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Living with SAH for over 24 years - Pat Conchie


In February 1983 when he was 46 years old my darling husband, Brian, had his first SAH. On investigation it transpired that he had and still has a mass of abnormal blood vessels in the brain. An operation was out of the question due to the location of these vessels as it would mean that Brian would lose his speech and he would be completely paralysed. Although his speech was rubbish the swear words were always perfect! He has severe weakness on his right hand side with either none or very little feeling. Brian works very hard each day with his exercises and has never given up and always has a smile. It took him two years of practicing to fasten his shoelaces until he eventually managed it. That was one of the many ‘mountains he has climbed’ over the years. Brian had managed to drive again, talk and walk but would never get back to work.

In December 1993 he suffered his second subarachnoid and was offered the chance to have interventional radiology at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford. During April and June the following year he underwent this treatment and continued to slowly improve bit by bit. They were able to seal off the ‘gushers’ but some of the ’seepers’ were inaccessible.

In December 2001 Brian had yet another bleed. This time it was not in the same area but more towards the base of the skull where the main stem starts to divide to form the ‘tree’, his right hand branch is blocked off, hence the left hand branch is trying to do all the work. This was pointed out to us using his x-ray. The area looked a bit like ’spaghetti junction’ and we could also see the glue spots from his earlier treatment in Oxford.

We were told that the doctors can do nothing more for Brian and ‘go home and have a good life’. I told them that we had been doing that for 19 years and we would just carry on enjoying ourselves.

We are now at over 24 years of living with this illness. He has had many mini-bleeds over the years and there is still nothing that they can do. He still has a severe weakness on his right hand side and since 2001 his speech has deteriorated and his movements are slower. Brian now sleeps anything between 11 and 15 hours every night.

Anything Brian can do around the house I let him do it. He tackles the simple ironing jobs and clearing away after meals and washing up.

He will be 71 in September 2007. We possibly have a better lifestyle than many able-bodied couples. We go out about 5 nights a week and go out in the afternoons also. We go abroad regularly

for wonderful holidays. He is the most perfect husband. He is much more understanding of my needs than before he was ever ill. We talk about our feelings much more and after 34 years of marriage we are more in love than ever.

Brian has gone through so much, the highs have been great but the lows are dreadful. We have both shed many tears but more than anything we have laughed and made jokes about life. This has been our way of getting through this marathon.

I could, and possibly will, write a book about our life together but meanwhile we are too busy getting on with our lives and no time to stand still.

Two quotations come to mind…

Sometimes we turn to God when our foundations are shaking only to find out it is God who is shaking them. Anon.

Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, of playing a poor hand well. Robert Louis Stevenson.

I want people to realise that it does not have to be all doom and gloom when something catastrophic like this happens. We have had to adapt to make a good life even better.

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