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Spanish Eyes, English Words

A blended blog - Spanish life and culture meets English freelancer who often gets mistaken for Spanish senora. It's the eyes that do it, rather than the command of the language. Anything can and probably will happen here.

Update on my daughter's progress
11 June 2013 @ 10:38

It's six weeks today since my daughter Elizabeth had her stroke, so it seems the right time to update everyone on her progress. My daughter is not one to do things by halves, as she proved yet again with the stroke. A normal stroke is serious enough, but Elizabeth had to have a brain stem stroke, which is just about the most serious kind there is. As if that wasn't enough, the surgeon who drained the blood clot that caused it said it was one of the biggest he'd ever seen.

During the first week, there were two emergency operations, and twice we had to summon the family to Plymouth, as it didn't look as if she'd make it. When we asked her consultant what her chances of recovery were, he couldn't tell us, because he had very little experience with brain stem stroke survivors. It's almost always fatal.

We also met the paramedic who treated her on the way to hospital, and he told us he didn't expect her to survive the trip in the ambulance, let alone make any sort of recovery. It was particularly traumatic for him, as he's a colleague of hers. She's on the Patient Transport Team at Derriford Hospital Ambulance Station, and she's very popular with her colleagues.

Within days of the stroke, Elizabeth was doing exercises to get her arms and legs moving, and I was surprised that the physiotherapists were working with her at such an early stage in her recovery. It turned out they were not, as they considered her to be too ill for any form of rehabilitation. However, Elizabeth transports a lot of stroke patients as part of her job, and she knew the value of getting everything moving as soon as possible.

It's stood her in good stead because now, 6 weeks down the line, Elizabeth is walking unassisted, although it's very slow progress. She's had a tracheostomy for most of the six weeks, as her throat muscles were paralysed, but that was removed on Friday, and now she's chattering away as normal. She's not going to need any form of speech therapy, and that's due to her facial exercises. Again, she started them very early in the proceedings, and I called her grimaces 'the Bugs Bunny on Acid look.'

We've taken the mickey quite a lot, because that's the type of family we are, but we've all been really worried about her. However, sitting around the bed with long faces wouldn't have done her or anyone else any good. We've threatened to write to the Guinness Book of Records, because she's been speechless for so long, and her younger brother told her it was the shock of wearing a pretty frock for the wedding that put her in hospital. Elizabeth lives in jeans and trainers, and I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen her legs in the last few years.

There have been a lot of laughs, along with the tears, and when we were concerned about disturbing other patients, the staff on the neurological ward said it's lovely to hear people enjoying life, despite the seriousness of the situation. And the other patients' relatives said it was great to see Elizabeth making such progress and being so cheerful, as it gave them hope for their own loved ones.

Progress has been slow but steady, but on Wednesday last week, everything seemed to happen at once. She took her first steps, said her first words with the aid of a valve on the tracheostomy tube, and managed 48 hours without any help in swallowing. It's all a bit overwhelming for all of us - particularly Elizabeth - and there have been more tears in the last week than there were in the first week, which seems strange really.

On Friday, she was able to eat some yogurt - her first real food for five and a half weeks. She's eaten so many yogurts over the weekend I've christened her 'The Yogurt Monster.' Yesterday, she was told she could now eat a normal diet, so she demolished a cheese omelette, mashed potatoes and peas for supper. She managed to feed herself as well, which is wonderful, as it took her almost a month to even move her right arm.

Every single member of her care team is amazed at the progress she's made - it's something they never see, and the physiotherapists say that if all their patients progressed so well, they'd be out of a job! However, the inevitable depression is kicking in now, and although she's done so much already, Elizabeth still feels she has a huge mountain to climb.

She realises just how much you tend to take movement for granted, and how exhausting simple things such as taking a shower can be. She had her first shower yesterday, and she was depressed that she had to be brought back in a wheelchair. I told her that we were just glad she was still with us, and looking set to make a full recovery, and I also assured her that, as she became more active, she would also gain strength. It's a waiting game, and my daughter isn't blessed with the facility of patience. If she was a religious type, she would be saying 'Please God, grant me patience, and I'd like it right now, please.'

The future's looking good - although there's a long road ahead. Still, at least she has a future, and the love and support we've received from all quarters has been amazing. Thanks to everyone here for your good wishes. Maybe some time soon I can resume normal service with the blog, rather than just knocking out the occasional post when I have a spare half hour. I really appreciate your kind thoughts and comments - it means a lot to me.

Like 0


Gavin said:
11 June 2013 @ 11:49

you should look up a supplement called oral chelation , this can remove blockages and really help people who have had strokes, much love xx

gus-lopez said:
11 June 2013 @ 17:23

Good to hear that she is making such good progress. Wish her well & tell her to keep up the good work.
kindest regards,

Sue Galloway said:
13 June 2013 @ 11:30

Sandra just been reading about your daughter really moving story.
The same day you first mentioned it I had been seeing the also fantastic progress of the Spanish Actress Silvia Abascal so very young as well 32 only and she made it.
Woohoo and I really hope she keeps making that fantastic

Dave said:
13 June 2013 @ 20:28

Hi Sandra
encouraging news, some of you in her I think.

Jim was in so news from 2nd home with you soon.


ElviriaDreamer said:
15 June 2013 @ 13:21

Brilliant news and your family must be so relieved. Hoping she continues to make excellent progress and will be home soon. Life is amazing and sometimes miracles happen.


Bev said:
20 June 2013 @ 08:42

What an inspiration firstly to Elizabeth for her determination and to you and the family for being such an amazing support to her. All the very best to you all, our thoughts are with you xx

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