A Carer's Story
I will never forget the phone call that Sunday, two days before Christmas 2012. It was the call every parent dreads, it was Mandy's eldest son Sam “Nan, Mum has collapsed on the kitchen floor and I've called the ambulance”. That call not only changed Mandy's life but also that of her two sons Sam and Luke (then 20 and 18) and also that of Barry, my husband and Mandy's dad, and mine. Mandy's stroke was severe and we were told by the A & E doctor that it was touch and go whether Mandy would pull through. The first few days in hospital were frightening, she was unable to speak or move and was fed through a tube but with expert care from the staff at the BRI she began her long road to recovery.
Christmas came and went that year as did Mandy's 39th birthday and we spent the next three months visiting Mandy daily in hospital, firstly the BRI followed by a long stay at South Bristol Hospital in Hengrove. Ironically Mandy was a staff nurse on the stroke ward at the RUH in Bath before her stroke so from the early days I always felt she was aware of what had happened to her and what to expect in the future.
An unexpected Christmas!
As Barry and I live in a bungalow Mandy came to live with us in March 2013 when she was discharged from hospital, together with her son Luke and her brown Labrador dog, Buddy. On our first weekend we celebrated Christmas, out came the tree and all the trimmings, the turkey was defrosted and all our family gathered for a very special meal, there were even presents under the tree for our son Matthew's children Tommy (then 7) and Francesca (5) – they couldn't believe it.
Mandy's stroke affected her right-hand side leaving her unable to use her right hand and with limited use of her right leg, unfortunately it also affected her speech which must be the most frustrating thing for her, she tries so hard and thankfully she is able to laugh at herself when the wrong word pops out. We lovingly call her the Vicar of Dibley because she will often say when asked a question “yes, yes, yes, no” which causes such confusion.
In July 2014 Mandy decided she would like to attend Bristol After Stroke's Fishponds Stroke Support Group and I have seen her grow in confidence from her first day there when she struggled to tell the group who she was and when she had her stroke to someone who now quite happily joins in with the activities organised by the group leader. Mandy and I were warmly welcomed and made to feel at home immediately. Meeting others affected by a stroke has helped her tremendously.
We are so proud
Barry and I are so proud of Mandy with the way she has coped with her 'new life', she makes being her carer easy – she is never miserable or down, she is so happy-go-lucky: she accepts that this is the hand that has been dealt to her and she has to play it, how I admire and love her.