Monday, 27 February 2017

It's just flu..... - part II


The acute stage was over with the discharge from ITU after about 3 weeks. The staff on ITU where just fantastic, truly. Not so on the general wards..... The first night Tracey's plea for being made comfortable was greeted with "You're not on ITU now you know", putting a buzzer on the side of the bed and walking off......... I was horrified when I came in the next day. I made my mind to do all of Tracey's personal care myself. The ward sister didn't like, but I asked her to take responsibility to wash her and feed her at an appropriate time and with respect, dignity and patience, 100% of the time. She couldn't, I did.

Tracey was suffering from critical care paralysis, from prolonged muscle relaxant use, it took months to recover. She wasn't able to feed herself, wash herself. Total paralysis from the neck down.

I remember at one point, on the ward, watching her this the physio, so small and vulnerable, that the fight had gone out of her. I needed to encourage her. Tracey remembers this moment, she recognised it at the same time. She realised that it was going to be really hard and she didn't know if she was capable. The care, or lack of care, she recieved was, in part, the reason that spurred her on. Doing the the stairs with the physio reached an almost mythical status, retrieving the golden fleece or cleaning the Augean stables.  She came home with a zimmer frame and a couple of alterations to our house.

She was, and 5 years on, no ill effects, morbidity or disablity what so ever.

I met some awesome practitioners, the compassion and empathy to really make a difference to people's live and their recovery. And some others that need to reflect on their career choice. I was never aggressive or rude, but always honest and articulate, Tracey's advocate. Tracey's fierce advocate.

This was my training ground for want was to come......

Sunday, 26 February 2017

It's just flu.... - part I

Roughly 5 years ago I took my wife, Tracey, to the GP. Tracey had a few days of flu-like symptoms, I knew that she wasn't right. Following a visit to the drop-in centre and a early morning ambulance visit, clinically she was fairly ok..... I knew later that she was compensating.....

The GP took one look at her and requested a blue-light ambulance. In ITU (via resus) I said my good-byes, we'll see each other in a couple days, we said. I was relatively calm at this point, the lungs needed a rest for 2 or 3 days. I was calm, the ITU staff were calm.

I got home, literally got home and my mobile rang. It was the ITU nurse, "I know that you've got home, but you need to get back to the hospital. And you need to bring your daughters.....". I knew the code.

I sat in one of the relatives rooms with our daughters, waiting for the ITU consultant. After a while, he arrived with one of his registrars in tow. "We are doing everything we can, but we don't expect her to survive the night".

The next days a bit of a blur..... I remember taking our daughters in to see her, intubated and ventilated, and they burst into tears and they didn't want to stay. We got home and they went to their rooms. I realised that I needed to talk to somebody, but I didn't need to cope with somebody elses emotion...... Steve, the very person. He knows what emotions are, but he doesn't let them get it the way. The conversation went something like this.....

"Steve, it's Matt, shut up and listen. Tracey's in hospital, ventilated on ITU."
"Want do you need?"
"Nothing at the moment, I just needed to tell someone"
"Ok, let me know if you need anything"
"Cheers, bye"
"Bye"

I then went back to the hospital, on my own. Tracey was in multi-organ failure, for some reason, her body was compensating, but it isn't anymore..... Her ventilator pressures were high, she couldn't maintain her blood pressure, she needed dialysis etc

That evening was New Years Eve, the most surreal New Years Eve ever, me and our daughters watched the fireworks on the telly, in the back of my mind waiting for the phone call.

I didn't sleep much, I went into the hospital, the consultant said that she's survived the night, but we don't expect her to survive very long.

The next 10 days went from death being a certainty, to an possibility, to a life of severe disability. Day 10 was the day when Tracey was trialled without her ventilator. I wanted her to not cope, I wanted my memories of her to be happy memories, not sad, painful and frustrating. I didn't want to look forward to the rest of our lives together as anything less than happy and wonderful.... but I knew that surviving a physical insult this big won't be a walk in the park.

Part 2 is coming......


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Well formed outcomes

I've been using the Well Formed Outcomes tool of setting goals at work, personally and with staff, for a number of years now. It's been more pertinent now, with my recent predicament.

In short:-

1. State your goal in positive terms.
- What do I want?

2. Self-initiate and maintain your goal.
- Am I doing this for myself or someone else?
- Does my goal depend solely on me?

3. Ensure your goal is appropriately contextualised.
- Where, when, how, and with whom do I want it?

4. Describe the evidence that will emerge from the procedure.
- What will I be doing to get my goal?
- How will I know I’m achieving it?
- What will I see, hear, and feel when I have it?

5. Identify the resources you need.
- What resources do I have now?
- What resources do I need to acquire?
- Have I got evidence of achieving my goal before?
- What happens if I act ‘as if’ I already have it?

6. Check that your goal is ecological.
- What is the real purpose behind why I want this goal?
- What will I lose or gain if I have it?
- What will and won’t happen if I get it?
- What will and won’t happen if I don’t get it?

7. Describe the first step.


I've found it a powerful tool in terms of a holistic approach to goal setting. It takes a while to get your head around it.

I'm currently using it to work out what I want at the moment.

On the way in to work this morning, I listened to New Model Army's Green & Grey, I've just realised that it has metaphorical element...... pertaining to the problem that I am wrestling with.....

Thursday, 16 February 2017

My productive week!

I'd planned a work trip on Monday this week, up the M1 to Leeds, about an hour and a half. I haven't done any motorway driving since the stroke, a little bit nervous. On top of that, the meeting was with people who I haven't met before, on an exploratory subject..... a recipe for disaster......

Since the stroke I like routine, excepted outcomes, I like knowing where I'm going, physically and mentally. I like familiarity.

I was armed with my trusty SLK, my phone (Google maps and Spotify), an agenda (in my head) and faith in myself!!

My meeting was at 11am, I left at 9am to give myself plenty of time (if your always early, your never late..... ). The meeting was good, I got what I wanting.

Now, I don't know whether to say that I've had a stroke, or not. People say that my speech is fine, but I don't feel that it is. In my head I feel that I sound drunk or a bit slow. On this occasion, I went with the open disclosure. And it was ok. I think that I'm going to dive in to any conversations and see want happens from now on......

This has had a massive positive impact of my confidence. My week has been great!!!!

On Saturday I had first sparring session since the stroke. Gentle contact, but my confidence increased during the session. My word, my fitness is down in my boots. I was gassed!!!

On Tuesday, Tracey gave me my Valentine's card. She's been looking forward to giving it to me all week.......


I love my wife.....

See you soon blog fans......