Jane Peryer: From One Disaster to the Next

Jane Peryer’s story is a story of loss. Injury and illness on top of depression and anxiety has led to the loss of mobility, freedom and companionship. Writing her story is, we hope, a step towards Jane recovering and rebuilding her life.

Jane and her dog

I was until recently living in the Scottish Borders but events have led me back to Sheffield.

I had a lovely cottage and a wonderful dog called Domino who was a boxer. I suffer from severe depression and anxiety disorder and have been ill for a very long time.

I had a mouse problem so decided to get a cat from the animal rescue. A lovely young cat called Humphrey came to live with Dom and I. Dom and Humpy became best friends almost instantly.

One day I was out in the garden playing with Dom and I turned round and Humpy was under my feet. To avoid standing on him I took a large step over him and before I could stop myself I fell head first over a six foot wall. My head hit the end of a very sharp metal leg of a saw stool and then I landed on the concrete it was standing on. I managed to get back inside the house and call for an ambulance. My head was split right open and I had no idea what had happened as I was concussed. I was told they might have to operate on my head but seventeen hours later they decided against it and I was sent to a ward. I knew I was lucky to be alive.

Some months later something terrible happened at home. I woke up on the floor with the stool lying beside me. I guessed I had had a seizure and told my brother. He came up to visit and took me to see my GP the following week but I never got there because I had a second seizure on Hawick high street just round the corner from the surgery. This time I went to hospital and a neurologist diagnosed me with epilepsy and put me on some medication. I spent three more days in hospital and had to hand my driving licence back. There was no public transport where I lived so I knew it would make me very isolated.

Then my father died and then Dom died and I got Nutmeg who was a boxer puppy. Then sometime last December I had a massive brain haemorrhage and I’m only alive today because my neighbours from across the road came over one day and came in through the back door to see if I was alright. I don’t remember anything. I was taken by ambulance to the Borders General. But the bleed was serious and so they transferred me to Edinburgh and told my brother they weren’t sure I would survive. In the end they didn’t need to operate. I was transferred back to the Borders a couple of weeks later which is where my memory of it begins.

I was admitted to the stroke ward and couldn’t move my left leg or arm so had to be hoisted. Physio and occupational therapy began, and a few weeks later they sent me to a cottage hospital in Hawick because the stroke ward was being turned in to a covid ward. I spent a long time there gradually making improvements and I started to be able to walk with a zimmer frame and an orthotic on my ankle/foot. My arm progressed faster than my leg and I have regained some use it in.

I knew I couldn’t stay living at my cottage. Nutmeg had been re-homed so I decided to move back to Sheffield where I was living 23 years ago before going to Scotland.

My brother managed to arrange some rehabilitation for me at STEPS for a few weeks. From there I moved to Broomgrove Nursing Home which is where I still am. I don’t remember the beginning of covid and was unable to have visitors in hospital because of it. Worse still the psychiatric team abandoned me completely despite having supported me for years. Covid meant they weren’t seeing people anymore. It was a horrible time, the worst time of my life by far. I will be moving in to a flat soon as a temporary measure and then in September I will move to lower Walkley where I have lived before. I will have good friends nearby and I’m glad to be back in Sheffield.

Sometimes my future looks bleak. How can I look after my mental health without a dog and the ability to go for long walks? I need a dog and Humphrey is staying in Scotland because he’s a rural cat. My life has changed for ever and will never go back to the way it was. I try to stay positive but it’s hard. I don’t think my cat had 9 lives but perhaps I do?

Sometimes I feel lucky to be alive and sometimes I feel unlucky to still be alive. Covid has passed me by. I’ve hardly noticed it was happening because I’ve been in permanent lockdown since the stroke anyway.

I would have loved to be able to get involved with the Sheffield football team but I can’t do that with such poor mobility. I will find things I can do I’m sure but right now everything seems scary.

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