At death’s door – three months later I was a model!
I’d convinced myself that my life was over
Debbie Greener, 48, Peterlee, County Durham
We’d started with a stack of planks and some instructions that may as well have been written in Chinese.
Now, a few hours later, I was looking at my magnificent new bed.
‘We deserve a brew,’ I groaned to my then-partner, Andrew, 50.
It was February 2011 and we’d been building the flatpack all morning.
‘Thanks for helping,’ I told Andrew.
Only, as I got up, I heard a loud pop inside my head, followed by an intense pain. What on Earth..? Has the flatpack broken my brain?!
As I looked at Andrew, I could see his lips moving and hear sounds coming out of his mouth, but none of it seemed to make sense.
It was like watching a badly dubbed movie.
I don’t remember the journey to Hartlepool hospital, but Andrew must’ve dialled 999. By the time I’d arrived, the left side of my face had drooped.
An emergency brain scan confirmed I’d suffered a brain haemorrhage, caused by an aneurysm
– a bulging in one of the blood vessels in my brain.
I was bluelighted to James Cook University, into surgery to close off the aneurysm, and when I woke up 48 hours later, I saw my son Harry, then 10, and Andrew.
‘We didn’t know if you were going to make it, Mum,’ Harry cried.
I felt awful for putting him through such a trauma. He’d been born blind – and, as a single mum, I was his sole carer.
My left side was paralysed because of the stroke. My brain had suffered damage.
I was left with epilepsy, my memory was impaired, and I’d lost the peripheral vision on my left side.
I was finally discharged three months later, and worked hard on my rehab.
But my life had changed drastically.
I took long-term sick leave from work in order to get better. And, with physio, I began regaining movement.
But the damage to my brain left me frustrated.
I’d forget simple things – what day it was, plans I’d made just hours earlier.
Sadly, me and Andrew split in May 2012, then
I was made redundant. I’ve been through worse than this, I thought. I started a college course, studying Psychology, and continued with my physio. I got a guide dog in 2014 and tried my best to claw back my independence.
I met a new partner, Michael, in June 2017, and started to feel like me again.
Then, in July 2018, I woke up in the middle of the night, vomiting violently. Moments later, I started seizing, brought on by my epilepsy.
Luckily, Harry, 17, was asleep when Michael called the ambulance, and I was rushed to hospital.
Doctors put a tube in my throat to help me breathe.
Once again, Harry was called to my bedside, told I might not make it. Again, I survived.
Yet when I eventually felt well enough to sit up in bed, I felt that same despair I’d had all those years ago.
Could I fight back again?
You should SEE ME NOW
I was paralysed, braindamaged, frustrated
After my seizure in July 2018