This blog is for you Mum. For anyone else reading this, it is about one woman’s recovery from one of the worst types of brain haemorrhage you can have – a brain stem haemorrhagic stroke; A bleed on the brain, in the brain stem. This is a very personal blog for me but hopefully it will help if you, or a loved one, are going through something similar. My Mum has always been a beacon of strength and her story will also give you strength I hope.
The Injustice Of It
One of the first things you have to do when someone you love is struck down with a brain haemorrhage is get your head round the reason why. Why has it happened? Specifically, why has it happened to them?
6 years on from the worst thing to ever happen to my Mum I realise that there is no satisfactory answer to that question. Injustice is a part of life, it happens every day to people all over the world in one degree or another. Take my Mum for example; She is the best Mum that I could ever have wished for. She brought me up in a wonderful home and I have wonderful memories from it. Some of the feelings and memories I have thanks to my Mum (and Dad) I will never be able to replicate. Christmases, holidays, general lessons and examples on what hard work is, you name it.
To think that through no fault of her own she was struck down with a brain haemorrhage that took away her ability to walk, see well, talk well, do ‘normal’ day to day jobs. It breaks my heart every single day. That is what this kind of thing does to you.
“My Mum – The strongest of us all”
Luckily, this is my Mum we’re talking about. As soon as my heart is broken it is stuck back together again because of something she does and says. Often something as simple as just getting herself to the loo and back without moaning about it. She just gets on with it, as hard as it is for her, and then back on with whatever she was doing. Most of us take walking to the loo and using it for granted. To see the pure effort that Mum puts in every day is nothing short of a miracle quite frankly. To be able to keep going for whatever the reason is a strength I have learnt to rely on. She also has the patience of a Saint.
These days my Mum is a Grandmother (Nanna), and she is loved by Fearne like only a child can. She knows that Nanna has a ‘poorly head’ and just accepts it for what it is, she has never known any different. But I have. I have seem Mum in her prime, doing anything for anyone just because. That is what I still see now though, she might be different physically these days but lovingly she is exactly the same.
My Mum is still the same small girl inside who grew up on farm with her own Mum guiding her and loving her. She is passing that on every day. The reason Mum is alive is because of her strength and the amount of love swishing around her system. This kind of strength is something that some don’t have, maybe Mum doesn’t think she has it, I can tell you she definitely does.
Nanna and Fearne.
To keep myself strong one thing I’m glad I did was keep a notes diary on my phone in the first few weeks after the brain haemorrhage. We were told that Mum might not remember a lot of what was happening. I wrote things down to be able to fill in the gaps for her later. Here is a few snippets from my diary:
” Tuesday 5th November. It happened, about 4pm, found by a guy called Darren who was passing by. I came home from work. I don’t know what happened to that day.
Wednesday 6th November. We’re all there all day, you look so poorly. I preyed you would be my mum again. You seemed to squeeze our hands. The day was a blur.
Thursday 7th November. 5pm Tracheotomy, replacing your mouth tube, you look better, house viewing at 3:30, went well.
Friday 8th November. Gave me a kiss for the first time, at about 14:30. You were your most responsive so far, you asked if you had mascara on.
Saturday 9th November. Nan, Nic and Ell came to see you. You spoke through the tube device and told me you were going to be alright. I cried. You asked about the wedding. Emma, Mand, Keiron, Uncle Mick and Angela visited in the evening, you asked Emma about work and we knew mentally you were ok.
Sunday 10th November. Moved to ward 228 overnight, neurological ward. Visiting hours are more restricted, not happy. You’re in room one, you’re opening your eyes better and now asking about the trust card bill and car tax using the iPad app. We played Lisa Stansfield on the iPod for you and I rubbed your legs and feet. You are in and out.
Monday 11th November. You had a scan today to see if you could have your head drain taken out, we didn’t know by end of first visiting. You were photosensitive so the lights were turned down. You’ve got good movement in your legs and arms, you can point to your nose with your right arm, not yet with your left. You’re covering your right and then left eye to test your vision, your right is better. I’m desperate to spend more time with you, I sit by your bed as much as I can. Uncle Roy and Aunty Ann visit in the day, Emma and Uncle A in the eve. You were tired at night, hopefully the drain will be out tomorrow. You smiled when we told you how nice your green stockings were.
Tuesday 12th November. A week has passed, I’m getting worse at leaving you, the hot air they’re giving you to break up what’s on your chest is making you uncomfortable. You’re slightly more awake and your movements are better. Nan comes to see you for the second time, her face lit up when you smiled and waved at her. The head drain is out, the compression stockings are off, Dr is going to assess you in the morning. I’ve realised I need you more than anything, Mum, please be ok.
Wednesday 13th November. I’m reading articles and advice on your condition on the internet, most fill me with hope, some make me sad. You are, and have been, the first thing I think of when I wake up, and all day, and at night. I hope to see you improve each day. When I see you in the afternoon you sleep, in the evening you’re more awake. You’re off the oxygen but are getting frustrated when you can’t do things, it worried me. I got a parking ticket.
Thursday 14th November. You’ve been out of bed today for the first time, in to a chair, not for long, but another sign you’re on the mend.
Friday 15th November. We speak to the Dr today who tells us he’s done a spinal fluid drain to check for pressure etc, he seemed pleased with your progress. Denise visits, we’re worried!
Tuesday 19th November. You have your stitches out of your head. You’re having a tough time with the tubes and they’ve had to put gloves on your hands to stop you pulling them out in your sleep. It was so hard leaving you, the first time I cried again in 4 days.
Wednesday 20th November. After what seems like an age, the Dr comes to see you in your bed and tests your gag reflex and decides that the tracheotomy tube can come out. It takes him 10 minutes and does it there in your bed. Dad calls me in, you tell me you’re ok with your own, slightly squeaky, voice. Not a dry eye.
Friday 22nd November. You’ve been moved rooms to a lesser dependency bed and you pull your feeding tube out when you go the loo. According to you it fell out when you were on the loo, I’m not convinced.
Saturday 23rd November. The first (and last) day we’re not going to see you since you were in. It’s Due’s day at the races, everyone comes back up except Dad.
Sunday 24th – A blur
Monday 25th – A blur
Wednesday 27th November. Your vision seems to be a little bit better and dad had sorted you out an eye patch. You’re drinking water with thickener in and you’ve had some cold lemon water with thickener, “gorgeous” in your own words. Mash for dinner, not so gorgeous. You tell me you’ve walked down the corridor with the physios. Dead proud.
Thursday 28th November. You’ve shit a miracle and they’re kicking you out. You’re on your way to the Haywood Hospital via ambulance. 23 days spent at North Staffs Royal Infirmary in Critical Care and High Dependency Wards. The catheter is out and the fresh air is great you say. I’ve done at 12 hour overtime shift for some extra pennies for Christmas. The new bed you’ve got is nice. TV, etc, much more homely than north staffs.
Friday 29th November. You’ve been moved to another ward for once again trying to get up on your own. They’ve told us they need to keep an eye on you and that you ended up like a fish on the floor trying to go the loo. You’ve got words to practice from the Speech Therapist like ‘hippopotamus’.
Saturday 30th November – A blur
Sunday 1st December – A blur
Monday 2nd December – Friday 6th December. Your first proper day with the physios on the Monday and you have a week of therapy. You’re walking, made your own brew, your words are better and your going to make your own breakfast!
Monday 9th December – Friday 13th December. You’re taken for a follow up MRI scan on Thursday so you’re up at 7am and at North Staffs for 9am. The Ward Crimbo doo is on from 2-5, I think it’s been a big day for you and you seem tired. You tell us it’s like living a nightmare being there, you cry and I have to hold back mine. Monday is our meeting with the Dr. Your words are becoming fluent and better spoken so we’ve moved on and we’re doing whole sentences now. Even those seem easy. Your speech gets lazy when you are tired, understandable.
Friday 20th December. You have your Ophthalmology exam today.
Christmas Day. Dad and Due pick you up in the morning. I’m at work until 5. You’re allowed home for Christmas Day and then have to go back in. I’m the happiest I have ever been but also sad that you’re not ready to come home full time just yet. “
“If you want to know yourself, know that there is no self”
Meant To Be
Mum has always been strong enough to do the tough jobs, make the tough decisions etc. Her new job now is to get better and to recover. But, actually it’s not. Her job now is to show everyone else in the world that no matter what happens or what struggles you have it will be ok. My Mum is still teaching us all what strength is, like she has always done.
People who have life changing injuries like this are given the biggest jobs of all – they become beacons of light and the teachers of struggles. Mum, you have been given the job of inspiring the whole world. You have been asked to guide those others who will have brain haemorrhages after you towards a path of recovery. It is you they can look towards, just like I do, to show them what is possible. For those people who think they have lost everything and who think they will never have anything they used to, rest assured, my Mum has. She has regained so much from the brink of death, and that which she will never get back she copes with.
I’m a bit believer that things are meant to be, that real choice is an illusion. In Mums case she was always meant to be the one to shows everyone the value of life. She was always going to be the one to shine bright. Without that light I wouldn’t have got this far.
Mum, you are loved more than you know, and have given more love than you know. I am the man I am today because of you. When the day comes that we snuff it and shuffle of the perch, I know I’ll see you again and I can rest easy knowing I had you as my Mum. I am one lucky bugger to have had you walk along with me. That’s the most important type of walking, the kind we do together.
As a general rule I believe that you are not your thoughts, and that you are beyond you culture. I believe that love is the biggest gift. I am unbelievably lucky to have received the amount of love that I have from you. As proud as I want you to be of me, I will always be prouder of you.
“Mum, I love you”
Realiser was born from a dream to be in a realised state, a state of awaken. To be able to see the most obvious things having missed them for so many years. Subsequently I wanted to create something to serve as an example of how it could be. If only we might spend the time loving that we spend hating. Above all spending the time to be kind to others for no reason. You get the idea. I will travel around doing what I can and would love for you to join me. Follow my path here…