Tag Archive | stroke

Anniversary

It’s the two-year anniversary of my mum’s stroke tomorrow. Not exactly the sort of anniversary one would want to celebrate. Sadly, although she was only seventy, the stroke affected her very badly. Even as I try to write about it now it feels too painful, because the fact is that she was never the same again. Apart from the disability – initially she lost the use of her left arm and leg – there was some personality change. The mum that we knew has, despite two years of effort and recovery of the ability to walk, never returned. She herself says that her old self is gone forever. We keep trying, working hard at further rehabilitation in the hope that it will bring about a change, but it seems increasingly unlikely.

On that night of the 29th June 2009, we sat in an A&E department for five hours, and the only treatment she received was oxygen. TPA (clot-busting drug) was not available at that hospital after 5pm. When eventually a doctor came to check the use of her arm and leg, they were moving. He didn’t even seem to think she was having a stroke, but he did decide to admit her. I thought that the stroke had just been a bad TIA (transient ischaemic attack) and she was recovering, and then I watched her being taken down the corridor towards a ward. Now, every time I remember her being wheeled away it’s like she was being taken down a tunnel from which my real mum would never emerge. The next day when we went to visit her, expecting to find her well on the way to recovery, we discovered a severely damaged, badly disabled person. Either she’d had another stroke or the same stroke just carried on all night. The hospital did nothing, not even to warn us of what we were about to find.

As I write, I realize that it makes me angry still, and is still raw enough to make me want to cry for the loss of my mum, and for all the other people who go through this and experiences like it.

I don’t dwell on it too much these days, and we concentrate on trying to improve our mum’s quality of life and on regaining more use of her arm and leg, but I suppose the pain never goes away – for her, or for us, her daughters.

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Dreams of New Zealand

All my life I’d wanted to go to New Zealand, so in 2007 I took the plunge, threw in my job and went. I knew it would put me further into debt, but I also saw the credit crunch coming and thought it might be my last chance. I went for three months, travelled around, did whatever I wanted and made up for many years – most years – of having no holidays. By the time I had no choice but to return home I’d decided NZ was a sort of second home. I even thought that it might be worth thinking of moving there altogether.

Back here in the UK, I had problems with my parents to deal with. My dad seemed to be declining mentally and my mum, whilst in no way infirm and mentally extremely sharp, was becoming quite dependent. She hadn’t wanted me to go to New Zealand, and with my dad’s decline she was very much against my leaving the country again the next winter, which was what I had proposed, and indeed when the time came I didn’t feel able to do it for a variety of reasons.

I had in mind that winter 2009-10 would have to do instead, but then in June 2009 my mum had a stroke as a result of atrial fibrillation and it was like a bomb went off in all our lives. My mum was in hospital for three months, my dad’s Alzheimer’s worsened and I couldn’t go back to employment (having almost finished my novel) because there was no time. I was earning no money but incurring more debts – and still am. My mum came home in September 2009 but she wasn’t the same, and my dad’s decline steepened upon her return. He couldn’t accept that the severely disabled person who came home was his wife.

My dad died in December 2009, and my mum’s condition has improved since to the extent that she is now able to walk. Sadly we (my sister and I) were only able to help her with the walking after my dad died. As he didn’t understand properly what had happened, he didn’t like it when I tried to get her to do anything to improve her condition.

So that is how things stand now. My mum living alone, slowly regaining some mobility but still very dependent and severely depressed and having to be pushed at every turn to try to improve. I have a huge minus with the bank and an unsold novel that I know ought to do well and the dream of returning to New Zealand to keep me warm.

My new novel is set in New Zealand, so at least I can travel there in spirit as I’m writing it, and now I am keeping the dream alive that I will get back there this winter, but with no money and my mum still so dependent I wonder if it will be yet another year before I get to return.

Never give up, never surrender!