Providing practical and emotional
support for all people affected
by brain haemorrhage

      Leslie's Story

       

      I had my SAH on the 16th September 2006.


      The time was roughly 7.pm on a Saturday evening. I had just poured myself a glass of wine and rolled myself a ciggie and I went outside and sat down with my husband. I seem to think I had a sip of the wine, took a drag on the cig and then POW, an explosion in my head which I can only describe as what I imagine being hit in the head with a bolt gun is like. I told my husband I had a really, really bad pain in my head and wanted to go inside. I think he carried/dragged me into the house. I remember my daughter coming through the front door….then I was on the settee…incredibly hot….my leg and one of my arms wouldn’t work and the remaining two felt like they were shutting down. I told my daughter (15 years old) I think I am dying.


      I woke up maybe 5 days later. Where the hell am I…instant removal of nose tubes….why can I see two of everything?


      Apparently, I was in Southampton Neuro Unit.  I was originally taken to Winchester Hospital…I remember nothing of this….I was asked what had happened to me in Winchester and I told them my husband had hit me on the head with a hammer! I believe eventually I was admitted with a possible stroke/migraine which was then diagnosed as an SAH. I am given to understand that I was in the ICU and holding my own….I then deteriorated and went into a coma…my husband was told that my chances were very poor. I was given a test to check for brain death…which I passed…my husband was told if I regained consciousness I would be transferred to Southampton Neuro, if not, then curtains.


      So I woke up in Soton Neuro. The aneurysm had been coiled. I was there for three weeks…during the first two I was not allowed to get out of bed. I was having vasospasms which apparently are dangerous…lie still…do NOT get about of bed.I was still having vasospasms but after 3 weeks was allowed to go home.


      I remember very little of the next couple of years really. I know I was incredibly tired and spent most of the time sleeping. I was physically very weak and very confused. I couldn’t read, watch TV, couldn’t really hold a conversation as I would forget what I had said. I was having major issues with remembering anything and also controlling my temper and eventually I was referred to a clinical psychologist who helped me immensely.


      It took 18 months to actually get to see the psychologist Throughout this time I was in contact with my employer who was extremely good and supportive The result of the psychologist reports was that I would not be able to work again…hence I retired through ill health in March 2010.


      So I am now nearly 5 years on. Where did the time go?  A lot of it in a hazy blur.  I still have bad days… usually after I feel pleased that I am vastly improved something will happen which makes me realise I still have major issues. A spectre on my shoulder ..laughing…so you thought you were getting better….think again girly.


      I know I push myself hard to do things, to try and circumvent the issues I have. I am determined to build myself a new life and to move on from this event. My memory I think is improved from what it was but then I have mechanisms in place to cover where I know I forget. I always try to park my car in the same spot on a car park…I have lost it a few times lol. I am a queen of lists and post it notes.  If I get overtired then things start to unravel…my speech becomes confused, the words come out in the wrong order or the wrong words completely but I now laugh when this happens instead of worrying.  If people can’t understand me then that’s their problem not mine!  If I get stressed….which is usually over silly things (…major life changing events I seem to cope with) then I can still deteriorate rapidly, however, I have much better control over the stress. If I had a pound for every time I went to get the milk out of the fridge to discover I have already got it out I would be a millionaire by now.


      I did experience a lot of trouble with emotions in that I didn’t seem to have any.


      My sense of humour was still intact but I didn’t feel anything for anyone. I knew I loved my family but I didn’t feel any love. It is only recently that I have actually cried about anything. I felt immune from any sadness.


      I think the area I still have a lot of trouble with is the connection between my brain and my hands. I struggle to open bottles, fasten buttons and if clothes have an arm inside out it becomes a major issue to me to sort it out. I really have to think hard about which is right and left…its as though my hands have been put on back to front and are not really connected to my brain. How hard can it be to put a plug in a socket?


      I also have major problems with sleeping. I have very disturbed nights most nights and can get extremely sleep deprived. I do take naps during the day if I am overtired. However for the disturbed nights…the World Service is a godsend!


      A positive in my SAH recovery was the relationship with my mother who has recently died from Alzheimer’s.  I felt I could connect with how she felt. She was moving into the abyss and I was emerging from it, but at a crossover point in time we seemed to have a good understanding between us, a connection, I could empathise with what she was experiencing. It was good to spend time with someone who put absolutely no pressure on me…neither of us could remember what we were doing and could laugh together!


      So I am getting on with life.


      I have taught myself to crochet watching YouTube. I did have to watch the clip over and over again (seriously a few hundred times) but I did it and crocheted a hat. I listen to audio books constantly…mainly stories I already know from pre SAH days.  I have been on some days out to London accompanied by my daughter ( mother and daughter role reversal…lol…think it’s a bit like being with a little kid….for her).I can now watch movies again and sometimes work out the plot.


      A major achievement is being able to drive to see my Dad, a journey of 200 miles. I take my time and pick off peak travel times but I have done it. Usually totally whacked for a couples of days after and make a few mistakes but hey it’s still a positive.


      The one thing that has helped me to move forward is the return of my confidence, I am no longer afraid.


      I do plan events way in advance and have mini rehearsals in my mind of what I am going to do, but it all helps. I have managed to copewith being in crowds of people which in the early years was an impossibility..too much noise. I still won’t go shopping for pleasure though…too much stimulation….so that’s where the internet comes in!


      If anyone wants to ask me anything about my recovery/symptoms/experiences please feel free….If I can remember I will tell you..lol


      So onwards and upwards dudes. Sometimes I feel its one step forwards and three steps back..BUT I am getting there, I am moving forwards albeit not always as fast as I would like. I think the keyword is patience and the love and support of friends and family, especially my daughter who has been an absolute rock for someone who was only 15 when it happened.


      I feel happy and confident I will get to where I want to be and so will you all, its just going to take us some time.