Blog #9

Be thankful for what you have right now, keep fighting for what you want tomorrow – unknown.


Many people live in uncertain circumstances and some have the opportunity to change their situation and this is what I did in September. It was time for my long awaited operation! The journey up to Birmingham seemed beautiful, the sun was shining almost blinding at times and it felt like summer time once again. Arriving at the hospital seemed to bring divided emotions, apprehension and determination. No matter how many times someone reassured me that everything was going to be ok I just couldn’t get around the fear I had stuck in my head. It didn’t help that all of a sudden they weren’t even sure if there was a bed available let alone if the operation was going to happen the next day, why? Because of a bed shortage! As we sat waiting in a room, they told us it would be after 6pm then they would know as that’s when they allocate beds. The nurse came and asked if we would be prepared to book into a hotel if there wasn’t a bed that night and come back in the morning but there still wasn’t any guarantee they would operate because of any emergencies they had during the night! There were so many questions firing off in my head. Was this operation meant to be? Was this a sign? I was so close to getting back in the car but my wingman Nelly re assured me that if I didn’t stay I would only have to come back another time. Eventually at 8.15 pm they found me a bed. I had read and heard about bed shortages and operations cancelled but being caught up in the whole crazy system of the NHS bed allocation is a nightmare especially after a 4-hour drive. It certainly messes with your anxiety levels! The next morning came around far too quick, it was a day that needed to come but at the same time I wanted to avoid it. I was petrified that something was going to go wrong as I know how operations can be life changing during mishaps, I saw it up in Salisbury Spinal unit and have heard about it. The first thing I heard the next morning was that I was going to have my operation but the nurse couldn’t tell me what time of the day until she had received her theatre list. Next, which seemed like no time at all I was whisked away by the theatre staff and I totally forgot my fear until I woke up. Having woken up in intensive care and then the familiar faces of Nelly and my Mum coming up to my bed gave me a sense of relief. Everything seemed to be going pretty well for the first hour or so until I started to be sick. Being sick when you are unable to sit up is pretty scary! I stayed in intensive care for a further 2 days because once again there wasn’t a bed on the neurological ward for me to go to. I eventually had a bed on a ward but several days went by with me trying to overcome the aftermath of the pain and more sickness. It became another battle, as then the headaches really started to kick in and they were unbearable but having had worse situations thrown at me through my time looking back they seemed easier to deal with. They did further tests, chest X-ray and a brain scan to see why I was having such severe headaches and sickness. The consultant told me that I was experiencing cerebral hypertension which basically is the fluid in my brain cavity draining possibly too quickly, so the brain drops slightly as the operation involved fitting a shunt to drain the excessive fluid from a cyst on my spinal cord. The shunt, which is a tube, will drain the excess fluid into the pleural cavity and then it will be absorbed into the body. Only a few minority of cases would experience cerebral hypertension and typically mine did and believe me it was painful! After 8 days of being in hospital I was able to come home. Home my safe haven like big arms around me holding me tight, as those 8 days had been really tough and without my 2 special amazing people Mum and Nelly I really would have totally crumbled mentally. Unfortunately the care for me could of been a lot better by some of the staff but that is getting all too familiar with us now. I’m so glad I had the support from Mum and Nelly to pick up the pieces and do the unfinished jobs of the nurses.
I really did under estimate how I would feel after the operation I wasn’t expecting to be still experiencing headaches on a daily basis 2 months down the line, don’t get me wrong the headaches had eased and I was able to sit up whereas before I couldn’t stand the light let alone sitting up without the sharp pains in my head. Many times I questioned if this was going to be a permanent pain and numerous occasions I felt like I didn’t want to be part of this story anymore, but what other chance have I got? This is my life and I’ve got to live with it and go with it. Deep dark days come and go and I think they will always be part of my life. With having been so unwell and unable to do a lot I’ve had time to think and reflect on my life and even though I want to move forward, there’s always been something stopping me. I sometimes think if I didn’t have such a great life before the accident would I find letting go easier or would it still be a constant haunting reminder of what I’ve lost. The more tears I cry I find I am moving forward, I am learning to let go, releasing the built up hurt, fear and pain. It almost seems everyday I’m learning a bit more about myself and my life and it’s certainly a complicated map. To think where I was last year, the year before and the year before that, well if I could I would give myself a massive pat on the back as I’ve achieved so much.
Things have slowly started to get back to normal, finding myself back at the gym is a place where I feel at ease to be me, I know once I’ve done a bit of exercise I’m re energised for the rest of the day. I never really liked going to the gym before my accident and some days I still feel like that now but instead of finding excuses why I won’t be going I push myself to at least go, as now I’m going to improve my life.
When Nelly and I have moved back in with my parents after the accident, there was always a plan to improve our living area and finally this year we started to have building work done. They’ve extended their house to make a sort of granny flat for us! Having been use to Nelly sleeping on a mattress on the floor next to my single hospital bed for the past two years our situation has been made a bit more normal as we are now sleeping in a double bed again. I almost forget what it’s like to sleep in a double bed, the occasional snore I now hear close to my ear is something I’ll never complain about for a while! as I’ve missed the closeness and that familiar sound but I now have it back. It may not be our own house but it’s a start in the right direction. Nelly and I have our own lounge and bigger bedroom now and because I’m so close to my mum, dad and brother I would miss them a lot if we did move out. So this is perfect for us for the time being.
I’ve always been a person who was never satisfied for what I had, I always wanted to achieve more and if I couldn’t reach my goal I would find a way to get to the point where I was happy and content, there was never options for me. I never gave myself chance to reflect and figure out what would be possible for me, I dream big and never loose that hope. Recently pretty much every night I’ve had night demons, not because I pity my life but the tiredness I’ve driven myself to feel. The worry that creeps into my head about my parents how desperately I’d want to look after them when they’re older but how can I when I can’t even look after myself. Seeing my friends starting to have children and questioning myself whether I will have a child of my own, as what sort of mum could I ever be, it’s sad but true. And then there’s this whole walking again malarky I constantly think about 24/7, it’s like a permanent tattoo and let’s face it, it’s not going to budge for quite a while. I’ve tried to except that being in a wheelchair is the life for me but it really isn’t, in fact I hate it, the uncomfortable back and the being restricted to one position is horrendous, I can’t think of anything good about it. It’s crazy to think that the majority of all my pre accident pictures are me standing up not sitting down and now how things have drastically changed. Someone did try and tell me I should replace my old photographs I have scattered around with new ones but I personally don’t agree after all every picture holds a special memory from me posing with my friends to looking on top of the world with Nelly. They tell and show a treasured story that only myself can be grateful for and trust me I certainly am.
With 2015 literally around the corner, our wedding day is fast approaching. Having dreamt a lot about the day recently, almost puts me at ease. Everything in my dreams are perfect, I’m walking and we are so happy although I seem to have forgotten the flowers but I can deal with that if I’m walking. To me my dreams feel real they are strategically made up of my ideas, images, memories and hope. They have become stories that now never quite leave me, I sometimes forget what exactly happens but my dreams have touched me that much they stay with me, haunting the places in my mind that I occasionally like to visit. Now the wait turns into months, then weeks and then days it’s an exciting year ahead and I can’t wait to marry Nelly. Through the tough few years our love has grown stronger, our lives have been scattered with madness but we’ve somehow found the strength to keep going. Like two trees we’ve found a way to stay strong and grow roots towards each other underground through the years until the time was right. When life tried to separate us the pretty blossoms from the branches blew away and we found we were only one tree not two. Here’s to 2015.






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One Comment

  1. Anna Richards says:

    Great writing as always Carly, you are truely talented. Good luck with the wedding planning, you and Nelly are lucky to have each other, let that light up your dark days xx

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