Kate Allatt: "She'd be better off dead"
On 6th February 2010 I was fell running, with a headache which I ignored, while I was a busy mum to India (10) Harvey (8) and Woody (5) and wife to Mark and worked full time. Like most working mums my life was extremely hectic. At midday the next day, I was actually misdiagnosed with a stress induced migraine by a junior doctor at A & E in the Northern General Hospital Sheffield.
Five hours after being discharged from hospital with some co-codamal and orders to rest for my ‘stress-induced-headache’ I suffered a catastrophic brainstem stroke; a dissection, occlusion and infarction of the right Pons at 18.09 on my lounge floor which was half an hour from the hospital I’d presented at earlier that day. Three days were spent in a coma – my life missed three days – no ethereal dreams just nothingness. When I woke up it was like waking up inside my own coffin or being buried alive – your worst nightmare.
On the fourth day for two weeks after my injury I was considered vegetative by nursing and other clinical staff, even though I was always aware of my self and environment, ie. unconscious, unable to give any communication signal. My husband Mark was told by the ICU Doctor in the early days: ‘She’d be better off dead’. I was on a life support machine because I couldn’t breathe alone.
However, my friends knew I was inside. If my head was pointing to the door as they visited I wept silent tears (maybe relief, maybe emotional lability, but that was a defining moment for me). On their own back, they established a communication signal with me with a rudimentary communication board they themselves had designed. I was told to try one slight blink for ‘no’ and two blinks for ‘yes’, while one friend pointed to letters and one friend wrote the letter down that I blinked. The first word I spelt out after two mute but fully cognitive weeks was ‘SLEEP’. It was euphoric, a moment where I was released, un-trapped, and one I will never ever forget.
The story continues on Kate’s blog.