The Stroke

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It’s not a very nice photo but it shows where I was on February the 14th 2019, that’s right my Valentines present was a Carotid Endarterectomy !

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I will just say before I start this Blog I owe the NHS my life and even though there were a few errors I have had a complicated couple of years medically here is the short version on YouTube if you don’t want to read this.   YouTube Version. 

First I need to go back a couple of years to the start.

In my late 30s I had a bad motorcycle accident and broke my back. I was told at the time I would never walk again but after a while I got the feeling back in my legs and started a long painful recovery. I have suffered with back problems from that day. At the time of the accident they found out I had a very narrow spinal  canal and this would cause me issues with pain as the nerves had nowhere to go when compressed by my discs.

Jump forward to approx two years ago and I started getting very bad back pains and I was losing feeling in my legs and having severe pain in my hips knees and ankles. I went to the doctors and he sent me for an MRI. The results were I had 5 disc bulges in to a narrow spinal canal !! At the time he said he could only operate on the worst one L3 but this might not help. I was put on heavy pain meds but I am not one for lots of meds as that’s just a slippery slope. So decided to lose some weight and start Physio.

I worked hard with the Physio and I went from 106.9 Kilos down to 80 Kilos in about 6 Months. I thought I had done very well I was pain free and had no back problems whatsoever.  But then after a meal in Edinburgh I had excruciating pain under my right rib cage and up my back, pain like I have never had before I was sick and my urine went bright orange. Turns out losing weight can cause Gallstones !!!  You can’t make it up can you all that hard work and now a new type of pain.

Gallstone pain is excruciating so it was back on the pain meds but this time they did not help much as the only thing that helped with Gallstone pain was walking until it subsided ! I walked miles and miles in agony around the house and around the streets, even when we were away or at friends it would start and I would have to walk until it stopped or I was exhausted.

They wanted to list me for Surgery but first they wanted to stick a camera down to make sure there were no other issues and it was safe to take the gallbladder out.  I went for the camera and have had this procedure before but this time the sedative was not as good and it was a very painful and uncomfortable experience. When I came out that sat Jane and I down and told me I had esophagus cancer or the precursor to it and had sent the biopsies off for testing ! (All you here is cancer ) I was crapping myself for two weeks and even lost some more weight. Lucky for me the biopsies came back negative.

Following the Camera however, I was not in a good way I was having small electric shocks all down my left side and in my mouth and on my face and head these were accompanied by massive headaches and shooting white lights in my eyes a bit like you get when you stand up to quick or get a knock on the head. My doctor was convinced it was nothing to do with the camera procedure but I was not. He told me it was migraines and would probably go.

During all this I was in Birmingham with my friend Matt Walkley and Lee Glasgow and we were drinking a lot of Single Malt but I will come back to this night.

In the end I was not happy with my Doctor and went to see a diferent doctor who was concerned and booked me and MRI this MRI was not even in 2018 it was August 2019 ! The day after I went to see the Doctor I went blind in my right eye, it was like and opaque curtain across the bottom of my eye. So I went back in to the Doctors and she sent me to St Pauls Eye Hospital in Liverpool !

Trust me the whole world is in that waiting area with itchy eyes !! I waited about 6 hours and by the time I was seen I could see again. They did a quick eye exam and told me it was probably a little TIA behind the eye but was clear now but if it happens again to come back asap. The checked with A&E and let me go. The following day I went blind again twice the first time for a few seconds the next time longer so I jumped in a Cab and went back to the Hospital as instructed. I wanted 4 hours and then in triage they asked me why I was back and I told them ! They were not happy but told me the lady would see me so I then waited another 4 hours ! I think she wanted to show me I was wasting her time !  When I got to see her she was rude and condescending and basically told me there was nothing wrong go away and don’t come back.

At this point I was not happy and was now having about 5+ TIAs a day ( not that I knew what they were at that point ) I decided to go private and get an MRI as I was all over the place by now and really struggling. The results of the MRI were not good and my Doctor rang me at home late at night to give me the news. I had Brain Damage after a Stroke and was now having TIA’s and could have another stroke at any time. I went to the Vascular clinic at the Royal the next day and the team were first class the were however very annoyed with the eye hospital for sending me home.  The also scanned my Neck in the MRI  and they found quite a lot of damage in my neck that could be causing me issues now and in later life (something else to look forward to)

At this point I was glad I was drinking whisky with my friends Matt and Lee because it  turns out that was the night I had my Stroke in my Hotel Room alone !!!

I had my neck doppler scanned and it was found my right carotid artery was 90% blocked, and would need surgery asap.  They explained how the Camera Procedure had probably pushed my blood pressure up and had dislodged some particles in the artery.

So my Gallstone camera procedure had probably saved my life in a roundabout way !! Better it happen now than to be on holiday in 5 years time have a massive Stroke and Die.

My Gallstone operation was put on the back burner until after I had a Carotid Endarterectomy a procedure to clear out the plaque in my Carotid Artery. The risks to the operation were Stroke or Death. Trust me it’s a scary time, you make sure you have a Will and all the things that need to be in place are in place. I even thought well I have had a happy life so if this is it then its been good.

It was February now and I had been having TIA’s basically from November 2018 to about 4 weeks before the operation the reason they has stopped is because the medication they had put me on stopped blood clots forming in the narrowing in my neck. I was scanned again before the operation and the narrowing was 80% so what probably explained the amount of TIA’s I was having a day.

I was prepped for Surgery on the 13th of Feb 2019 and already to go to theatre after crapping myself all night. The operation was called off because the MRI report had been written up back to front and they needed clarification on what side the brain damage was on. I was back in on the 14th Feb 2019 and the procedure was carried out. I had a funny turn after the operation due to suddenly becoming  allergic to codeine but was home soon after to recover.

I was seen by a neurology professor who explained I had been very lucky but even though I look fine on the outside I  had sustained some quite serious brain damage that would never heal but in time I would work round it. This was backed up by further tests and I was told it would be about two years before I started to work this all out.

Just as I was recovering from the Surgery my Gallbladder decided to start playing up again and this time I could not take codeine so was prescribed this mad drug that did take the pain away but kept me awake all night !! Gallbladder pain is off the scale and the only way to relive it is to walk and walk until it subsides, the drugs help but only for a while and the pain lasts for up to 13 hours. During this time I had the pleasure of Gallstones coming out of the gallbladder and getting stuck in the bile ducts and this is a whole new level of OUCH.

The NHS would not remove my Gallbladder for some strange reason and I kept getting put on the end of the list. In the end I found out that I needed a letter from my Consultant to allow me to come off my blood thinner and go on to Aspirin for 7 days but they would still not move me up the list. I ended up in A&E a couple of times  on Morphine to relieve the pain and they told me people were jumping the waiting list by keep presenting at A&E with pain. However I could not do that due to the medication I was on.

So again I went private and had my Gallbladder out a couple of months back.

Its bliss to now been pain free even if I can’t eat like I used to, I am happy not to have to be in agony at random times any more.

So as you can see it’s been a journey so far and it’s not over yet as far as Stroke recovery. I am really looking forward to 2020 as I see 2020 as a fresh start and want to start to get out again with my camera. I hope to take you on the rest of my recovery journey in 2020 through youtube and this blog. A stroke is quite a shock to the system and is life changing I will explain more on YouTube in 2020.

I would like to thank Jane and Jake for the support this year and all my close friends who have always been at the end of the phone and my Medical Friends who have given me so much great advice without you guys I would have gone nuts.

I would also like to thank the NHS who are over run with people abusing the system so it makes it hard for people who really need it. I have had a few issues with mistakes over the last two years but they are under so much pressure its unreal. The Vascular team at the royal are amazing and a credit to the NHS. The private hospitals are also under strain as they are picking up where the NHS cannot cope.

Also to all you guys that follow my blog and youtube have a great new year and see you in 2020.

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