Posted on February 4th, 2012
There are odd moments that allow you to get an entirely new perspective on life and the world. One of those moments, I’ve found out these past few days, is seeing someone you love in the Intensive Care Unit – sedated and hooked up to a ventilator – fighting for their life.
All this happened with no notice. I don’t think anything could have prepared me for it.
The emotional journey involved is quite unlike anything else I’ve experienced before. A friend of mine, who has been through something similar, likened it to a ride that you’d really rather get off now.
I was under the impression that it was a stroke but I honestly don’t know if the reality is better or worse.
I will never forget the train journey down from Cambridge to Redhill. At that point I was under the impression that it was a stroke but I honestly don’t know if the reality is better or worse. It turns out that mum has a combination of a brain injury (bruising in the left hemisphere), bacterial meningitis (the most immediately life threatening) and pneumonia.
Being presented with mortality statistics by one of the anaesthetic consultants on Saturday was tough. We knew that odds were on mum’s side but that was the first time where it sank in that we could lose her.
The staff are lovely but for all their care they still can’t successfully bring mum round. Every time they lower the sedation she gets much worse again. Yesterday I thought we were making progress – today I’m not so sure.
Update: Wednesday 25th Jan
It is now, more than ever, the little signs that we cling onto. Today, for the first time, mum opened her eyes in response to noise. There was no sign of recognition &ndash I don’t think she recognised either our voices or our faces &ndash and neither was she able to obey any other verbal commands. However, it’s the best she’s been and it does signify an increase in GCS. By this scale, she was 12/15 on admission, down to 8/15 when she was sedated — this brings her up to 9/15.
Update: Sunday 29th Jan
My mum is, thankfully, firmly on the road to recovery. The past eight days have been a test of strength, stability and willpower. I don’t think mum realises yet quite how long she’s been in hospital. She’s still in intensive care but her sedation was successfully switched off yesterday for the first time since she was admitted.
Only time will tell whether she’ll be able to recover to normal. There was a point when we were being prepared for there being some (?permanent) brain damage. Thankfully that’s looking less and less likely to be the case.
Throughout all this, I’ve been overwhelmed by the texts, emails, facebook messages and phone calls that I’ve received…
Throughout all this, I’ve been overwhelmed by the texts, emails, facebook messages and phone calls that I’ve received – both from mum’s friends but also my own. It’s times like this when you realise just how strong a group of friends you have and how much you truly are able to depend on them when things go wrong.
Update: Tuesday 31st Jan
The rate of improvement now is incredible. I’ve just seen mum walk to the end of the corridor to say goodbye to us. She requires a lot of assistance (currently from a zimmer frame).
The timing of recovery does seem to fit with the meningitis diagnosis. Once the antibiotics took hold of the infection, everything else slotted back into place.
Final update: Saturday 4th Feb
I’ve decided that things are now good enough that I can publish this post. Mum is now at home, continuing her recovery. I’m deeply grateful to the dedicated staff in the Intensive Care Unit at East Surrey Hospital. Their support of us, and of mum, was faultless throughout.∗