2004 was a very sad year for me. My mum passed away on the 16th October and I still miss her very much. I was working full-time as a Deputy Manager in the Viyella shop in Chester. I enjoyed my job and worked with some nice ladies. (Some came to see me in hospital and still see me now).
I started to suffer head pain and was sick on the 16th November. I had 3 days off work and I went to see my Doctor as I still had headaches. A few days later I felt fine and went back to work. On the 3rd December I went to work as normal; switched the alarm off, locked the door and then felt dizzy. I knew I was in trouble so I unlocked the door again. I was hanging onto the brass railing just inside then fell onto the floor. A person passing by saw me and called an Ambulance. I remember the ambulance coming then nothing. I can only relate the beginning of this story through my Dad who has helped me. (He has been a tremendous help to me all my life — even more now).
I was taken to our local hospital, the Countess of Chester at 8pm and then transferred by ambulance to the Walton Centre. I was seen by Mr Javadpour a Consultant Neurosurgeon (who I thank so much for saving my life). They operated and my Dad was told to go home and come back in the morning. I was put in a ward with a drain on one side of my head but due to MRSA it stopped draining. I was moved to another ward, had more drains put it and was then transferred to Intensive Care. I then had some more drains put into my stomach. I made slow progress and my Dad visited me every afternoon but I didn't recognise him. He used to take me in a wheelchair to the cafe. Towards the end of a 6 month stay, Dr Pinder from Clatterbridge Hospital came to see me. I was then moved to the Countess of Chester Hospital (which I don't remember) for 4 weeks and then taken to Clatterbridge Neurorehabilitation Unit and looked after by Dr Pinder and his team.
After being in Clatterbridge for 3 weeks, Dr Pinder changed my medication. I started to recognise Dad and other people. Dad took me for walks around the hospital grounds and I was able to go home for an afternoon. I had toileting problems but with help, was soon able to go home for weekends. I will never forget one particular nurse called Joy. She used to make me laugh and we still send Christmas cards to each other. At Clatterbridge, the nurses recommended writing a diary to help with my memory — which is not as good now.
I had to visit the Walton Centre for some more scans and to see Mr Javadpour. I have been left with many scars on my head — the worst is a burr hole which will never heal properly. I have to us special shampoo recommended by the Tissue Viability Nurses who treat it when it breaks down and leaks. I will have this problem for the rest of my life but at least I have some hair now to cover all the scars. I finally went home from Clatterbridge on the 4th November 2005. I was upset and cried because it had become my life and I had grown very fond of the nurses and staff.
The Acquired Brain Injury Service at the Acorn Suite started to look after me. Beth Fisher(Service Manager) had seen me when I was in Clatterbridge and then I met Bernie (Specialist Occupational Therapist) and Dr Gavin Newby (Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist).
Earlier eye tests suggested that I would not be able to drive again but on the 1st December 2006, Bernie came with me for an eye test and, miraculously, all was clear. Dr Newby then did some tests with me to make sure I could return to driving and Bernie arranged for me to have some driving refreshers. I then had to go for a driving assessment.
My periods had stopped so the team at the Walton Centre arranged for me to see Dr McFarlane who then arranged for me to see Sister Jill at Fazakerley Hospital. They gave me an infusion which got them going again. I also have a bladder control regime as I go to the toilet more often.
I started doing some voluntary work because even although Viyella kept my job for me, I was unable to go back as Deputy Manager on a busy shop floor environment. Dr Newby has explained to me I have difficulties in my speed of thinking, memory and my ability to learn new information. I also get very tired.
I think I am very lucky to have survived and I have met some very nice people that inspire me — especially the people I have met at HIP — which is why I have volunteered to help Beth Fisher and Claire Emerton who run it. We meet every month and I have made some lovely friends. We all look normal , but every one of us has some difficulty or another. We all understand the changes in our lives and what we have lost.