain was horrendous at
first I was unable to communicate this I couldn’t even press the bed alarm so I had to wait until a nurse to came in to check me. My family would straighten me up each evening ready to settle me down for the night but as I was not allowed to lie flat
because of been fed via a tube up my nose I would wake up with my head or body to one side and in pain. My ankles and knee joint caused great pain as well at one point my right knee was aspirated plus my body from head to toe was swollen.
of the most distressing moments was the day when Sarah and her children left for Australia, Sarah lay her head on the bed took my hand and placed it on her head it was such an intimate moment a moment that I will never forget then to see my grandchildren looking
in from outside and waving goodbye because of the Noro virus they were not allowed in I was heartbroken.
My faith played a vital part too, I spent many days, hours, minutes just lying there looking at the ceiling but I felt at peace most of the time
as I could feel the presence of God beside me there were times that I felt so close I could feel his robes around me I then became aware that a miracle had happened when I had first had my stroke I always say that I beat the devil, the miracles didn’t
stop there; when I was told that I had a swelling in my throat (A camera was stuck up my nose and into my throat I can still hear the crackling sound as it went passed the base of my brain) which is a common feature with a stroke and that I need
to be prepared mentally to having the tracky in for the rest of my life meaning I won’t be able to swallow again and be fed by the tube that was put directly in my stomach (PEG) I thought “NO THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN” for the next eight weeks
I prayed every waking minute along with my family and friends and the rest of the world that God would take the swelling away God showed us again the might of his power. The next time the medical staff stuck that camera up my nose they were astonished
that the swelling had gone I wasn’t as I knew that God would sort it and he did. I was then weaned off my tracky which took 8 weeks of letting the tracky cuff down and fitting a Passy-Muir speaking valve for a period of time each day starting with
5 minutes then onto 24 hrs this was very difficult at first as when the cuff was let down I would cough and splutter with the gunge going down my wind pipe but I soon learned how to control it and not panic. Finally after almost 5 months I could talk at first
it was one word one breath but as I grew stronger my sentences became longer, however, I still have moments when I struggle talking especially when tired my voice becomes slurred.
There were times though when I felt l low, for instance,
I would have dreams of me walking the hills or fishing or just carrying out normal daily activities then I would wake up I have to admit I did have fleeting moments where I wanted to give up and hoped that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning, but I did.
I had several mood tests during my stay and I am thankful that all I was suffering with was low moods not depression so I was given happy pills which I am still on.
There were many more setbacks that slowed up my recovery where God made his presence
known in a very intimate way.
Physio was an important part of my recovery the physio terrorists I nicknamed them, they would come and bend my arms and legs which hurt to but I kept thinking ‘no
pain no gain, however everything was not rosy the physio sessions seemed to get less frequent I would observe the physio team walking other patients around the ward and I started to feel neglected especially when Dr Mclashing (Rehab consultant) observed
my foot drop due to the shortening of my calf muscles, Jeannie my wife made a complaint about the lack of physio, this for me was a very uncomfortable time as I thought the staff would take it out of me for complaining. A couple of days later I was fitted
with some sort of splint, it looked like a ski boot without the boot part just a frame, my feet were forced into them to try and stretch the muscles. It didn’t work they just caused sores across the top of both feet so they encased both legs in
plaster casts and for weeks I would lie in bed with these ruddy great casts which didn’t work either apart from making me sore. One day I was taken to the gym sat on the side of the bed where I had to be supported as I couldn’t sit on my own and
told that they were going to try and stand me up. The only experience I had of standing up was on the tilt table, a stand aid machine was placed it front of me and a belt was placed around my bum, after been instructed to pull on the handles when I could
feel the belt pulling me up the machine was turned on I felt excruciating pain in the shoulders so they lowered me back onto the bed, I couldn’t stop crying as I thought that I would never walk again the staff didn’t help either I manage to ask
the with the aid of my communication board “will I walk again” they didn’t answer.
Then there was the hiccups this too is often a result of a stroke and again I was warned that I may always suffer with them and given more medication,
sometimes the hiccups would last all day and night when that happened my mood would hit rock bottom, one day Angie and Theo were visiting me when the hiccup’s started my mood went downhill fast. Angie asked if they could pray for me I was feeling quite
depressed and remember thinking “Pray won’t work it’s a load of rubbish” but I said yes and they did; nothing happened the hiccups carried on all night in the morning I was feeling right pissed off I even refused to be hoisted into
my chair all I wanted was sleep, then the PEG (This was a feeding tube directly into my stomach ) alarm went off warning me that the bag of food had run out so I pressed my specially adapted alarm and informed the nurses. There was a bit of confusion then
as my normal food stock had run out (I used to call it my banana milk shake) so they tried something else; guess what, the hiccups stopped and it never came back once again God showed me he was in charge and stepped in to prove that pray is not a “load
of rubbish” from then on I stayed on the new food. PRAISE GOD.
Controlling ones emotions was very difficult in the early days and still is, a stroke plays havoc with the emotional sensors of the brain one minute everything is OK
and then for no reason at all one would be in floods of tears. There were times when Jeannie would visit me after having a bad day emotionally herself she would break down in front of me, pre stroke I would hug and comfort her, because of my spasticity I couldn’t
what made it worse I also would break down too and become a quivering wreck unable to pull myself together; it was quite pathetic knowing I should be there for Jeannie but couldn’t she would be the one apologising for upsetting me this happened
several times. I used to get weekly visits from the rehab team, they were assessing me for transfer to rehab but because of my tracky they couldn’t offer me a bed until it was removed, this went on for months all I wanted to do was go home but I knew
deep down that would be impossible as I still couldn’t move or talk Lois the stroke nurse from rehab was very good and honest about rehab and that it could last for months and it could be after Christmas before I could get home; my heart sank at this
news. It all depended on how I recovered personally, again each week I would become an emotional wreck unable to control what was happening to me.
After five months of enduring some of the most humiliating and painful procedures I was deemed ready to
be transferred to Caroline House at the Colman Rehab Centre this was a very emotional occasion having to say cheerio to staff that I had become very fond of but it was the start of a new and very important part of my recovery.