I am that girl ….

I thought I would introduce myself, I’ve never had a blog before, though I am a dab hand at Facebook and I’ve usually used that as a vessel. I’ve always threatened to start a blog and post my many calamities, triumphs, traumas and years of heartache and wonderment. I’ve also threatened to write a book! What has spurred me on is that I have recently become unwell, my life dramatically changed over night. On the 14th of December 2016 my life took a turn for the worse, for the worse or for the better? Now that’s a pondery and still to be decided! I have faced some incredible difficulties and adversity over the years, heartbreak and utter devastation, I’ve also been incredibly blessed to have met some wonderful people along the way, I’ve enjoyed life and given back as much as I was gratefully given, I believe that all that love, struggle and strife and heartache, all the ugliness in the world and overcoming incredible hardship has prepared me for this journey that I’ve found myself on. Not only how far I’ve come but what is still lying in wait for me. So back to December 2016, I sustained a head injury that ruptured my left ventricle artery in my brain, this caused a haemorrhage and a rare type of stroke, that day I should have died instantly upon it rupturing, the damage to the artery is 3-4cms, now that’s some injury! For whatever reason I survived but over the next four weeks I suffered TIAs which are commonly known as mini strokes, where the artery was trying to heal itself and tiny clogs were breaking away and being washed along with the blood flow. I was having a mini stroke every 1 to 2 days so I’d feel champion one day and barely able to move the next. Three GPs misdiagnosed me on three separate occasions, I was given various diagnoses, including suspected meningitis (ruled out quickly) labyrinthitis, a virus and even flu, I was living in a fog and holding onto walls and furniture and I experienced weakness in my limbs, it’s a good job there’s photographs of Christmas and New Year because I barely remember them, a part from a fleeting thought of, Mmmmm, I love parsnips!

In early January I had the most horrific experience that I find extremely difficult to put into words, I lost consciousness and when I came round I was paralysed down my whole right side and unable to talk. I was at hospital on the stroke dependency unit, a consultant had the difficult task of trying to explain to me what was wrong and forming a timeline to determine what had happened. I had had another Haemorrhage and a second much bigger rare type of stroke and if that wasn’t enough, 5 days later I was to suffer a third haemorrhage and a third rare stroke after being told that these types of strokes and injuries are so extremely rare. They’re only seen once every 18 months and often by people fatally injured in a car accident or a motorcycle accident. How I am here, I truly do not know and neither do my team of Doctors and Consultants. If that wasn’t enough in early March, a clot from the original injury was migrating and heading for my lungs and my heart, I was blue lighted to the hospital where they saved my life again by giving me a drug called Alteplase and I was thrombolysed. That in turn was a very difficult call for the Consultant that day. I had a 50-50 chance of survival having the drug, the reason being because of the haemorrhages and the type of rare strokes, plus I had a clotted injury that needed to be there to heal! There was no decision in my eyes, I chose life, like I say, to me there was no decision to make, I wanted to live! I had already defeated the odds more than once since December so I was going for broke! Six hours later the drugs that had just saved my life, then decided to try and take my life and I went into shock. I had a weak but rapid pulse and laboured breathing, I lost consciousness and I had to be resuscitated. In the middle of all of this and unbeknownst to me there was a BBC camera crew there filming every step, so even in the grips of death there I was on the BBC1 documentary, Inside Out. It’s official, this girl doesn’t do things by halves!

Over the last 7 months I’ve been retraining my brain/body, from little things like trying to get fingers to bend to relearning to read and trying my very hardest to walk again. I do a fabulous crawl on furniture and can manage one or two wobbly Bambi steps but often I need my zimmer frame and I definitely need my wheelchair to get out and about, though I’ve only been out of the house 7 times and counting since mid-December, not including blue flashing lights and high speed ambulance rides. I have short-term memory loss due to damage to my left temporal lobe, so I might repeat myself quite often so bear with me! I don’t have much mental capacity at times, some days I’m trapped inside my own head and unable to explain what’s happening, other days all the switches are turned on and it’s green for go, it’s the same physically, one day I can wobble and drag myself across the sitting room on the furniture, the next the switch has flicked and I can barely hold my phone in my hand. In the beginning no one knew what was wrong with me not even the GPs who misdiagnosed me. Unfortunately some people in my life decided to call me a liar and even when a more informative diagnosis was given, they still continued their quest to discredit me and deem me to be an awful person. It wasn’t me who showed their true colours! Thankfully, they are very much in the minority and the support, love and care that I have been given over these months is phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal! I have a whole wall covered in get well cards, I’ve had fresh flowers every day for the last 7 months, apart from one single day just recently, there’s not a day goes by that I don’t get a message, a phone call or a request to visit to see how i am or ask if there’s anything they can do for me, though the visits are few and far between because they all have such busy lives and there has been times I’ve been too poorly, but they’re still there and it will get easier to interact and socialise as I continue to recover. I’m sat at the sidelines of life right now but I am so incredibly thankful and blown away by everyone’s support, even in my darkest days my heart swells! On that morning in mid December I lost a great deal of things that right now, I can’t possibly begin to explain but I somehow have become richer. I’ve had people step up to the mark without even being asked and support from people who I didn’t even think I mattered to. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an incredibly lonely time, in fact, I’ve never felt so alone in all my life but I don’t feel sorry for myself, I never have but if there is one person on this planet strong enough to overcome this then bah, Christ, it’s me! So I say, bring it on!

My saviour and constant companion is my one-year-old black Labrador, Dylan or also known as Dylan the Villain and most recently, Devil Dick! It was saving him from a rapid river that had burst it’s banks that may have caused my injury. Having a head injury with all the complications etc the Doctors were concerned about the loss of Serotonin which they described as the happy chemical in your brain, obviously I’ve lost a lot of the Serotonin with the three big Chrysanthemum type firework bleeds in my brain, they also spoke to me about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and promptly put me on the “watch” list. Even though I’m so incredibly, incredibly thankful that I am alive, they worry that sometimes people can feel differently and feel so overwhelmed and lost that they want to take their own life. I truly believe that Dylan has prevented me feeling any of those things so far, most days he is my only company a part from the fantastic carers who help out twice a day, he is my constant companion and gives me unconditional love, it doesn’t matter that I’ve got tatty hair and I’m still in my Harry Potter pyjamas, he doesn’t care he just wants to snuggle and have the crust off my morning toast. So you’ll hear a lot about him!

This might sound a bit crackers but being poorly is a luxury, we live in a world today that runs on money, as much as that pains me to say, it’s a cold hard fact! I haven’t just been sitting at home convalescing, eating grapes and holding audience, far far from it, the sad truth is I literally don’t have two pennies to rub together as my dear Nanna would have said. I’ve been kept from focusing on my recovery and achieving my goals because of constant phone calls from the likes of GMAC about car payments and repossession, even though I’ll never be able to drive that car again. I don’t get sickness money from work, I get Statutory Sick Pay and I’m sure a lot of you know that’s nothing to live on never mind paying for cars etc These companies don’t care what you’ve been through, they don’t care that you should have died 5 times in 7 months, there’s no empathy, there’s no sympathy and I have to admit that there has been days, despite my little Dylan the Villain, where they have pushed me over the edge and it chokes me to say, I’ve exclaimed those horrific words, I should have just died! I know, horrendous! Along with the head injury I’ve been having seizures and the constant phone calls have stressed me to the point of bringing on multiple seizures but that again counts for nothing, they want their pound of flesh and anyway that they can get it! I’m 38 and I’ve never ever been in this position before, I was made redundant in my early 20s through no fault of my own and I signed on at the dole office and three days later I signed off because I can turn my hand to anything when needs be, I went from Veterinary Nurse to jewellery girl because needs must. I have succumbed to trying to claim benefits and let me tell you, the information doesn’t come freely and you have to ask about and rely on people who have been through a similar situation to give you a guiding hand. I’m living back home with my Mam and we are surviving solely on her wage.

Anyhoo, who am I? Well, I am that girl! I am a big animal lover, I love the outdoors, I’m an artist, published twice I’ll have you know, I have been a part of amnesty international since I was 15 years old, campaigning for human rights, I love music and the arts, I’m very much a giver if I do say so myself and recently have discovered that I am actually extremely hard on myself and should maybe care for myself the way that I care for others. What else can I tell you, my favourite colour is blue, I was quite partial to a soupçon of Prosecco before I became ill, I love people, I love life when it’s not dealing me a shitty hand, I’m an ordinary type of being, not that special, often overlooked but if this can happen to me, it can happen to anybody. I’m hoping this is going to be quite cathartic for me but I’m also hoping that anyone reading this can relate and seek comfort that they’re not alone. Maybe someone who is possibly feeling exactly the same way as I am, maybe I can even make them laugh and smile, who knows. There is no such thing as an ordinary day in my life, what’s a normal day? There’s never been a normal day, even before the accident, there’s always a story to be told and nothing is ever straightforward with me! Behind the laughs and the smiles and the terribly dark humour, there is also sorrow, sadness and pain. The little Miss “Fix It” the “go to” girl, the one that’s always there to dig you out of a hole, is now that girl herself and believe you me, this crown doesn’t sit comfortably upon my head. I’m the girl that kept knocking on Heavens gate but St. Peter was either out shopping at Aldi or hiding behind the sofa whispering, don’t let that nutter in! I want to participate in life again and no one is going to stop me from doing that, there’s days I need a note from my Mam to say my P.E kit is in the wash but there are also days where I can write my first blog. Life is for living and once I’m off this spectators bench and back in the mix, that’s exactly what I intend to do!

As Steve Tyler the rubber lipped rock god himself once said, life’s a journey not a destination ….