We didn’t know if our Andy would live.. he was in a coma, no spark in his eyes. But then he saw the baby scan and it was like he re­ally un­der­stood


Sunday Mail (UK) - - News - Jenny Mor­ri­son

As he lay in a coma, Cheryl Main­land stayed by her boyfriend’s bed­side, telling him over and over again about the baby grow­ing inside her.

Hit by a car just four days af­ter find­ing out he was go­ing to be a dad, Andy Irvine’s life hung in the bal­ance.

But Cheryl re­fused to give up, talk­ing to him about ev­ery stage of the preg­nancy un­til he started to re­gain con­scious­ness.

Against the odds, Andy pulled through and to­day has a unique bond with his son Miller, who helped save his life.

Cheryl said: “Andy was in a coma for three weeks. For the first week both his mum and I slept in the wait­ing room be­cause we couldn’t bear to be away from him.

“I would sit be­side him and talk to him about the baby we were hav­ing – will­ing him to wake up.

“At first we didn’t know if Andy would sur­vive. Then, when he started to come round, we didn’t know if he’d ever be able to walk or talk, feed or dress him­self.”

Andy, 37, was struck by a car while walk­ing home from a night out with friends in Aberdeen.

He suf­fered a bro­ken pelvis, bro­ken ribs, bruised lungs and a se­vere leg in­jury. His most se­ri­ous in­jury was swelling and bleed­ing on his brain.

As he came out of the coma, Cheryl was due her 12-week scan and de­cided Andy had to be there.

Cheryl, 36, said: “When Andy and I dis­cov­ered I was preg­nant, we were very ex­cited. But just four days later our lives were turned up­side down.

“It wasn’t like in f ilms – he didn’t sud­denly open his eyes and ask what he was do­ing there. His brain still wasn’t work­ing the way it should – there was no spark in his eyes.

“But it meant the speech ther­a­pists and phys­ios could come in and start do­ing their work to try to bring him back.”

Cheryl says over the next two months Andy’s brain star ted to slowly “re­pro­gramme”.

One of the big­gest leaps for­ward came when nurses helped or­gan­ise for him to go with Cheryl to the ma­ter­nity unit for her first baby scan. Cheryl said: “It would have been an emo­tional day any­way but to have Andy there was won­der­ful.

“He doesn’t re­mem­ber any­thing y g

about it but he held my hand and was tr trans­fixed by the screen with our baby’s im im­age on it.

“It was as if he re­ally un­der­stood w what he was see­ing.”

Andy con­tin­ued to im­prove and was m moved to a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion unit where C Cheryl says he ap­peared to “awaken”.

He worked to re­gain skills, in­clud­ing e ev­ery­thing from learn­ing to speak a again to be­ing able to walk up stairs.

He was finally al­lowed home from h hos­pi­tal in June 2016 – just six weeks b be­fore baby Miller was due.

Shop­ping cen­tre op­er­a­tions man­ager C Cheryl, who be­came a carer while b be­com­ing a first-time mum, said: “It w was im­por­tant to get Andy set­tled into h home life be­fore Miller ar­rived.

“In the end, Miller was two weeks la late and I knew I wanted Andy to be at m my side when he was born.

“Andy still needed a lot of sup­port b but he was there hold­ing my hand and d do­ing ev­ery­thing he needed to do. “It was per­fect.” Cheryl says the ex­tent of brain in­jury Andy suf­fered means he will never be the per­son he was be­fore his ac­ci­dent.

But she says Miller, now 20 months, is the per­fect aid to Andy’s re­cov­ery.

She said: “Andy has worked so hard to find a way to over­come any prob­lem.

“At first he was ner­vous about hold­ing Miller as he didn’t have a lot of strength in his left arm but he did ev­ery­thing he could to build its strength up.

“Now Andy is Miller’s favourite buddy to play with, read books with or do any­thing with. They have a very spe­cial bond.

“Miller has been our lit­tle bea­con of light. He has given us both hope and de­ter­mi­na­tion – and pulled not just Andy but both of us through.”

Al­most 1000 peo­ple ev­ery day are ad­mit­ted to UK hos­pi­tals as a re­sult of suf­fer­ing an ac­quired brain in­jury, in­clud­ing strokes.

Cheryl and Andy are sup­port­ing brain in­jury char­ity Head­way’s Right First Time cam­paign, which is call­ing on the Gov­ern­ment to make changes to dis­abil­ity benefits assess­ments they say fail a large num­ber of brain in­jury sur­vivors and their fam­i­lies.

Re­turn­ing to work was deeply im­por tant to Andy, a con­tract en­gi­neer, whose em­ploy­ers backed him with a phased re­turn into a new ad­min­is­tra­tive role.

But Cher yl says a “lack of un­der­stand­ing” of head in­juries by the Depart­ment for Work and Pen­sions left them with­out any em­ploy­ment sup­port al­lowance be­fore Andy was ready to take up the post.

Cheryl, who re­turned to work from ma­ter­nity leave ear­lier than planned, said: “Andy wasn’t ready to prop­erly re­turn to his work but the DWP said he was ca­pa­ble of get­ting an­other job in­stead. We didn’t know what to do.

“Did we turn around to Andy’s sup­port­ive em­ploy­ers and tell them he was hand­ing in his no­tice to look for an­other job?

“The best thing was for Andy to go back to work with fami liar col­leagues and fa­mil­iar sur­round­ings – rather than start­ing a job in a new com­pany where he would need to learn new skills.

“Dur­ing the face-to-face assess­ment, Andy was asked to fold a piece of pa­per in half and stand on one leg. These were not suit­able tests and showed a lack of un­der­stand­ing about the com­plex na­ture of brain in­jury.

“We were asked whether Andy can cook a meal. Yes he can. But he might leave the gas on. Peo­ple with brain in­juries have good days and bad days, good mo­ment s and bad mo­ments.

“You’ve got no idea how the brain in­jury wi l l af­fect them from one day to the next and it’s very dif­fi­cult to con­vey that through the assess­ment process.

“Miller has been our light through some dark times. He makes us laugh – and he gives us the strength and de­ter­mi­na­tion to fig­ure things out.”

LIT­TLE TREA­SURE Andy has formed a close bond with Miller PRIDE AND JOY Andy with new­born Miller

FAMILY GUY Dot­ing dad Andy and wife Cheryl with their baby boy Miller TOUCH AND GO Andy in coma in hos­pi­tal

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