On 13 February 2005 I felt very tired, and then got a bad headache. I thought it was because I was receiving chemotherapy for colon cancer. Fortunately my husband guessed I'd had a stroke. I was admitted to hospital. I wasn't expected to last the night. I needed a tube to let air in; that kept me alive. Memories of that night are all intact. I had an anesthetic for a ct scan as I was fitting and came round to a nightmare. I'd been on life support.
Nothing moved. I could only blink and needed a tracheotomy to breath. I was totally soundless. The outlook was bleak, doctors told my husband I was unlikely to survive more than a few weeks, and if I did there'd be no more movement. I'd had a massive stroke caused by a clot, probably a result of chemotherapy. Bleak nights followed, willing myself to make it through the night. About two months later I was still here, silent but getting stronger. Then a miracle; my left arm and leg moved. I kept improving till they were normal and so were my head movements. Now my right side will move slowly but not enough to be useful. I'm lucky as it is all gradually working. I remember thinking it didn't seem real, and asked family if it was a dream. In the early days I slept a lot.
One day after about 3 months I coughed out my tracheotomy. They hurried round. It was an emergency but finally I could breath air alone and make sounds. A year later I'm still learning to talk again. My tongue was paralysed and even now won't move as it should. I'd been fed by a tube into my stomach but now I have started to eat and drink. I was fortunate in that my mind was not affected and if I could concentrate long enough I could still read. It is very frustrating though to have normal thought processes and not be able to voice them.
All in all I spent 11 months in hospital and residential rehab. At rehab I choked. The reason is subject to discussion. The medical staff gave me CPR to start me breathing, and rushed me to hospital. I had 100% double pneumonia. Doctors said my blood gases were so high I had just hours. Another miracle though, I rewrote the medical books and normalised. My goodness what my poor family has gone through too, my sons (aged 10, 12 and 13 at the time of the stroke), rightly I feel, were kept fully informed of my condition and it has been something of a rollercoaster ride for them. They've grown up a lot. I survived all my time away with humour, playing practical jokes where I could.
In May 2006, I've recently stood with my physio's help. The aim is to change my method of transferring to my wheelchair from the present hoist which would transform my life. Each day I do 2 hours of exercises, standing with a standing frame and some days I have therapy as well. It is hard work but just last week my physio said she thinks one day I'll be back on my feet. Speech is coming on, some words now are recognizable. I can say "rain" which is handy living in the UK! For now, I'm just grateful to be here and proud of my achievements. As a bonus I lost three dress sizes due to the tube but I think my diet was a bit drastic to copy!
Dianne passed away June 2008.