My son Steve

Well, I have to say that 2014 - 2015 will never be forgotten in our family for all the wrong reasons!

On the 22nd December 2014 I had to say a very sad farewell to Freddie, my beautiful cat of 17 years, he was the best cat ever and I still miss him a lot. He was such a loving, vocal fella, more like a dog than a cat and a real character. I thought that things couldn’t be any worse on that day but I was to be proved wrong within the next 24 hours.

On the 23rd December at 8.30pm we received word that my son Steve had been found on the side of the road at 2am with severe head injuries and admitted to hospital in Krabi, Thailand. He was unconscious and critical. My world spun out of control in those initial moments and all I could think was that my son was going to die on the other side of the world and I couldn’t be there for him. I guess I fell apart for a short while and then I decided to fight for my son’s life the only way I could. I spent the whole night organizing a private team of medics and a plane to fly my son to one of the top hospitals in Bangkok. You see Krabi is a small coastal village/town and doesn’t have a hospital anywhere near adequate enough to treat someone with head injuries such as Steve’s and when you hear a doctor’s response along the lines of ‘if he doesn’t wake up in the next week he will never wake up’, well that wasn’t good enough! We also had to find 3 seats, for Steve’s dad, his sister Sam and myself on a plane to Bangkok on Christmas Eve with less than 24 hours notice ……………. I was lucky to find an angel in a travel agency who worked her magic and after the longest 23 hours we were finally boarding a plane to take us to Steve, who was himself being boarded onto a plane that would take 3 hours to get to Bangkok. There were no guarantees that he would survive the flight but he certainly would have died if left in Krabi. Our flight was 13 hours and we would have no contact with anyone for all of that time so although I was desperate to get onto that plane and get to the other side I was also afraid of what we were flying too. I didn’t sleep for over 50 hours!

Steve’s uncle, Ian who lives in Sydney had flown to Bangkok on a much shorter flight so had arrived before us. He had been at the hospital when Steve arrived earlier that day. Ian played a major role in Steve’s transfer to Bangkok and later back to the UK he also kindly let us stay in one of his apartments in Bangkok which was a massive help to us. I will never be able to repay him for what he did.

We were met at the airport by a friend of Ian’s and she drove us straight to the hospital in the centre of Bangkok. The hospital was like a 6 star hotel and massive. Steve looked so fragile hooked up to so many tubes and he was on a ventilator with monitors everywhere. It was every parent’s nightmare. His skull was fractured in two places and there had been a lot of bleeding in the brain with one cranial nerve damaged. We later learned that this controlled his speaking and swallowing. We were told he had sustained severe head injuries and would have life changing disabilities.

After 2 weeks Steve was still in a coma but off the ventilator and doctors gave the ok for us to fly him back to the UK. On the 8th of January we flew him home, we had to have a doctor & nurse to fly with him but once back in Heathrow an ambulance crew from Musgrove Hospital met us and things became a little easier just being able to talk to people with understanding again.

Another 2 weeks after arriving in Musgrove Hospital Steve started to ‘wake up’. I say started to because as I'm sure most of you reading this will know it really isn’t like the films you see on TV, Steve didn’t just open his eyes and recognize us all, it took weeks for him to gain an awareness of his surroundings. Gradually he started to follow people with his eyes when they moved around the room and we found he would watch films on a DVD player we bought him. The one thing he couldn’t do was talk! As I write this, almost a whole year later, my son still cannot speak and that is heartbreaking. I can't wait for the day my son says 'mum'.

Last February Steve was transferred to a Neuro Rehabilitation Centre in Taunton where he gets intensive physio and where they can give him the 24/7 care that he currently needs. Until September he was fed via a tube into his tummy but in September they began teaching him to eat again. He can now feed himself, when he feels like it and is learning to drink from a cup. He is in a wheelchair as his left side still doesn’t work and his speech has yet to return. He loves to play Connect 4 and we are about to introduce a new board game.

Last year on the 23rd December my son went to his local bar, leaving his girlfriend at home, he had no way of knowing that he was to be attacked later that night and left for dead on the side of the road. It was a random ambulance out on that stretch of road that night that found him, nobody called them! Nobody has ever been brought to justice for this and never will, we have been informed that there was one witness but they are too afraid to come forward. I waited 6 months to see my son smile and now I wait to hear his voice but he is still here and fighting. I am so proud of my son for the way he deals with all his daily challenges.

We have tried to stay positive every single day for Steve and there has been laughter especially in the latter months. Steve laughs at jokes and sees the funny side of things, his thought processing is fairly good. We can only hope that over the next year he continues to improve.

After 3 months of travelling an hour each way to Taunton daily, to be with Steve 6-7 hours a day and then another 3 months travelling every other day it was time for me to start returning to some sort of normality for my own sanity and possibly even Steve’s! I still visit Steve 3 times a week and this will continue until he is able to return home. The Rehab team have agreed that we can now take Steve out on short trips in an ambulance taxi to open up his world again. For a whole year now all my son has known is the inside of a hospital. I will post an update once we've had a few of these visits.

16 Replies

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  • What a heart-breaking story Alico. You've been to hell and back as a family and I wish you every possible piece of good fortune in the future. I hope Steve's progress goes from strength to strength 'til you can finally bring him home.

    And I don't underestimate the loss of your Freddie. I was heartbroken when my cat (also more 'dog') died some years ago. When they're loved they're an important member of the family ; no question.

    Please keep us updated on Steve's progress.

    Sincere best wishes, Cat x

  • Hi there,

    Bloody hell! I was distraught when I read about the cat, blissfully unaware that it was the tip of a very large iceberg. Dreadful stuff, I really feel for you. My own incident was in Germany and that was bad enough, your story multiplies my own by a thousand.

    Keep on keeping on, it's all you can do. And remember, we're all here for a chat if you need advice, or just to vent.

    I send my very best wishes, as does my pussycat

    Baron/Andy

  • Hi Alico,

    What a sad but honest storey I was compelled to read it again and was with you all the way. Its awful to know that you just don't know whats around the corner and how your life can change in an instant. I hope Steve is recovering and you and your family are coping. God Bless XX Nick

  • Thank you Nick. I'm so glad I found this site, the warm messages really help after a bad day.

    Ali

  • Hi Alico. Thank you for sharing your story. I was feeling rather sorry for myself tonight but I am reminded that there are others out there who are going through a similar experience and have feelings like mine.

    My husband has only been unwell for 5 weeks and although he has made some progress, he didn't have a very good day today and this has a knock on effect on me.

    it's good to hear that over the months your son has made some great progress and I hope that this continues.

    I too have pets and can understand the loss you feel when they leave us. Please look after yourself and attend to your own needs so that you can be strong for your son

    Warmest Regards

    Angie x

  • Hi Angie

    Thank you for your kind message. I'm sorry you're feeling a little down right now. When Steve has a bad day it has the same effect on me so I know how you're feeling. But you know it's just one day and tomorrow could be completely different. I tend to look back on photos from a year ago to remind me just how far we've come, that helps somewhat. Anytime you feel like chatting about your day please message me. We can all help each other. I have discovered here that I'm not alone in dealing with this thing. I struggle some days but the alternative of not having my son with me anymore is a far worse scenario and I'll take the long road of rollercoaster rides and love him through it in the hope that one day he will be able to enjoy some sort of a normal life. You take care of you too because your husband will need you to be strong and although you havn't said what is wrong with your husband if it's a medium/severe TBI then we are in this for the long haul so we need to pace ourselves. It's journey so play some games along the way :)

    Warmest regards

    Ali

  • Hi Ali

    Thanks, I do try to remember that tomorrow is another day.

    My husband tried to take his life 5 weeks ago by an overdose of insulin. This was his fourth attempt in 18 months and he had previously been found within a few hours so there was no lasting damage. He has been sectioned in the past but we have not received the best help from mental health services since then.

    This suicide attempt has been the worst one as Paul went out into the countryside to make sure that he was not found in time. Someone found him at a bus stop the next day and by this time Paul's brain was starved of glucose and therefore has acquired severe brain damage. The doctors say it is too early to tell how much Paul can improve but it is far better than the first couple of days when they were going to switch off his life support.

    His progress has been slow but every small step means so much to us and he has been able to communicate by nodding or shaking his head to questions that we ask. Sometimes he doesn't answer at all and appears to be in his own world but we know that it is very early days. This is why I was lifted when you mentioned that your son is many months into his rehab and is improving, this gives me hope that Paul can have some kind of recovery too.

    it is really good to talk to people who understand the effect a brain injury has on the lives of all those involved. Thank you.

    Angie xxx

  • Bless you Angie, you've been through a really tough time. It may help you to know that even now we don't get the nods & head shakes when we ask Steve questions so signs are quite good I'd say for your husband. Keep in touch.

    Ali x

  • Hi Ali

    Your story brings back all the heartache we have known since my daughter who is just 25 had a car accident on her way home from a shift as a paramedic in Feb2014. She too was in a coma for 5 weeks and the the lengthy rehab process. She came home in March this year and had her PEG removed in June. She can now walk supported by one of us round the house and is starting to try and speak but its all very very slow progress but please keep strong as we were told she woud never do anything like this. Its so hard with brain injury for the person and all the family as noone can tell you whats in the future and I dont think I would have got through without the support and love of friends and family and this site has given me hope on sometimes hopeless days. I send my love to every last one of you all and continue to pray for progress for all.

    Kath

  • Thank you Kath for your kind words. It helps to hear how well your daughter is progressing. It's a tough road for all of us but my son is a few months away from coming home & hopefully being back with family will help his recovery. Bless you xx

  • I am so sorry to hear about what has happened to your son. My son had a TBI and strokes at 23, following a brain haemorrage, so I can really connect with what you are going through. His happened two years ago and he is still in rehab but has made so much progress during this second year, definitely more than they thought would be possible. Trips out of your sons unit will help a lot, I am sure, as they do mine.

    My sons speech and communication have been severely affected and over time we have learnt new ways to talk with him using the words that have slowly returned, and I so hope that your son will soon say 'mum'.

    My son also loves connect 4, and oddly dominoes, which had seemed impossible- but worked because although he can't count the dots he sees the pattern of the dots and matches them. His vision has been affected so board games with strong black and white contrasts like draughts work well for him. Just a thought.

    Wishing you and your son so much strength and continued progress. You're an amazing mum! xx

  • Hi Susan65,

    Thank you for your kind words. They help to give me strength & hope for my son's future. He is amazing & continually makes me proud to be his mum over & over again. Steve is currently an hour from us in his Rehab centre & after a whole year of traveling I can"t wait to have him home but know that right now it's in his best interest to be in the centre.

  • Hes in the best place Susan. Have a fantastic Sunday. XX Nick

  • Thanks Nick,

    I'm so glad to have found this site.

    Susan x

  • sounds good. dont forget though, your no good too steve if you dont look after yourself. all the best to you and steve

    steve

  • Hi Ali, I am so sorry to hear your story, my son was in Boston, Mass, USA. He had a cardiac arrest and it took a long time to get his heart going. It has been 5 long years now. My love for him grows and grows, I didn't think i could love him anymore than I did but Oh Yes I burst with pride and love everyday. There are laughter days, sad days, depressing days and happy days. But they are with us.

    I send you all our love and plenty of hugs, its a tough road and we all need some-one, this site can help you, please keep in touch Jan xxx

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