Just as I was thinking 'this hurts' I started to feel sick as well. Deciding immediate action was required, I did what any right-minded cricket fan would do and headed for the loo.
As I made my way to the loo I was aware that the pain in my head was increasing dramatically and by the time I got there I didn't know whether to sit on it, kneel in front of it or lie down. I had never experienced anything like the pressure that seemed to be building.
4 years ago, when he was 49, my younger brother had a severe stroke and almost twelve months to the day my dad had one too. Not that it's a family trait or anything but I knew what was happening to me was not what my brother had experienced as I was with him when he had his. If it wasn’t a stroke, what the hell was happening to me?
This made me start to panic. Hot and cold sweats and faintness added to the pain. Thankfully, I recognised the panic attack for what it was and tried my best to not let it get the better of me. I was also in a situation where I was almost on my own. Our downstairs loo is at the back of the house and my wife was asleep in our bedroom, upstairs at the front.
Feeling like I would pass out at any time, I still have no idea how I got myself to the top of the stairs and made it to the bedroom door. I woke my wife saying that something was not right and maybe she should call the NHS helpline.
I remained conscious (in a heap on the floor) and, as the panic attack subsided, was able to communicate what I was feeling to my wife who was talking to the NHS operator. Within minutes an ambulance crew was at the door and the next thing I remember was being on my way to Blackpool Victoria Hospital (not where you want to be after midnight on a Saturday in the Illuminations).
I remember being given something for the pain, having a CT scan and being sick a lot but most of the evening is a whirl. The quality of the scan was not good enough for the A&E doctors to make a firm decision but they suspected an SAH. I was transferred to the Neurosurgery Unit at Royal Preston.
Another CT scan showed the bleed at the base of my skull but still the cause could not be specified. So, a scary angiogram followed and a non-aneurysmal SAH was confirmed. When I say the angiogram was scary, although it was a curious sensation occasionally feeling this thing navigating its way around my brain. What was scary was the quick, pre-op chat that one of the team gave me about an hour before I went in where he calmly told me of the risks.
My wife was on her way to the hospital but I couldn’t reach her on her phone. I lay for a while and cried when a trainee nurse, who was being shown the ward, asked me if I was OK. I wasn’t and I couldn’t even speak to communicate this. As only my close family knew I was in hospital, I posted on Facebook, said my goodbyes to my friends and hoped for the best. Within seconds I had so many shocked friends wishing me well that I burst into tears again.
I was still like this when the porter came to take me for the angiogram. I asked if I could wait a few minutes but was told I had to go now. I have never felt more alone or scared in my life. Thankfully, my wife arrived just after I’d gone into theatre and they let her in to see me for a minute.
The procedure went well but I was dropped when being transferred from the trolley to the table (and again after the procedure) right on my Coccyx which now hurts a lot! This only became apparent after I’d come home and was not having morphine any more.
That said, that standard of most of the care that I received was really good. I would like to thank the staff at both BVH A&E and Royal Preston for the care they gave. Some of the nursing staff are fantastic in their attention and dedication to duty (sadly, some aren't!).
After a week in Preston I returned home to spend a further week or so in bed before the pain had subsided enough for me to try to move around.
I was tired and stiff from not moving. I had tinnitus in my left ear and was sensitive to bright lights but was eating regularly, sleeping often and drinking lots of water.
As I started to get about a bit I experienced an odd sensation of dizziness and a numb/tingly feeling in my left thigh. If I had been sitting for a while and stood up, I would go about 7 or 8 steps and then a 'wave' of pressure felt as if it came up my back and through my head. It stops me in my tracks. I feel as though I have to get hold of something to steady myself.
After a few weeks the pain in my head started to fade, as did the tinnitus and light sensitivity. The coccyx pain is a whole other story. After a couple of months the dizziness also subsided but the odd numbness remained.
Four months on and I feel as though I should be back at work. Not quite got ‘cabin fever’ but I think I need the routine. I still get quite tired if I do too much but I can just about cope with that. The most annoying (worrying) thing that has made an unwelcomed return is what I can only describe as dizziness.
It doesn't feel like any dizziness I had experienced prior to the SAH and I really struggle to describe exactly how it feels. It’s a bit like a ‘wave’ of pressure that comes up through the back of my neck and through to the top of my head. Some days my head just feels ‘thick’. The consultant at Preston sent me for another MRI to see if anything shows up but I haven't had a follow-up appointment yet. The scan was just before Christmas.
I’ve read a few posts on here of other people struggling to describe similar sensations and am curious as to how many other NASAH sufferers have experienced this dizzy sensation and whether it ever goes.
I'm not desperate to return to work. They say they're not desperate to have me back! (I hope they mean that in a good way) I count myself lucky that I get full pay whilst off sick (not sure how long that will last). However, in my absence someone else has to teach my students (I'm a University lecturer) and I'm acutely aware of the difficulties associated with that, and the thought of already burdened colleagues having to step in doesn't sit easily.
But if this dizziness doesn't ease up I don't think I will be able to do the job that I have loved for the last 17 years.
This 'Catch 22' situation of wanting to do more but cautious about doing too much gets to me a bit. Please, someone tell me it gets easier!
Time will tell.
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