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.