Today marks my 9th anniversary of being admitted to ICU by ambulance for 3 months where I was so close to death with double pneumonia and severe sepsis which lead to multiple organ failure with 6 weeks on dialysis, severe ARDS with respiratory arrest for 10 mins and 2 cardiac arrests thrown in for good measure, spending 53 days in a terrifying virtual world of an induced coma full of nightmares, thankfully my wife kept a diary in the real world that was just as terrifying for her and the family, my ICU experience finally coming to an end on 15th March 2011 my son's 24th birthday and finally left hospital on 30th March 2011.
I would like to have said finally going home ended my nightmare but it was far from it having being told I may never work again due to the damage ARDS and sepsis had caused, it took me to a very dark place wishing I hadn't survived and unfortunately my family suffered with my mood swings and depression I was a pretty awful person to live with at the time but they never gave up supporting me and thanks to my hospital consultant who got me the counselling I needed.
My biggest help was my German Shorthaired Pointer dog "Jake" who we sadly lost 2 years ago, he helped me greatly in my recovery walking together in the nature reserve that borders our garden, never complaining when I had to stop and rest, looking at me with his big brown eyes saying "it's ok dad" he gave me the motovation to walk a little farther each day as if he knew I needed the exercise.
In 2012 I became involved in starting a local support group in Hastings which opened the door to me speaking at training days and a local conference about my experience and then with my wife to about 30 of the ICU staff, physios etc that saved my life, I don't think there was a dry eye by the end of the talk, for me it was a great way of saying thank you, the support group then became part of ICUsteps in late 2012
In 2013 I was invited to become a trustee for the main ICUsteps charity and to speak at the first ever ICUsteps conference in Milton Keynes in front of 200 people a terrifying thought but I felt so proud to tell my ICU story that was very well received, I then became secretary of ICUsteps in 2014 and have spoken at conferences in Cheltenham, Brighton and recently to an ICU survivors group at Guys Hospital via Skype and in December last year on Radio 4 in their "History of Delusions" series.
I feel I've been very fortuate over the last 9 years meeting some great people that have inspired me and given me the oppotunity to help others, for those of you that are unaware ICUsteps is a completely voluntary charity everyone involved ex-ICU patients, relatives and healthcare professionals give their time for free because we know how difficult it can be coming to terms with such a traumatic experience, so I would like to say a big thank you to everyone involved and to everyone here in the ICUsteps community for supporting each other.
I would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.