Where have I been for the last four months? April 14, my birthday. I'd had manflu for a few weeks and was feeling the effects. That birthday started off at work as any normal Monday would have, but instead of ending it eating cake and cursing the passage of another year, I found myself rushed to hospital by ambulance, spending two days in Casualty at UHG. I'd never been in hospital at any stage of my life; not even at birth, so this was a totally new experience for me. My memory of those few days in Casualty is almost non existent, and with my condition deteriorating at an alarming rate I was brought to the High Dependency Unit in Intensive Care, where I was to spend a decent portion of the next month battling a virus that rendered me critically ill for a considerable amount of time.
At this time, the support for my wife Bernadette, daughter Giselle (5 ) and extended family and friends was very welcome, and the wishes, cards, and candles lit by many people lifted my spirit and enabled me to fight this serious illness. This I did, with tremendous care administered by the staff in casualty and especially in HDU where my condition fluctuated considerably during my time there. The care I received in HDU was simply outstanding and enabled me to battle the virus and make a complete recovery and put me in better shape than I probably was before all of this happened.
In May, I was eventually able to leave hospital, but did so several stone lighter and feeling very weak.
As a result, my rehabilitation required an extensive programme of rest, exercise, and physiotherapy as I battled to regain weight lost with new muscle. Short strolls became 10k walks, as I traversed the country roads getting fitter and stronger every day and making a complete recovery.
I've many people to thank for their role in getting me back on my feet.— Dr Brendan Day and Prof Andrew Murphy and all the staff at Turloughmore Health Centre who rapidly recognised my plight and had me hospitalised; to the staff at Casualty, especially nurse Michelle; to the fantastic staff at the High Dependency Unit, and to Dr Thomas Monaghan the consultant neurologist who oversaw my treatment right from my admission to the determination of a complete recovery some weeks back.
During the four months of rehabilitation, I was also grateful for the encouragement of friends and neighbours. I wish to thank those close friends who pleasantly distracted me with writing projects and visits; those neighbours who stopped on the road to say “how are ya, but I won't give ya a lift, so keep walking and get better.”
Has the experience changed me? Sometimes I wonder if it has even hit me how serious it all was. And sometimes it does. When I think of the never-ending sleepless nights in hospital, tubed up, unable to twist or turn, wondering if I was ever going to get out and looking to the clock as the minutes seemed like hours, I surely vowed to change certain aspects of my life, to do more of the things I like doing, fewer of the things that fail to fulfil me, and to surround myself more with the family and friends who make me smile. And this I have already implemented.
Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards...and so onwards I go.
Now I make a point of lighting a candle for whoever lies in my bed in HDU. I know the fears this person will go through and I hope earnestly that he/she, and all the others in the hospital will leave with as complete a recovery as mine. Sadly, many will not, and to their families, my heart goes out.
My consultant told me I was extremely unfortunate to catch the virus I did, but on the other hand, I was extremely fortunate to be able to have walked out of UHG through the front door.
Now, where's that birthday cake ye promised me? In the fridge? Since April? Jeeeez. Add another half-candle!