Neuro rehabilitation during the pandemic
On 14 August I was planning to go for a walk at Nymans Gardens with Claudia, my wife. I felt a bit wobbly in the morning, but I had breakfast and Claudia asked if I was capable of walking. I replied yes and drove the car as it was an automatic. When we arrived, I headed to the toilets and just managed to get there as I felt that something was wrong. We started walking and got about 100 yards before I needed to sit down again. Then we went round to see the old house, walked over the lawn and I bumped into a few bushes, tripped on the steps and fell down into a rose bed.
Someone went and got me a chair and put it under me and strength came back to me, enough for me to feel that I could get back to the car. We walked back although I had to stop once, but I managed to get to the car and into the driving seat. Then I felt fine again. We sat and ate some sandwiches and then Claudia offered to drive us home, but as I felt fine I drove. Claudia was in tatters – I didn’t realise I’d had a stroke at all. It hadn’t affected my brain – I could still talk, hear and I could still see, everything was normal on my face.
When we got home Claudia got out and I put the car into the garage. As I was getting out of the car my leg gave way. Claudia got me a seat and then called for the neighbours to help get me into the house where I sat down. We called 111 who sent an ambulance. They tested me and decided they needed to get me to hospital. I was in East Surrey hospital for 10 days and then I went to QEF.
Obviously because of the pandemic I had to be in insolation in my room for two weeks when I first got to QEF which I found hard, especially because I couldn’t do anything for myself – I couldn’t wash, I couldn’t dress myself because my foot, knee and leg on my left side and my left hand were all affected, but my speech, my eyes, my hearing were all fine.
I had to learn how to walk again and how to use my left hand. I did lots of occupational therapy to try and keep this part of the body alive. My foot wasn’t so bad, I had to put it down firmly in the gym and push out on it to help move my right foot forward. I can’t do much with my hand but it hasn’t lost its grip though. When I use my left hand with my right hand it grips as well, so I’m able to pull myself up using both hands. They work well together which is good.
My physio sessions started within 1-2 weeks of being at QEF whilst I was still in isolation, by the side of my bed. I even started to walk 5 or 6 steps along the side of the bed and that was a real red letter day for me, working with Katie and a couple of other physios.
After my first two weeks at QEF I was looking forward to coming out of isolation and getting to the physiotherapy gym, I’d been really looking forward to that, as I felt it would really move me forward. The day I was due to go to the gym I got an infection and was transported back to East Surrey. I was there for two weeks to sort it out and then of course I had to go back into isolation for two weeks when I came back to QEF because of the pandemic.
I’ve been able to overcome this with God’s help and I am on the way to a reasonable measure of recovery. I went home on Monday 16 November and continue with my physio and occupational therapy there for at least the next six weeks, including having carers morning and evening. My family were waiting for me, my wife and three daughters; two who live close by and one who lives further away. One daughter is living with us for a few weeks so I can get used to doing things for myself. They were able to visit during the pandemic but they had to book specific visiting times and share these times between them, so my wife visited one day and then my daughters.
My biggest achievement at QEF is being able to walk again and do my best with what energies I have in my hand and foot. I am a Christian and it was a joy to be able to join church services on Zoom and see them all. I tried to express my faith whilst I was at QEF and I’ve been very comforted by people who have listened to what I have said. I’m a joyful young man, I’ve never thought of myself as an old person even though I’m over 80.
QEF is a warm hearted place, especially because of all the lovely greenery around. It is not forbidding in any way, it’s actually quite a compelling place to be. I’m very thankful to God that he sent me straight here after 10 days in hospital. I didn’t like being in isolation but it happened in quite a big room that led out onto a flat tarmac area that meant I could sit out in the sunshine. I enjoyed watching the seasons change, and all the colours changing as Autumn came. There’s also a wonderful apple tree and sometimes you can even see deer.
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