I was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) A&E, where there were eight clinicians waiting for me. Duncan, supported by friend, Jacky, kept a vigil around me whilst I was being observed – and deteriorating.
I remained in A&E overnight, having had a CT scan and other investigations, and then transferred to Heydon ward (stroke ward) later that day. I remained on the ward for four days until I was transferred to Addenbrookes hospital for neurosurgery. Concern that I had had another stroke meant that Addenbrookes was the best hospital to be in if I needed an emergency operation.
After six days on the ward I deteriorated. Apparently, I was becoming more agitated, obsessed with my phone and cleaning my bedside table with the edge of my sheet amongst other activities! Because of this, they decided to operate on the Thursday evening. I still find it a horrific thought that my head was cut open, probably with an electric saw, and you can still see the scar line! The neurosurgeon told me at the follow-up outpatient appointment that the second bleed, which occurred whilst I was being observed at the NNUH, was life threatening as it was pressing down on my spinal cord.
Duncan was taken aside on two occasions to warn him that I was not looking good and to prepare him for me not surviving. I was completely unaware this was happening and completely oblivious that I might die. This experience has left me with a deeply embedded fear that it might happen again, and certainly there have been times subsequently when this anxiety has been quite acute, and I have had several panic attacks. I have felt incredibly sad that I have not achieved everything I want to do, or have potential for, should I die.
I cannot remember much of this period of my care, as I was sleeping a lot and in a semi-conscious state. I have gleaned details about it from Duncan and others who were around. Several family and friends visited during this period, but I can only vaguely remember them being there.
Three weeks after my stroke, following the Norfolk Stroke Pathway, it was decided that I no longer required acute medical care, and it was time to transfer me for rehabilitation. I was in a sorry state, being hoisted for transfers, unable to sit or eat unaided, with slurred speech – and quite frankly a complete mess, physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually!