Saturday, 30 April 2011

30th April 2011

Well, after a brilliant weekend, there had to be a fall, and it came from the hospital food police!!. This blog is read by one of Steven’s doctors, and she took exception to him having steak, and orange drinks. The result was notices placed around the hospital, warning patients and their carers of the dangers of choking amongst brain damaged people. Unbeknown to us, other people here are using the hospital microwaves to prepare food owing to the apparent displeasure of the hospital food. Presumably my blog and Steven’s honesty brought the issue out into the open. We were of course spoken to by the doctor, and although she had a most valid point, she failed to understand that the food we’ve been giving Steven is of the same consistency as hospital food, and in many cases an improvement. For example, at least the steak was fresh, and medium rare, and cut to small portions, a big difference to hospital fish steak with all manner of miniscule bones, but very similar to a hospital beefburger. We listened to the doctor, and will continue to allow Steven to have hospital type food on outside visits, and hopefully she will have confidence in us to look after Steven, as we have much confidence in her staff here. When I compare previous postings with recent ones, it’s plainly obvious that whatever the staff here are doing, it’s working in every respect. They have been nothing short of remarkable. Steven’s biggest problem now is his mental state, which can only be controlled by medicines, and encouragement from staff, us, and his many supporters. Steven is not experiencing as much pain as he has had in the past, from his left arm, and left leg. He can now raise his left arm over his head, and he has real strength in his left hand grip. There is small movement in his left ankle, but he still has a lot of pain in his left foot. He has continued to make progress walking, with assistance.
Steven very depressed Friday night and Saturday morning, caused apparently by us looking after him. This makes him so upset, full-on crying, and saying it’s all his fault. Saturday morning it continued, to the point that for the first time for a long time, he wished that there had been a different, but final, outcome to the accident, and that he’d had enough. Pauline and I tried to concentrate his mind to his previous successful efforts at walking, and other improvements, but that didn’t work. Saturday he was upset that I was shaving him, and he felt useless at not being able to do it himself. Again we tried to tell him that this will happen in time, but he wants to be better now, so that we can all get our lives back. He feels upset at us doing everything for him, everything is his fault. Of course it isn’t his fault, it’s the fault of the low-life that did this, and even a nurse couldn’t persuade him to think different. We were within seconds of giving him a tranquiliser when he finally calmed down. This was a marked difference to last weekend.
Good and bad yet again!!
Best regards Terry

Sunday, 24 April 2011

24th April 2011

Well what a difference a few days makes. Whether it’s the change of medicines, I don’t suppose we’ll ever know, but the last few days have seen a wonderful change in Steven’s attitude. He no longer appears depressed. He’s full of life, and looking forward to getting better. Due to earlier progress, and Steven’s positive attitude to his exercises, we’d always been fairly confident of a good recovery, but the last couple of weeks were a massive step backward, where Steven, though not giving up, was getting really annoyed at his apparent lack of progress, and just being fed up. He wouldn’t listen to us when we told him the progress he had made. We’ve never told him how ill he had been, only that a few weeks earlier he couldn’t do the things he was doing now, and that was progress. His numerous ‘phone calls have been a great help, and the parcels with chocolate and cakes, (after testing by me!!!) were thoroughly enjoyed by Steven. There’s no doubt that when we leave here, his walls will need decorating to remove the selotape and glue holding the cards and letters to the wall. Easter week has been a little upsetting for Steven, due to his allegiance to the La Piedad Cofradia, a group of people carrying a large statue around the streets of Torrevieja. But due to the work of Barbara from Belgium, the Cofradia was contacted, and they pledged to lift the statue in Steven’s name, with the usual cry of “Viva”, this is a great honour. This pleased Steven immensely, but he still shed a tear watching the few processions not cancelled, on television. The weather here and all over Spain has been atrocious throughout Easter week, but the sun came out for Steven on Good Friday. Due to the physio’ staff having time off, and since Steven had practiced moving from chair to car, we made the most of it.
Friday we went to Cullera, a coastal town, with a long promenade with numerous cafes. The place was heaving with tourists, a complete change to previous week’s visits. Steven enjoyed seeing the beach and sea, and no doubt one or three girls to look at through the newly purchased mirrored sunglasses. We found a cafe for boquerones in garlic vinegar, with some fresh bread, washed down with an orange drink, not wishing to tempt fate just yet with a Jack Daniels, although he, Paul, and I have made a pact to have one or three of these when he’s better. The food was in complete contrast to the hospital food, and he demolished it with gusto. We had no problems at any stage moving between chair and car, and the whole morning was a complete success. Due to the massive amount of information received, he had an extra long siesta.
Saturday, St George’s Day, an appropriate day for Steven to wear his Union Jack shirt sent from Afghanistan by Paul, an ex-colleague of mine, out there with UK forces. We made the hour long journey to Javea, amongst heavy tourist traffic. This delayed us, and stopped us enjoying a full English, so we had to settle for steak, onion rings, and chips, and again with fresh orange. Steven attacked the meat with his knife and fork, all new experiences. Ice cream and chocolate cake followed. We were in the company of Paul and his new girlfriend Lisa, and her family including her Mum Sarah. The cafe overlooked the bay, packed with sun-worshippers. It was a gorgeous lunchtime, loads of chat, and brought Steven out of his shell a little. He said he didn’t feel like a lab-rat, and it brought normality to his life.
Sunday, another morning out, this time to a car-boot sale at Corbera, but we couldn’t even trade him in for a portion of snails, so we had to bring him back. We managed to avoid the rain, and we had a good walk round, as well as Steven enjoying a longed for “cafe con leche espuma”. Due to him over-indulging his breakfast of Weetabix we didn’t attempt the “churros”, but we’ll have a few of those another day.
His movements between chair and car are getting better with each journey, giving him and us more confidence, almost to the point of independence. We have to be careful of this, he did have one little wobble trying to get into the car by himself, so we have to rein him in. He is not fazed at all by the car, it’s speed, and oncoming traffic, though we haven’t been out at night yet, and he has pre-warned me that he is a bit nervous about this. So of course we’ll wait for that event, which may be soon, if his brother Paul decides to take him into nearby Tavernes for an evening drink and tapas.
It’s been a fabulous weekend, and as much as we continue to think and be positive, there’s always the feeling of when will there be another backward step. He’s entitled to them, as long as he/we continue to push forward, and we’ll do that with the help of all his supporters, thank you.
Best regards Terry

Thursday, 21 April 2011

21st April 2011

Hiya, Steven's dog "pongo" was a bit off colour recently, and we had to call out the vet'. The vet' came very quickly, and did a quick examination of him. She looked worried, so went to her car and brought in a Siamese cat. She put the Siamese onto "pongo" who was lying down, and allowed it to walk all over the dog. She picked up the Siamese, and said that "pongo" was fine. We were relieved, and asked for the bill, and she said 325euro. We said "How much?", she said 325euro, 25euro for the call out and 300euro for the cat scan. Come on, it ain't that bad. It certainly made Steven laugh. (To any Spanish people reading this, sorry, it won't translate very well!!) I'm not saying that was the start of his attitude change, but he has been better for a couple of days. Whether this is as a result of medicine change I don't know, but it's been good to have a smiley Steven back, let's hope he remains the same. Steven can now hold his hands together high above his head, a bit shaky with the strain and pain, but an improvement. He can use a knife and fork, and he can hold the handle of a plastic drinking mug. His movement between chair and bed is variable, mainly due to his left knee and ankle problems, but he does continue to try hard. We will continue to give him exercise to arms, legs, and voice, over the Easter weekend, due to a 5 day break from physio'. We also all hope to get away for a few hours if the weather would improve. Steven will enjoy seeing the sea, and have tapas and coffee. His voice is still monotone, and a little slow, but he no longer talks like a child. His intelligence is fine, in fact it seems to have improved due to the number of long words he's using.
Best regards Terry

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

19th April 2011

unfortunately Steven's depression continues. It's difficult to get at the true reason. He's not in as much pain, but, he could be hiding it, because he knows that we are looking after him and he has said he doesn't like bothering us, despite us telling him it's no problem. His medicines have been changed. He's also getting fed up of the hospital environment, same routine, same walls, same people, but until he's a little more mobile, there's little we can do about that. He does try really hard to move between bed and chair, but a combination of general weakness, probably pain, and being tired is stopping him doing this manouvre with confidence. We have moved him from chair to the front seat of the car, this will open up trips locally to the nearby beachside town of Cullera if he's in the mood to do so. I drove him around the hospital car park, and although slightly nervous, he was able to support himself in the car seat. We have been told that the feeding tube will soon be removed, when????, no idea!! His diet has been changed, and the food is quite good, no more thick soup, but chicken, ham and cheese, or fish, much better. Steven is watching the Semana Santa parades (Easter) on television. This upsets him a little, because for many years he has been part of the parades in Torrevieja. But thanks to Barbara (in Belgium!!!), Steven's Cofradia (statue carrying group) La Piedad, are at last aware of his accident and situation. We have been told that Steven will be honoured during the parade by a lifting of the statue in his name. Steven has received many letters and cards of support, thank you.
best regards

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

13th April 2011

Hiya,yet another mixed few days. The best news is that on Friday evening, he stood up from his wheelchair without any assistance. He stood erect, revealing his true height. This is a surprise to all who see him, especially Paul when Steven kisses the top of his head. He still needs assistance to shuffle between bed and chair, but he's getting stronger despite the obvious pain in his left leg. However the downside is that for some unknown reason Steven has become very depressed. He has every right to be depressed, but is finding fault with everything and everybody, and we just have to let him get it out of his system. The nurses tell us yet again, this is normal, but to us it's very sad to witness. Yet again he has another infection with his feeding tube, which we don't actually use. The doctors though are unmoved by our pleas to have it removed, despite all his food and "thick" water is taken by mouth as per their instructions. Perhaps this is why Steven is down, because he won't tell us, nor his favourite nurse. So, we just have to be patient.
Continuing from the above, a little bit of information has been discovered. Steven's depression may be being caused by me or us. For example, I think we are arguing too much about the treatment he is receiving. In other words, the nurses are sometimes late cleaning him, which makes him late for his very important physio'. We get agitated by this, Steven picks up on this, and he becomes really upset to the point of crying. Sometimes, if we don't do something, the way he wants it done, whether it's food, drink, or moving in bed, that upsets him. If we try to stop him being upset, it makes him worse, if we ignore him, we feel bad because he's so upset. Then we get upset and the cycle continues. We just can't win. Steven makes himself upset. It is my/our fault sometimes, when I/we may "tut", or grimace when we don't do exactly as he says, he notices that and gets upset. So we really do have to watch everything we say and do. He has stated that he doesn't know whether he can continue in this way, as he puts it, his head is like a glass that's nearly full and he can't take anymore. We have to remind him of how we almost lost him, and that he has improved immensely. We've spoken to the nurses and doctors, and yet again, they say this is normal, it's a phase, soon there'll be a different phase, I hope so.
Good news (I think!!) from a trauma doctor (not the same one as last week!!!). He said that the calcium in his bones/muscles can only be released by moving the muscles, this will create pain, but once gone he'll be okay. So, unfortunately for Steven, he will have to endure discomfort in left arm and leg for some time yet. Steven's left foot is giving concern. It seems that many nerves and muscles have been damaged preventing the outstep working properly. Continuing physio' may help. If this doesn't work, the doctors will consider taking a muscle from somewhere else and inserting it into the outstep. Paul and I have obviously offered muscle, but that's a long way off. The doctor considers it best to get Steven mobile, at the same time hope the foot improves. If they start to move muscles now by an invasive operation, that will stop his progress until the foot heals, and then they have to start all over again. To repeat what is repeated to us on an hourly basis, little by little, one day at a time, and have patience.
Parcels received from Maureen, Dek, Dawn, Mark, and Daniel, also from Jane and Paddy, and from Angelique. Steven has a few cakes to eat, and clothes to wear, He loved them, and cards are on the wall.
Special thank you to Barbara, an old friend of Steven, who, when she found out about Steven, she flew here from Belgium, bringing chocolates, photo's, and a fabulous pencil drawing. We never told Steven she was coming, and his face was a picture when he saw her collecting him from physio'. A very "chatty" evening. The following day (today Wed' 13th) unfortunately Steven was in a bad way, due to pain, and the medicines, but he recovered slightly by the afternoon. A big thank you to Barbara, but we still have to exhaustively test the chocolates before letting Steven have any;-)
Then to add to that, he had a 'phone call from his Aunty Linda, lovely. This all helps his recovery knowing that he has the support of people.
thanks to all

Thursday, 7 April 2011

7th April 2011

Tuesday evening was a bad time for us all. We were given disturbing and unnecessary information which was very worrying. The following day was a good day, when the information we'd received was explained properly. Tuesday evening, whilst Pauline was looking after Steven, they were seen by a trauma doctor. He told them that the problems with Steven's left leg were serious, and that his left foot may have to be amputated. This news was obviously upsetting for everyone. All manner of thoughts went through all our minds, especially for Steven, who said, how would he be able to play football with children. On Wednesday our thoughts were settled somewhat after talks with Steven's doctor and physio' team. The information given by the trauma doctor, though basically correct, was premature. Many other treatments would be attempted first, including physio' and the use of orthopaedic shoes. We have been told not to bother Steven with any controversial topics for fear of upsetting him, and the trauma doctor should not have said what he said at this stage, and Steven's team will have words with him.
As part of the continuing treatment, Steven had a further session of electrotherapy with the electric shocks being applied to a different part of his left leg, and this provoked a good response in his left foot. This is typical of the 2 steps forward 1 step backward routine we are constantlly enduring. Our morale is constantly changing from high to low and back again. We and Steven will continue to work towards a good recovery.
Also Wednesday, Steven was issued with a new lightweight wheelchair. What a difference that has made. Steven now has some small independance, but no doubt he will soon cause chaos in the hospital corridors. Also, he will get a lot of excercise from his fingers all the way through his upper body as he moves himself around with the large front wheels.
When feeding, Steven licked his lips. No big deal??, but I could remember when he couldn't move his tongue at all. I mentioned this to him, and he explained some of the excercises he does in physio'. As part of his treatment and speech therapy, a member of the physio' staff hold his tongue with a dry bandage and pull it out of his mouth as far as possible, and move it up and down, and from side to side, according to Steven, painful!! He also has the inside of his cheeks massaged, as well as his mouth opened and stretched very wide at the corners. We had no idea that this was happening.
best regards

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

5th April 2011

Yet another few days of mixed fortunes for Steven. Despite him attempting to walk with assistance, and “ride” a bicycle, he is still suffering severe pains in his left leg. We continued to inform the doctors of this, but they seem to think it’s just muscle pain from the exercises. Persistence paid off though and x-rays were taken. The result of this is that Steven has a build up of calcium behind the knee, no doubt caused by lack of proper use. The shin bone is like a jigsaw puzzle and Steven fears that he will not be able to continue kick-boxing, but we try to make him think positive thoughts, and just be patient. Further examination with electrotherapy treatment revealed that with large electric shocks, Steven’s left leg muscles, particularly around the ankle are not functioning as expected. His right leg is fine. So further examinations are required.
A new unforeseen problem has developed, in that his left back and shoulder muscles have been displaced by the force of the collision, resulting in his left shoulder being about 1” higher than the right. Hopefully this will become level with regular massage.
His speech is improving. We don’t need to ask him to repeat what he’s saying as often as we have done. As with everything else it’s a work in progress.
His depression is varied, but there does seem to be more happier at times.
One evening during a conversation session, Steven asked me “What is a coma?” I explained in as simple terms as possible, basically that the brain shuts down, to concentrate on repairing itself. During this time, there’s no way of knowing what he could see, hear or experience. I told him some of the things we’d witnessed such as moving his eyes under closed eyelids, and that the first time I saw his eyes was on my birthday 2 weeks after his accident. Steven then went into almost overdrive with thoughts, and as he recounted these thoughts, and realised, as did I, that though in a coma he was experiencing things. This helped Steven tremendously because he thought those thoughts were just dreams and weren’t real.
1. He said, he could remember being in a glass observation room, with people looking in. He could also recall his eldest brother Mark, walking past the window, and at the time Mark was wearing a blue t-shirt. Someone in Steven’s condition would know, that at some point he would have been in such a room, but Paul and his Mum can remember seeing Steven’s eyes follow Mark as he left the room. The blue t-shirt isn’t strictly correct but is so close to the truth. Steven will try to remember more details later.
2. He said he could remember a man being in the room. This man had long white hair, and a long white beard. He said the man stood at the left side of his bed. The man then walked to the head of the bed, left hand side. The man then put his head very close to Steven’s head. Steven said he doesn’t know anyone of such a description. I joked that it was God. I also said that, in a round about sort of way, he did know the man. Everything Steven said is true, and I have the photograph of this man with Steven to show him when he remembers more.
3. Steven said he could remember being tied down. This is true, but it happened 3 times, so Steven is going to try to remember more details. I did tell him he was tied down for his own safety.
4. Steven said he could remember being in a room with a large window directly in front of him, with large bright lights shining through. Under the window was a bed or sofa. This is also close to being correct but for one small detail, but again, Steven wants to try to remember more later.
As I said earlier all this is so important to everyone. Steven’s happy because he knows now that he can relive his “dreams”, tell us, and we can tell him whether it was real or not. For us it’s important, because memories after the accident, are more important than older memories. We hopefully await future revelations.
Steven has received gifts through the post, giving him a much needed boost to his well-being, though a fanciful shaped pillow left little to the imagination!! (Thanks Phillip!!) Chocolates are important, because hospital law clearly says that they must be tested by Dad first.
Another wonderful gift from Afghanistan in the form of a combat style t-shirt. The motto on it, and the accompanying letter bore sentiments which gave a massive boost to Steven’s morale.
March 19th was Spanish father’s day. I received a card from Steven which had been written by him. I wrongly assumed that he had received assistance to write this card. Last Sunday was UK’s mother’s day, and I watched in amazement as Steven wrote his card to his Mum without any help at all. Brilliant. The writing was erratic, but no criticism, it’s yet another good sign of his resolve to recover.
Yesterday evening Steven had a surprise visit from his friend Pablo and girlfriend. They finished work in Torrevieja and made the long journey to see him. They arrived at 8pm and after all the local gossip, and general conversation, they left at about 11pm for the equally long journey home. Steven was well “made up”. Another welcome boost to his confidence. Wonderful.
Best regards Terry