“My name is Kevin and in 2013 I had a subarachnoid haemorrhage, basically a bleed on the brain. It was on one Saturday morning when I noticed that I felt a little dizzy and sick so I had a lie down. I then went to the bathroom and was sick and within seconds I was sweating and I told my girlfriend that I felt really ill. She called for an ambulance, and they decided to take me to the RUH to stabilise me before transferring me to the specialist brain unit at Frenchay.
“The subarachnoid haemorrhage meant that a blood vessel had burst at the base of my brain and the blood that should’ve gone to my brain went between my brain and skull and in turn, caused a stroke. I was in intensive care and my parents were warned it was 50/50 whether or not I took a turn for the better or worse.
“I had an operation to release the pressure on my brain and to drain off the excess fluid. My parents were warned to expect me to have some kind of disability from the bleed and stroke but that it was too early to tell what that would be.
“Fast forward to the time when I got back at the RUH for Physio, Pete, one of the Physiotherapists put me on a tilt table, which is basically a table that’s supports you upright as I’d been lying down for so long. He also put me in a large soft wheel chair,a bit like an arm chair on wheels and took me outside, as at this point I’d not been outside for maybe six or seven weeks and he just chatted to me.
“During Physio we worked on enabling me to walk unaided. The stroke affected my eyesight and my left side felt weak and heavy. However, my legs worked, but I just couldn’t balance and I would walk as if I was drunk because my eyesight was damaged. Although I can see, my sight is blurred and out of focus and lacks sharpness as my brain was damaged, meaning it doesn’t correctly read the signals from my eyes, but with therapy I started to learn how to manage and cope.
“We also did some work playing catch with a soft ball as my distance and depth perception was affected. Jenny, the Occupational Therapist also helped and we did some day to day tasks like making a sandwich and making a hot drink. The fact that I can walk and live on my own is, in part thanks to all the work of Pete and Jenny, they both helped me as the Physio part of a recovery is just as important as the medicine side of being ill.
“The quality of my recovery has been in part due to the Physio and Occupational therapy I received at the RUH as well as the small amount of Physio & Occupational therapy from my community hospital after I’d returned home.
“It’s taken me a long time to adapt and come to terms with the changes and I struggled for some time. The bleed has turned out to be from a gene defect which causes my blood vessels to be weaker and more fragile than normal and also affects the connective tissue between my joints. It can’t be treated and the likelihood is that it’ll happen again across the course of my life, but with regular scans and various different tablets we can hopefully lessen the chances.
“The Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy I received has certainly helped me to be where I am today and it’s taken some time to get here, but I’m positive about life now and although I need a little help with some things, I live independently, which was very important to me to get back to being able to live on my own.
“I owe a lot to the surgeons, the nurses who cared for me and to the therapists who helped me get where I am today.
“I’d like to thank them all as due to the severity of the bleed I’m extremely lucky to be here and to have made this recovery. I have even been described by my neurologist as ‘a complete success’.”