May 7th 2008 - an evening I will never forget. I had been trying to ring mum about 5.00 p.m. and could not understand why I was not getting an answer just the answer phone - so left a message! Maybe she is out watering the garden - tried again about 30 mins later - still no reply - tried her mobile - no reply from that either. I knew mum would have been there - already panic started to set in. I rang her neighbour who let herself in with her key and I then had the call to say mum was in bed and had been sick everywhere. I got to her house on two wheels - strange but I just had that feeling that something was terribly wrong.
Luckily it was only 15 mins away and mum was pretty incoherent - the vomit was just about everywhere and all she kept saying was "I feel so ill - help me". I immediately rang 999 - the rapid reponse team came within 5 mins and felt mum should be checked over in hospital - they said all her obs were fine and they rigged up a drip to the wardrobes. The paraemedics took about an hour to come and they were equally as baffled. We got to hospital about 9.00 p.m. all mum's veins had shut down and they took best part of 2 hours to get some blood, eventually it came from her foot. I told them that mum seemed some what confused so about 11.00 p.m. they took her for a head scan. When they came back and told me mum had had a SAH, my legs just buckled beneath me, I am a Medical Secretary (so a little knowledge can be dangerous) but I knew the outcome looked bleak and that this was life threatening. By 2.00 a.m. mum was having surgery as she had hydrocephalus, we got to see her about 6.00 a.m. I could never imagine so many wires and tubes in all my life coming from a person.They told me she also had pneumonia and to expect the worst. Mum was 75.
The next few days were a blur, she just lay there lifeless and on a ventilator and they could not get her BP under control. She was too poorly for the head scan they wanted to do. Then on about day 5 mum opened her eyes and started taking some deep breaths but her heart and lungs were poor and she was very puffy and swollen all over her body but when she opened her eyes I knew she knew I was there. She then had the scan which showed that the aneurysm was amenable to coiling but her chest needed to improve fiirst. On the 13th May mum was off the sedation and was spelling out words by nodding and on the 14th she had her aneurysm coiled. That was another of the longest few hours of my life and when the hospital rang me to say she was through it I just danced for joy.
On May 17th the doctor decided to turn the ventilator off which really scared me - the nurse who was mainly looking after mum felt she was not ready for it but the doctor had the final say. Unfortunately mum was not ready and things took a downward slide. Her BP and oxygen levels dropped and they thought she had an MI. The Dr spoke with us very frankly and said the odds were stacked against her.
By some sort of miracle she surprised us and the doctors and the next day she was sat up in bed waving. They told us it was amazing. Mum has this habit of curling her lip up at the corner - and when she did that I was so happy. Mum then went on to have a tracheostomy which stayed in for about a month and she was home in 7 weeks.
Now almost a year on Maggie is back living independently. She obviously gets highs and lows and the year hasn't been easy, but she is my walking miracle so for any carer reading this story miracles do happen - my mum was one of them. Never give up hope; although at times I know this is very hard. It has made me a stronger person and I can't imagine any day being harder than the day it all happened. My thanks go to Frenchay Hospital, Bristol for saving her life.
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