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

      Maureen's Story

      At the age of 44 years old I thought I had it all. A successful career, two wonderful children, a loving husband and a house I thought I would only of dreamed of, oh and of course my two cats!

      I began having problems with facial pain in November 2002, I had had several trips to the doctors, a trip to the opticians and 2 hospital visits, one to A & E with problems with my left eye and one to a rapid ENT (ear nose and throat) clinic.  I received treatment for my sinuses, neuralgia and an eye infection, but the pain went on.

      I eventually went off work sick at the beginning of February 2003, fortunately I can not remember very much about this time, but I do remember lying on the couch with ice packs on my face as it was the only way I could cope with the pain.

      My family doctor was very good, he had hoped that the Consultant at the ENT clinic would have organised a CT scan for me as he could have arranged one quicker that he could of.  Unfortunately the Consultant just said my GP was treating me correctly and made another appointment to see me in a month. I never made that appointment.

      When my GP followed up my clinic appointment and found out that I had not been offered a scan he arranged for me to have one on the 19th February 2003, this was another appointment that I did not keep.

      I remember lying on the couch with my ice pack and my partner being in the garden, my wonderful sister in law had called to see me and we had moved into the small lounge to have our girlie chat out of the way of my daughter who was 14 at the time and off school.  We had been talking for some time and my sister in law began to say her goodbyes to me and I remember trying to stand up from the chair I was sitting on when I felt the most tremendous pain in the top of my head, at first it felt as if an elastic band had snapped inside my head then I thought I must have been hit by lightening, then everything just went black.

      I had in fact collapsed and as we later found out I had had a bleed in my head, an aneurysm, a subarachnoid haemorrhage, the date was the 18th February 2003, the day before my long awaited scan.  I spent the next 8 weeks in hospital, I had several complications after my bleed and spent time in intensive care and high dependence units.  

      The treatment I received at the specialist Neurology and Neurosurgery hospital, the Walton Centre in Liverpool saved my life. I was initially transferred from the first hospital I went to as they had no beds available on their intensive care unit. I was on a life support machine on 2 occasions, initially this was to stabilize me but when they try to take me off it the first time my windpipe was torn so I had to be put back on the machine. During this time I had a heart attack and had a pulmonary oedema, I was eventually transferred over to the Walton Centre where I had coilings done for my bleed.  

      I had terrible problems with photophobia and spent my time hiding behind a face mask, my hearing became very sensitive and I couldn’t bear loud noise, food was a no no, the mere thought of it would bring on nausea and terrible wrenching that would seem to go on for hours. I lost 2 stone in weight and lost all muscle tone in my body so just walking around the ward when I finally managed to get out of bed was very difficult.  I had to have a second operation to have a shunt fitted as I developed hydrocephalus after I had my bleed.

      My mental health also suffered and I was later diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress,  I really didn’t want to take antidepressants and for a long time refused medication that was offered,  if I was to change anything it would be this, I would of accept help in this area much sooner,  those happy pills certainly did the trick and were carefully controlled by my GP not addictive as I thought they were going to be.

      My  8 weeks in hospital were very confusing for me,  there are things I don’t remember,  things that happened to me  that made me feel as if I was dreaming and other painful confusing times that I wish I could forget.   Writing is something that has helped me enormously on my road to recovery, I wrote a poem called, “Why me” as a way of trying to put in order my 8 weeks in hospital. This poem  goes some way to begin to explain what this life changing event in my life was like for me,  I was one of the lucky ones, I survived to tell my tale,  I had the easy job,  I don’t think I could of coped watching someone I loved so much going through the trauma of a subarachnoid haemorrhage.

      Now, 7 years down the line, my life had changed beyond belief, I am not the person I ever thought I would be, but I am here. The biggest problem for me is fatigue, I get so tired and really have to pace myself so I can function thought-out the day.  I have problems with my vision as the nerves to my left eye were damaged by my bleed so I have double vision and am still sensitive to light as my pupil doesn’t dilate.  My short term memory has improve greatly, it’s still not brilliant but I find that doing things in a routine, keeping a diary and writing little notes to myself really helps. I have managed to return to work on a part time basis and my work life balance seems to be right at the moment.

      My road to recovery has not been easy, trying to come to terms with my limitations has been very difficult, not only for me, but also my family. A Brain Haemorrhage is a long term life changing event that you have to learn to embrace and not fight,  I have adjusted my life accordingly and can now say again that I am in a vey happy place in my life and I wouldn’t change a single thing that has happened to me.  The experience of my brain haemorrhage has made me the person I am and I have met some wonderful people during this time who have encouraged and empowered me so much, thank you.   I don’t look back I always look forward and my motto is, “One Life, Live it!”….  and I do!!

      Maureen Mellor
      13th April 2010

      Why Me?

      What’s happening to me?  Is this a dream or reality?
      First I was at home, now I wake up alone.
      Voices all around, no familiar faces to be found.
      I want to say more, please take hold of my hand and walk me out through that door.

      A sense of urgency rushing all around.
      I’m there for a moment, then cannot be found.
      How long have I been in this bed, what’s happening in my head?
      Where can I be? What’s happening to me?

      They won’t let me sleep.  I can’t get on my feet.
      I’m in so much pain, will I ever laugh again?
      There’s needles again, oh no not more pain.
      How long will this go on. Just let me be gone!

      Machines are bleeping, tubes in my mouth,
      White walls now dark places, I’ve got to hang on.
      The retching the pain, another headache again
      I try desperately to sleep. Oh! No! I can’t eat.

      This time’s not right for me, there has to be more fight in me.
      My family is so dear to me, how I need them so near to me.
      Bright lights are a fear to me, like knives cutting into me.
      Stay close be here with me, the nights are so long to me.

      Confusion, hysteria are about to set in.
      Don’t leave me know I’ll make a terrible din.
      Bare with, me be kind,
      I’m not really going out of my mind.

      There’s been problems in my head, the nice man just said.
      I’m moved to another bed, what’s that he just said?
      My hairs all gone, I’ve still got my nighie on.
      I feel ever so weak, not more tablets I need sleep!

      Now smiling faces, cards and gifts all around.
      Well wishes are said, they want me home now instead.
      A new day is dawning, life’s given me a warning.
      There’s still fuzziness in my head, I wish I could remember what was said.

      I’m leaving my hospital bed, I’m heading home.
      I must do as I’m told and can’t be left alone.
      I’m so glad to still be here, life is precious and dear.
      I have fear held, within but this battle, I’ll win.

      Maureen Mellor – July 2003