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.