21 months ago (November 2015) I was in Sydney Australia, that particular Monday morning I woke up to 3 voicemails from my sister Annette:
- Mum is not so well, don’t worry but I think you should know.
- We are taking Mum to hospital give us a ring as soon as you get this message.
- Mum is going into theatre for brain surgery in a few hours, I think you need to get on the next plane home.
It happened that quickly, mum had an innocent ear infection that burnt through her skull and started eating away at her brain!
Are you ready for what might happen tomorrow?
36 hours later I arrived in a hospital waiting room in Leeds.
For the next 14 days we watched Mum make no progress, expected milestones were never met, mum would just not wake up. The fact was mum had zero response to any test her doctors performed on her.
Intensive care is a surprisingly calm place, it’s a place of work for 7 highly skilled nurses, 2 orderlies, 1 doctor and numerous different consultants in and out all times of the day and night looking after just 6 patients! It’s a place where 6 lives are held in the balance between life and death and dozens of close family members are forced to put their lives on pause, hold their breath and hope that their loved ones will be one of the lucky ones that pull through!
Everyone that cared for mum on that ward was simply brilliant but it was clear their hope was beginning to fade for mum.
Mum urgently needed a procedure to cut an air and feeding vent in her throat, the problem would be that once this was done mum might be able to stay alive without fully waking up and she could be condemned to being “locked in” or in a permanent vegetative state. Friday morning we sat down with mum’s brain surgeon and the neuro rehab consultant to talk about turning mum’s life support machine off. It was decided Tuesday would be the day.
Faith produces HOPE and HOPE produces PEACE.
The response of our remarkable dad, who having had a discussion about unplugging his world was simply to say ‘let’s keep praying!’
A few hours later mum started to wake up.
As a family, we love Swaledale in Yorkshire. Four generations of my family have holidayed there, and other than playing in the stream at Cogden Bridge the highlight is always the walk between Muker and Keld, affectionally known as the “family walk”!
Before mum opened her eyes and started talking again we talked around her hospital bed about doing the “family walk” with mum again – God had not finished with Mum yet, it was not time for her yet!
Mum spent 120 days in hospital, 18 in intensive care, 10 on a high dependency ward, 60 days in Leeds then another 60 in Dewsbury.
This week (August 2017) we had a family holiday in Swaledale, guess what we did……….?
It is true to say mum is not yet strong enough yet to do the whole of the walk but the first mile or so is nice and flat out of Muker. It was a remarkable day to see her there. As a family, we are incredibly grateful, to God and the medics for the progress that has been made!
It is also true to say, Mum has lost a significant portion of her brain, she has lost a great deal of strength down one side, her balance is not what it once was and her dress sense of gone to pot! But -there is so much she has not lost, and I believe God has not finished with her yet either!
Within 12 months we could make it all the way to Keld.
Mum, please, keep moving, keep pushing yourself, keep believing, all things are possible for our God!