Hello and welcome to my first ever blog. My main aim is to amaze and inspire with the rehabilitation of my husband, Ben, following his catastrophic brain haemorrhage. That is not all though; I will also cover our experiences of autism, Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) and home education. I have learnt so much over the years, much of it without actually realising it, and I would love to think that this knowledge could help others.
The description, ‘It’s never too late…’ in part refers to starting this blog. I have been meaning to do it for so long but somehow never managed to get going. Some might say that starting to chart rehabilitation eleven and half years after Ben’s brain haemorrhage is hardly worth it. Indeed, we were originally told that any improvement after the first two years would be insignificant, so, based on that, there should be nothing of note to tell you. Anyone who knows Ben, however, will be able to confirm that this piece of advice was completely wrong.
Back in November 2007, we were a normal, two-parent, two child family. Our oldest, Rebecca (henceforth known to you as ETB, for reasons which may or may not become clear), was four and had just started school. Our youngest, Max, was 9 months old. We lived in a three-bedroom detached house in a quiet suburban road in Ashford, Kent. Ben was an area manager for a large commercial refuse company and I was a part-time maths teacher, on maternity leave. We had our perfect family and the future was looking good.
Then, on the evening of 9th November 2007, Ben collapsed in the kitchen not long after coming home from work. I am not known for my decisiveness but somehow my impulses kicked in. I called the ambulance and the lady on the other end calmed me down, called me back when I dropped my phone, and talked me through how to give him chest compressions until the crew arrived. She asked me if anyone else could answer the door so I didn’t have to stop and I tried calling ETB, but the house could fall down around her and she would still sleep soundly! Max woke up but that wasn’t much help.
Thankfully, we lived about half way between the ambulance station and the hospital, and only a few minutes from each. I let the ambulance crew in and they told me to go and sort the baby out, who was crying by this time. They called for assistance – Ben was a big man in the doorway to a small kitchen, then they took him to the local hospital. From there he went to Kings College hospital in London. His chances of survival were poor, but we were told, “He is a young man with a young family so we’ll give it a go.”
I won’t go into detail here, but suffice it to say, there followed hours of uncertainty, days of anguish, weeks of hope, months of infection and years of rehabilitation. In total, Ben was in hospital for two years and finally came home on 23rd December 2009.
Ben has made enormous progress since he left hospital. His upper body strength is amazing and he can push his wheelchair up the steep hills near our home without any help. He can take an active part in conversation and his memory is still improving. I often tell him (jokingly) that he had better hurry up before dementia sets in! His best quality is his sense of humour and he makes me laugh every day. I would say that love from family and a sense of humour are the two things that have played the biggest part in getting us to this stage.
There has, however, been one thing that Ben would most like to achieve but still alludes him; he really wants to be able to walk again. If anyone can do this, Ben can, and I will be sharing his progress with you here. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but it’s certainly been a rewarding one, and I hope that our experience might inspire others to keep pushing for what they want, no matter what that might be.
After all, it’s never too late to achieve your goals.