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

      Nandy's Story

      After the New Year celebrations in January 2009 I thought it would be a good idea to visit friends and family in the USA for a few days.

      Our son and granddaughter live in North Carolina and we have other family and friends in Connecticut. We agree to all meet up in Hartford, Connecticut.

      My husband found a reasonably priced flight and booked it for me. He was filling in a questionnaire for insurance and I told him not to bother as it was only going to be 6 days. He insisted and paid the £34.

      I flew out on Tuesday 27th and arrived at JFK in the early afternoon. The weather was awful. The east coast was having the worst snow storms for many years. I got the coach to Hartford and arrived at the pre-booked hotel to find that my son and granddaughter had had their flight cancelled and wouldn’t now arrive until Wednesday lunchtime.

      I have no recollection of  seeing them when they did arrive although my son tell’s me that we had a lovely lunch and a good laugh. I was told that I began to feel very hot and faint and began projectile vomiting. I collapsed and my son called the paramedics.

      I have no memory of anything for the next 3 to 4 weeks. My son told me that the ambulance took me to the local general hospital and he followed in his hire car, leaving my granddaughter in the hotel. The hospital doctors organised a brain scan and realised I had suffered a brain haemorrhage.

      They arranged for my transfer to Hartford Hospital, which is much larger and has a specialist unit for brain injury patients, again my son followed in the car in the middle of a major snowstorm.

      My son was in constant contact by mobile phone with my husband and once the extent of my problem was verified my husband and daughter flew out to be with me. By the time they arrived on Saturday I had been operated on and the aneurism had been coiled. I was heavily sedated and apparently had seventeen tubes going in and out of various parts of my body.

      I remember none of this.

      My husband and daughter arranged to stay on the hospital campus and my son and granddaughter returned to North Carolina for a few days and then came back to stay with me.

      The American doctors, nurses and other professionals were fantastic. The care they provided was second to none. A dedicated case worker acted as the go-between with the insurance company and the hospitals here in the UK.

      As the pressure was still high in my head the doctors decided to install a shunt, which they did a week after the original operation. At this point the insurance company began to press the doctors for me to be returned to the UK.

      Eventually the doctors agreed that it would be safe for me to fly as long as I had a nurse or other medical support for the journey. The insurance company arranged for a doctor to accompany me. They also paid for my husband to be on the same flight. My daughter flew home the day before and my son and granddaughter left at the same time.

      Negotiations had been going on with the Walton Centre for me to be admitted to the rehabilitation unit but they had insisted that I had to be admitted to Aintree University  Hospital first. I arrived there on 14th February 2009.

      After some initial hiccups I was put into Ward 22 which was a general ward overseen by a consultant who specialised in diabetes. I spent a total of six weeks there and they were the worst six weeks of my life – but that’s another story!

      I was transferred to the Walton Rehabilitation Unit after the six weeks, by which time I was walking unaided and washing and dressing myself. I was told I could go home after four days.

      During my time in Ward 22 I realised that I had what I called a ‘spider’ in my left eye. It was checked by the optician and I was referred to an opthalmologist at St. Paul’s Eye Hospital in Liverpool. (On 19th May 2009 I had an operation to remove some blood from my retina).

      My daughter had been trying to find out about follow-up support and was eventually put in touch with Tony Murphy, who was the PALS Coordinator at the Walton Centre. He in turn introduced us to the Brain Haemorrhage Support Group and the Road to Recovery Course.

      It has been wonderful to be able to share experiences with fellow sufferers and professionals. It always helps to talk and the Group has been a lifeline for us.

      I have been very,very lucky. I owe my life to the American doctors and I thank them each year with a new year card.

      Incidentally, the total cost of my American hospitalisation was just over £250,000. All covered by a £34 insurance policy. Moral : Never go anywhere without it!!!