Wide Awake IN A COMA

My hus­band thought I was brain dead and al­most switched off my life sup­port ma­chine… ALL I COULD DO WAS LIS­TEN TO TALK OF TURN­ING OFF MY LIFE SUP­PORT

Pick Me Up! Special - - Front Page -

As I stretched to turn off my beep­ing alarm clock, I felt pins and nee­dles spread­ing across my toes. ‘I must have slept funny,’ I thought to my­self, wrig­gling my feet around be­fore go­ing to wake up my son David, four.

Af­ter limp­ing around at work all day with numb feet, I headed straight to my GP’S.

‘It’s prob­a­bly noth­ing,’ I said to my doc­tor, a lit­tle em­bar­rassed.

But she sent me straight to A&E and I called my hus­band John, 58.

‘You have had a bad run of cold and flu lately,’ he said, as he sat with me. ‘I’m sure it’s noth­ing.’

The sen­sa­tion started to spread up my body and my breath­ing got so bad, I was ad­mit­ted overnight to be mon­i­tored on a res­pi­ra­tory ward.

As John went home to care for David, I tried to sleep, but I felt my breath­ing slow right down… and then I crashed.

Doc­tors rushed over and hooked me up to a ven­ti­la­tor. My heart was shocked three times be­fore it re­stored to its nor­mal rhythm.

Once I was sta­ble, I was trans­ferred to in­ten­sive care.

Although every­thing was a lit­tle hazy, I was still aware of the com­mo­tion of doc­tors and nurses all around me on the ward.

I went to open my mouth to speak, but no sounds came out. My face didn’t even move. Then I tried to move my limbs, but my en­tire body had be­come com­pletely rigid. Fear started to set in. ‘Hello!’ I screamed from in­side my life­less body.

When John ar­rived, I could hear the doc­tors talking to him.

‘Dur­ing the shock to Jenny’s heart she suf­fered a lack of oxy­gen on the brain,’ the doc­tor said, gravely.

‘She is still with us, but we are keep­ing her alive on the ven­ti­la­tor.’ He went on to say that my whole ner­vous sys­tem had ex­pired and that I wasn’t even re­spond­ing to ba­sic re­flex tests they had done. Even my eyes were fixed and di­lated.

I couldn’t see John’s face, but he sounded dev­as­tated. ‘I’m still here,’ I willed. I knew I was locked in my own body and all I could do was lis­ten to the gen­eral chit chat of the ward.

But by far the worst conversation I heard was the one be­tween John and one of my con­sul­tants. I heard the doc­tor say that they were un­sure if my men­tal abil­ity had been im­paired in any way when I was starved of oxy­gen a few weeks ear­lier. ‘What are your wishes on her con­tin­u­ing to be kept alive on the ven­ti­la­tor?’ he asked John. My stom­ach lurched and I started to panic as I soon re­mem­bered a conversation John and I had some years be­fore. ‘If ever I was in that sit­u­a­tion - I’d want you to just switch me off, John,’ I told him. He had agreed. It was blunt but

true. I didn’t ever want to be a bur­den on any­one. Now were those words coming back to haunt me? ‘I think we should give her some more time,’ John said. I men­tally breathed a huge sigh of re­lief. ‘Thank you John!’ I cried out in my head. A few days later, I was wheeled to theatre for a tra­cheotomy which would re­move the tube from my throat. Ten days later I opened my eyes to find my­self in a soli­tary room with my breath­ing eas­ier, but still un­able to move. A doc­tor could see I was try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate. He ex­plained that I had de­vel­oped some­thing called

I could hear every­thing but couldn’t move

I willed my hus­band to go against my wishes

Guil­lain-barré syn­drome. It was a rare con­di­tion where the ner­vous sys­tem is at­tacked by the im­mune sys­tem, of­ten caused by a vi­ral or bac­te­rial in­fec­tion. ‘You’ve been very lucky,’ he said. All I could do was click my tongue in re­sponse.

But de­spite know­ing it was go­ing to be a long road to re­cov­ery, some­thing was telling me that it was all go­ing to be OK.

While I was awake but un­able to move, I had to come up with var­i­ous ways to pass the time and stop my­self from go­ing mad. In my head I sang and did maths puz­zles.

Grad­u­ally, as the days passed by, my body be­came less numb. I could feel the cot­ton cush­ions I was sleep­ing on and the nurses’ hands when they rolled me over.

But I was in con­stant pain. Be­ing washed with a flan­nel felt like be­ing scrubbed with sand­pa­per.

To help com­mu­ni­cate, I was given a spe­cial spell­ing sheet where they would slowly point to each let­ter of a word and I’d click my tongue.

It was a long and ar­du­ous process, but see­ing my close friends and fam­ily when they came to visit was al­ways the high­light of my day.

The per­son I missed the most was my son David.

It had now been over a month since I last saw him and I’d missed his fifth birth­day.

But John and I had de­cided that the ma­chines and wires would be too scary for him. While I was stuck in hos­pi­tal, John acted like a sin­gle par­ent. He be­came re­spon­si­ble for it all - the shop­ping, cook­ing, clean­ing, and tak­ing care of David of course.

I was so grate­ful to him for every­thing.

One day I plucked up the courage to ask a nurse if I’d ever be able to walk again.

She said they were hope­ful that in time I would - so I tried my best to stay pos­i­tive.

Once I started to get my voice back, John sug­gested bring­ing in David to see me. I was so wor­ried about how he would re­act, but David was thrilled to see me. And I was so thrilled to see him. ‘David, do you know why Mummy is in hos­pi­tal?’ I asked him. ‘You’re not well,’ he replied, bravely. ‘My legs and arms don’t work but when I get home, I’ll be as good as new,’ I re­as­sured him. When it was time to leave, he blew me a kiss in­stead of hug­ging me as it would have been painful. See­ing David was all the mo­ti­va­tion I needed. ‘I have to get bet­ter now, for David’s sake,’ I told my­self. As the weeks passed by I con­tin­ued to make slow progress. The feed­ing tube was even­tu­ally re­moved and I started speech and lan­guage ther­apy. Learn­ing to walk again was the hard­est part, but, with John’s help, I bat­tled on and even­tu­ally my ef­forts paid off and I was fi­nally al­lowed out of the hos­pi­tal. Be­ing back with John and David was amaz­ing. I even chal­lenged my­self to a 5k char­ity race which I com­pleted walking, de­spite all the pain. ‘I’m so proud of you!’ John beamed. I wouldn’t be here to­day if it wasn’t for his pa­tience and his love. He might have gone against my wishes, but I’m so very glad he did!

Jenny Bone, 38, Leighton Buz­zard I had so much to live for

The 5k walk was a chal­lenge

Noth­ing will stop my re­cov­ery

Some­thing told me I could get through it

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