The 18th December 2010 will be etched in my memory forever, it was the day that turn my world and my families upside down, during that day my (what I thought was a chest infection) got worse, by early evening my wife became very concerned as my breathing had become very rapid and my lips were turning blue, she tried phoning the SEDOC with no success and becoming very worried she phoned an ambulance on arrival they checked me over and said "straight to hospital for you" I had a blood oxygen level of 78%, on the way to the hospital (a 10min drive) I got through 4 bottles of oxygen, on arrival at the Conquest Hospital I was quickly checked over and taken straight to ICU, that was my last memory for 53 days, I only have the diary that my wife kept (often wrote in by my daughter when my wife was to upset to write).
In those 53 days I was intubated for the first 19 days, then had a tracheotomy, given a less than 10% chance of survival due to double pneumonia, sepsis and multiple organ failure, put on a dialysis machine, Had respiratory arrest due to a mucus plug which caused 2 cardiac arrests, had a chest drain put in and contracted ARDS, with countless xrays and CT scans
Somehow I survived all that and spent a total of 88 days in ICU, I was then sent to a ward, 2 days later I had another infection but fortunately my wife spotted the signs and it was quickly dealt with, the bad news continued and on the 19th March my wife came to the hospital upset her father had died suddenly, I felt so useless not being there for her when she really needed me.
I was determined to be home in time for his funeral and pushed hard with my physiotherapy, finally going home on 30th March 2011
The first 3 months at home were very hard I had to sell my business which I had built up over 20 years, I became depressed and became the most unpleasant person to live with pushing everybody away, I was lucky my niece is a critical care nurse in ICU at the conquest and she got my wife and myself an early appointment at the followup clinic, the doctor there got us referred to a psychologist but we would have to wait another 4 months, in the mean time I done a lot of research and started coming to terms with what had happened, only to be knocked back again in September when my wife's mother died turning life upside down again.
I made slow but sure progress for the rest of 2011, finally glad it ended.
I was determined 2012 was going to be a much better year I rekindled my love of photography and spend a lot of time with my German Pointer "Jake" walking and taking photos in the nature reserve that is next to my garden.
I became a founder member of a local ICU support group, helping other come to terms with the trauma that being in ICU can bring, I have also done talks to ICU staff and HCA's about being a patient in ICU, I'm often asked to go into ICU to help patients that are finding the nightmares and hallucinations difficult to deal with, only an ex-patient will understand how hard this is.
Our support group has recently had the great pleasure of becoming a satellite group of ICUsteps, we were very pleased to be invited to Milton Keynes where we met Peter and most of the trustee of ICUsteps and given a very warm welcome.
I'm sorry it's been a long story but I wanted to show that life after ICU can get better and wish everyone all the best in their recovery however long it takes, with the right support we will all get there,
I truly believe we are all the lucky ones.
Best wishes to you all for 2013