Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Basil Ganglia Nucleus

Waking up with stinging eyes, and sore sinuses, the ward was a busier place than it had been the last two days. There was a buzz around the nurses station as Monday morning loomed over Ward E1. The florescent light seemed even harsher this morning, and it bullied my eyes in to a squint, as I watched a nurse come bustling in to my room dragging along with her that oh so familiar machine. Knowing the routine I had my arm held out ready and waiting for the cuff to be wrapped around it, and I dropped my head to the side, allowing the thermometer access to my ear. She seemed satisfied with the results and left me to my thoughts. 
I shut my eyes, and listened as the nurses gathered for their morning update. If I'm honest, I enjoyed this start to my day. It was interesting hearing the goings on of the ward; what patients were staying, what patients were going. I heard information on any night time disruptions, and whether there'd be any newly admitted patients that coming day. Although I was comfortably safe and very happy in my little cocoon of a side room, it felt good to hear what was going on else where, I didn't feel so ostracised, and out of the loop... I sort of felt part of the Ward E1 'gang' hearing about the other patients.  
After having the previous week off, Dad had to go back in to work that Monday, and I also forced Chris to go and do a couple of hours in uni. He had his January exams ahead of him, and with it being the last year of his degree course it was vital that he didn't miss any more lectures. Both Dad and Chris promised me that they'd be at the hospital as soon as they were finished, and I was happy for them to be getting on with things as normal, though I felt sorry for the forthcoming questions I was certain they'd be bombarded with.
So it was just Mum and Anna who appeared from around the nurses station at 9 o'clock that morning. As usual I had already had my brown bread roll with jam and butter, and apple juice for breakfast, and I had Lorraine Kelly's smiley face staring at through the small television screen. Mum helped me out of bed, and collected my wash bag, and we made our way slowly to the bathroom. Meanwhile Anna plonked her self on the big comfy chair, with her college art book laid out in front of her, but with no intention or purpose to use it. 
Mum sat on the lid of the toilet seat and chatted to me about the events of the day before, as I sat in the shower chair letting the warm water stream over my head, muling over what she was saying. As was now usual, she washed my hair for me, and scrubbed my back, and then when I was washed from head to toe, she cuddled me in to a hospital towel. 
Her hugs had so much meaning in them, and I understood and welcomed them gratefully. I needed my Mum more than I had ever needed her. The unnerved and frightened feeling I had adopted yesterday, when I was told I might have to be moved on to a ward, still hadn't quite left me. What if they had moved me? Mum wouldn't be here with me now. She wouldn't be the one washing my hair and helping me in to my bra and knickers... It would have been a stranger. I needed the woman who brought me in to this world, the woman who raised me and who was part of the partnership that made me into who I am. I just really, really needed my Mum. 
As she wrapped me in that towel, her hug told me that she understood, and I knew then, that she wouldn't have had any body else doing the job she was doing. 

Dry and clean, with my hair knotted in to a plait, we re-entered my little room to find Anna scrambling to look like she was attempting to do some college work. Mum laughed and rolled her eyes, as Anna gave her a cheeky look. The time will have been about 10.00am, no sooner as I had sat on my bed I was forced to look up as there was a knock on the door. My consultant who I was now familiar with was standing thee with two registrars and the ward sister. The four of them entered the room, and greeted my Mum and Sister as they did so. 
The consultant tiptoed around the subject of asking whether my sister would mind leaving the room while he spoke to my Mum and I, (he's a very polite, and kind man) and Anna, though with a subtle eye roll, headed off to the day room, dragging along with her, her art book and pencils.
The consultant began by asking me about myself, about my life style and about the events in my life leading up to Tuesday 18th October. I was confused as these were already questions I'd been asked multiple times, but I obliged, and ran through everything he'd already heard. He then went on to ask my Mum about our family history, heart disease, heart attacks...strokes? Mum reeled off the people in my Dads family who had suffered heart attacks, and were plagued with high blood pressure, many of whom were heavy smokers. She  then went on to tell the consultant that my Grandad, my Mum's Dad, had inhabited this same room, only 2 weeks before I was admitted, due to suffering a very mild stroke. The difference between me, and my Grandad... he's 83, I'm 21.
With a grave expression manipulating his face, the consultants voice softened as he said, 'I'm asking you these questions again, as we have received the MRI scan results and they also confirm that you have had a stroke, in the right part of your brain, in the 'basil ganglia nucleus.'' I stared at him as he went on to say, 'We still don't know why this has happened, so I am going to run another series of blood tests to try and find an explanation. I am also going to book you in for a doppler scan of the neck and leg.' As he reeled off a list of the blood tests he wanted doing, some apparently were repeats of what I'd already had, I watched as his registrars took notes at a rapid pace, not stopping to look up, and their pens never leaving the paper.
I looked at my Mum, and tears filled my eyes and spilled over on to my cheeks. Why was I crying? He was only confirming what we already knew... I think a part of me had hoped that the MRI scan would maybe come back with another explanation as to why I no longer worked properly, but not so deep down, I knew I was being silly. I think the fresh tears were acknowledgement of what reality I was living... I had to accept this now. 
As the consultant finalised the details of what he wanted doing with the registrars, he focused on me, and my tears. He walked closer to me and put his hand on mine, and didn't question why I was crying. I attempted a laugh and apologised to him, explaining my hope for a different outcome of results. He smiled back in sympathy, and told me the words I have now, nearly nine months on become so used to hearing, 'You have age on your side.'
The four people stood before me, concluding their notes, and discussing the next steps, and with a kind smiles, and gentle shakes of the hand, Mum and I waved them off on their ward rounds.
Mum kissed me on the cheek, squeezed my hand, and confided that a part of her had been hoping for a different answer too.  

Anna trundled in with her book and pencils, and slumped into a chair, her eyes raised at Mum, ready for a confrontation about how much work she had achieved, in her time away from us. My Mum and Sister began in their little sparring match of words, acting out their age old argument about homework, Mum giving Anna her death stare, Anna taking no notice whatsoever. 
Watching the two most important women in my life acting just as they would at home, made me laugh out loud. Disregarding the meeting I had just had with my consultant, I allowed myself to be immersed in their normality, if that's what you can call it, and strangely...I felt normal too. 


  1. I have read all your blog and look forward to reading more. At 21 I became physically dependant on my husband & family after bein diagnosed with severe Fibromyalgia Syndrome and Migraine. I spent a month at Bath Rheumatology Hospital undergoing intensive rehab. I understand the emotional and physical difficulties you are facing. I am now 34 & although I still have the condition I have learned to deal with it day-by-day. But recently I suffered a mini-stroke and have to return to have an MRI. I have small vessel disease which is am explanation as so why I have had this happen. It is inherited. But with blogs like yours it is gr8 to know that I am not the only one and you are lucky to have such wonderful support. Keep up all the hard work and I look forward to reading more of your progress. Blessed Be Leanne Witchy-poo

  2. Nice blog. Very moving. Get well soon. I did :-)

  3. The day before my wedding before my dbl lung transplant, Iwas in HDU and very sick, my mum bathed me and washed my hair, dryed me and hugged me. Then after my tx wehn i was unable to even lift my hand, the nurses had to bed bath me but i always insisted that my mum stay. There was something more dignafing being able to have your mum hold your hand when there isn't much dignity left. As soon as I could stand the nurses were dismissed and my mum and husband began to help me do things, like get to the commod. Your journey is so well written, I can't wait to carry on reading. x

  4. I had a stroke too. It was last September at the age of 21. So much of your story is exactly what I went through. We are the lucky ones.

    Hang in there,


  5. Well I saw that Kris Jenner retweeted u on twitter and I thought that I'd read ur story and blogs. I want to say that I loved all of them and look forward to more! Thanks for sharing! P.s. I'm going to follow u on twitter

  6. I've read through your blog and was deeply moved and found it fascinating that the we've shared similar experiences from across the ocean. At the age of 22 I suffered a pulmonary embolism (like a stroke for your lungs) and am proud to consider myself among the living - a "lucky girl" like yourself. My parents were also in-disposable and deeply comforting during this time for me, so it was fascinating to read about your experiences and how they were similar to ones I had (though, fortunately in my case, less severe). I guess sometimes it's nice to know I'm not alone?

    My deepest condolences for what you've been going through and you will be in my prayers. Thank you for sharing your experiences, and I hope that you continue to keep a positive outlook on this tragic circumstance!