Archive for the 'Karen’s Blog' category

Day 1 – April 27th 2005 – Part One


What the hell is a police car doing driving at speed up our drive ? Thankfully the dogs were in the back yard so the policeman approached without fear. I opened the patio window and went out to greet him.

PC: “Mr Pollard”
Me: “Yes – is something the matter ?”
PC: “Can I come inside? I have some bad news for you.”

I immediately thought of Karen. I had sent her a couple of texts on the afternoon and had no reply. Didn’t think twice about it at the time, but now it had meaning.

He went on to explain that kp had been involved in a car accident and had suffered multiple injuries and he was here to get me to the hospital. My mind was running on overdrive.

Me: “How serious ?”

He showed me a fax detailing her injuries. Serious !

Still in fast forward mode, I got the dogs in, grabbed the mobile and sat in the policecar. I had left a window open and the dogs had no food. But, I wasn’t thinking straight.

I couldn’t think about anything but kp.

I probed the policeman for as much information as I could, but he only knew what was on the fax. I asked him “What does critical mean ?”. Dumb question, but hey. I was gearing myself up for the worst scenario. After 10 minutes in the policecar, I was talking about the latest Dr Who episode and the policemans shift patterns. Anything to take my mind off the worst fears.

Arriving at the hospital, he took me into A+E. Everyone in the waiting area looked at me. It felt as if I was handcuffed and in “bother”. Then whisked through to the relatives area to meet up with the PC who attended the scene (Ian Clough, lovely bloke). He explained the crash a bit more. 3 cars were queuing. kp was in the back seat of the back car, when a van piled into the back of her car. 50mph was mentioned at some point by someone.

After explaining this, he took me into a private relatives room :(

Me: “This looks ominous”

I thought the worst had happened and they were going to tell me kp was gone. I was sh+tting myself.

PC: “No, its just to get you out of the public corridors”

Was that a line ? Or was it being truthful. I felt he was being truthful.

What felt like an eternity passed until a doctor appeared. I have no recollection at all of who came. I just jumped onto everything he/she said and let it sink in. The gist of it was :-

Karen had multiple injuries.

Shattered Pelvis
Dislocated Hip
Broken Femur
Head Injuries
No feeling in her left side.
Broken arm.
Severe Bruising to her thighs
The rest I can’t remember.

I asked how serious these were (dumb question in hindsight).

Life Threatening.

Day 1 – April 27th 2005 – Part Two

The doctor said if I wanted to see kp before she went down to theatre I needed to come now. She was going to theatre to stem the blood loss she was experiencing because of the pelvis. I approached gingerly psyching myself up for a kp I couldn’t recognise.

But it was the Karen I love with a bad gash on the top of her head and lots of blood in her hair. Everything else was covered up.

Me: “Hiya love – how u doing?”
kp: “I am in agony” (said in kp’s normal voice as if she wasn’t in agony, very weird)
Me: “You’re going down to theatre and they are going to sort you out”
kp: “Make sure there is someone with you”
dp: “Yes I will don’t worry. I am fine.”

We told each other how much we loved each other. I did my normal kissing routing and finished by ensuring I said “Love you” at the end. I always try and say “I love you” as the last thing I say to her before we part even if its just going to the shops or work.

I rejoined Ian (the policeman) and he started handing me his business cards and explaining things a bit more, at which kp was being wheeled past us. The nurses asked if I wanted to kiss my wife again. I remember saying “No, she doesn’t like being kissed” or words to that effect. Which is a known family in-joke. This would become very key later on :(

I was left alone for a while and immediately phoned Jane Burns (kp’s best friend). Jane was shocked but dropped everything to come straight to the hospital. I then phoned Marie and her words were “You lie ! You’re having me on”. I can’t remember who else I phoned apart from my Dad who said “Will you both still be coming to Devon this weekend ?”. This angered me at the time and I said something like “No, but I’ll let you know if Karen pulls through or not !”. Within a few hours I understood that he was in shock just like I was.

Within an hour or two, family members (including Jane Burns) started arriving at the hospital and we all convened in “The Green Room”, a small visitors area next to the Intensive Care Unit. Little did we know how much time we would be spending in that room. How much laughing we would be doing and how much crying.

Then began the longest night of our lives.

Day 1 – April 27th 2005 – Part Three

This blog includes facts from the night of the 27th which includes details from the early hours of the 28th.

Nervousness was abundant on the first night. Michelle was doing her foot-tapping routine. I was very quiet. The first event I recall on the evening was Frank McCaulay (the consultant) coming to see us. He explained the direness of Karen’s situation. He holds no punches and tells it like it is. Things I remember him saying include :-

“We nearly lost Karen on the table because of the massive amount of blood she lost”

I asked for him to be as blunt as possible and told him I am the kind of person who appreciates frankness (no pun intended) and could he give us odds.

“With the pelvic issues alone, she has a 50/50 chance of walking out of the hospital alive. But she also has contused lungs, one side of her heart isn’t working correctly, she has lost feeling in one side of her body, she is at risk from fat embelli (marrowbone from the broken bones clotting in key places) etc…”

It was dire. And he went on to say :-

“You need to be getting ready for the worst news”

At some point later in the evening things got worse. Frank was due off shift at 10pm and stayed on until 4pm the following day to sort Karen out. He is our hero !!! At about 3am in the morning, she underwent another operation to try and stem further bloodloss. Noone knew where the blood was coming from. They suspected the pevlis, but she also had a damaged liver, lungs and heart. Frank did the op with orthopedic colleagues and karen (to our great relief) came out of theatre with a meccano set in her pelvis protruding about 3-4 inches above her skin. This kept the pelvis temporarily pushed together stemming blood loss. Had this not stemmed the blood flow, Karen would have died (according to Frank) and he and colleagues let us know before the op that they were not sure where the blood was coming from. In the last op, they had stuffed loads of wadding in Karen’s abdomen to absorb the blood and they had left her unstitched so as not to put pressure on her lungs. This hadn’t stopped the bleeding. The X-Fix (Meccano Set) appeared to have worked.

Rejoicing all round. We were pleased to be left with a 50/50 chance (at best) of kp pulling through. I think we all were expecting the worst before the op.

End of Day One

Day 1 – April 27th 2005 – Part Four

At some point on the second day, a nurse came to see us and asked us what faith Karen was.

Well, she is Catholic but not a church-goer.

The nurse suggested that if she was Catholic, you may want to consider giving Karen a blessing. (The Last Rites is what she meant of course).

This confirmed my worst fears.

She was going to die. I had awful thoughts at that time, awful !

We then, as a family, had a discussion. I am a firm believer in there not being any gods (I am a “humanist”) and I knew kp was a believer just in case there were. Some of the sisters are strong Catholics. So, I was of the opinion that kp probably wouldn’t have wanted “The Last Rites”. Yvonne and Marie thought she should have them. Michelle agreed with me and felt kp would say “Don’t bother with that”

This isn’t the time to have a family disagreement.

“There is nothing lost by having them” were my thoughts. And if it made Marie and Yvonne feel better, then kp would have liked that.

Michelle, Yvonne and I weren’t there for The Last Rites, but Marie I think really appreciated it.

Day 2 – Thursday 28th April 2005

It is hard to put into words our experience as the family and friends of someone critically ill in an Intensive Care ward and someone who we loved very much. The following days and nights lasted an eternity. We cried like babies and laughed like hyenas, experiencing the widest range of human emotion possible.

Karen’s first op was on the Wednesday (27th) evening at 6.35pm. All the family arrived during the operation and we convened in the relatives room, a small room just inside ICU. I had the only one to have seen her before she went in. It was a very anxious wait and the conversation was quite low. To get to the intensive care unit, she would have to be wheeled right past us, so I can remember being very attentive to everyone going past.

At 2245, she was wheeled past us into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). She was alive. Relief was abundant. Only 2 people could go and sit by her bed in ICU at one time, so Jane and I went in to see her. We had to go through a washing hands, wearing aprons and gloves routine every time we went on to the ward and washing hands on the way out.

I think it’s about week 2 when I started the blog so it’s over 15 months since this day when I write this.  I can’t recall how she looked after the first op, but I think she had started to swell up in her hands/face/neck. She was heavily sedated and would be for at least a week. We were told that some people COULD recall conversations that they had heard whilst they were sedated, so Jane and I set about telling her that the operation had been fine and that she would have to “fight” over the next day or so.

Jane :- If anyone can do it, you can do it Mrs P.

We talked for a while and then let Karen’s sisters and other family come in pair by pair.

There was no point us all staying overnight as she had come through the worst (or so we thought), so all the family went home apart from Me, Jane and Marie.

Marie and I went back in again to see her and then Jane and Marie alternated so that I could be there all the time. Whilst Jane was in, Frank (the head anaesthetist honcho and our hero) had stayed on to see her through the night came in to see her whilst we were talking to her. He touched her toes (we thought it a little strange) and then all of a sudden it was action stations. He calmly called people over and then, in his words, further….

“examined karen. Increased Pelvis displacement, increased fluids, discussed with orthopod, recommended to XFix Pelvis.”

She was then ….

“returned to theatre…….unstable……continued blood loss”.


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This was 2.15am

We phoned all the family who had just arrived home and told them that there had been problems and Karen had been returned to the theatre and it wasn’t looking good. They all set off in another taxi to come back.

Whilst she was in theatre, Catherine came to see us (Frank’s anaesthetist colleague). By this time, the amount of family that had turned up for Karen was too big for us to fit into the small relative’s room inside ICU and we had moved to our new home (The Green Room) just outside ICU. This would be our home for the next few weeks.

Here is how she recorded the conversation to us…..

“Husband and family spoken to by Frank and myself several times overnight to update them on her condition. They are fully aware of her injuries and that they are ON THEIR OWN life threatening. However this does not seemed to have been absorbed so we continue to reinforce that there is a real possibility of death”

Whilst in theatre…..

“4.20am – Clots founds on liver, 4 packs placed in”

“4.30am – Was given 10 Units of Blood and 7 Units of Colloid/Crystalloid”

“5.00am – Returned from theatre. X Fix in place. Good reduction on screening. Increased airway pressures in theatre. OK now, Needs blood and platelets”

“5.15am – Discussed with husband and family. Major setback. Good reduction of fracture but no guarantee that this will stop the bleeding. Given her lots of blood products which means she has an increased risk of lung failure. The pelvic fracture alone now carries a 50% survival rate. No questions asked [by relatives]“

Loss of blood was the key danger to Karen at this time. Her toe being cold had tipped Frank off that she was bleeding internally, hence the rush to theatre.

She was still losing blood at 7.30am…..

“7.30am – Heavy blood-stained urine”

Frank had mentioned, in the night, that they were going to order a special bed for Karen so that she wouldn’t get pressure sores. She was starting to swell up everywhere. Her head ended up being the size of a medicine ball (that sounds like exaggeration, but it’s not), with no neck visible. Her arms and legs were the same, and they were frightened that if she stayed in the same position all the time, her skin would split. This would lead to infection, which would be the last thing she could tackle at the moment. They took Karen’s wedding and engagement ring off at this point as soon they would have to cut them off. I took them and swore to wear them on my little finger until Karen was well enough to have them back. It looked a little (cough) camp, but I didn’t care.

The bed arrived at 8.45am. It was like a medieval torture rack. Karen was placed in it and clamped into position. She was literally clamped in, so that she couldn’t move at all. Her legs were constantly in a v-shape, her arms down by her side, held firm by clamps, her head was also clamped in place by two boards either side. There was no room for any movement, not that she would be doing anyway because of the sedation. Her head was so tightly clamped that she still has scars either side of her head today and probably will for the rest of her life.

Once in this bed, it was switched on, and every 20 minutes, it rotated her from 45′ to the left to 45′ to the right (along the long axis of the bed). Throughout the morning, we spent turns next to Karen’s bedside. She had so many machines all around her. One for monitoring her lungs, one for keeping them going, 2 for her heart, the main vital stats one you see on the tv, 1 for drugs, etc etc……Each of them made strange noises every now and then which got us worried at first, but within a few days, we knew the basics of each machine and had a layman’s understanding of what alarms meant what.

I needed to go home to let the dogs out. Tommy and Eileen (our ace neighbours) had been letting the dogs out last night, but I was going to have to be at the hospital 24/7 for an unknown amount of time, so Jane and I headed home to freshen up and I took the dogs into Kennels so they were no longer a worry. On the way home, Jane and I tried to find Karen’s car so that I could drive it home. Everyone was concerned about me driving, but I was fine. Jane spotted her car at Chester-le-Street and we went home. Poor Dogs didn’t have a clue where their mum was. Feeling refreshed we headed back to the hospital.
The consultant’s notes carry on reading grim………I don’t know what some of this means, but the last part sounds bad either way….

“1.20pm – Frank discussed (D/W) with [another consultant]…..traumatic SIRS”

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SIRS is Septic Inflammatory Response Syndrome and it is a precursor to MOF (Multiple Organ Failure) which is a precursor to D (Death). You’ve got to laugh when you read all these notes. They abbreviate everything. Death isn’t actually “D” – it’s the sign of the cross. At least you can read it, I suppose.

“1.20pm – Current Scenario – Increased Fat Emboli, recommend treat with prostacyclin especially if acid base worsens = this will result in ARF (Acute Renal/Kidney Failure) – probable ANYWAY.”

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One of the problem with broken bones, especially the pelvis and leg bones (because of their size) is that the marrow can escape into the blood stream (they call it Fat Emboli) and the danger is that they can travel to the brain, heart or lungs and cause death. So this was a big worry for a few days. Aware of this, they put her on blood thinning drugs, but this was the big balancing act. Too thin and she was going to rebleed, which would be fatal, not thin enough and the Fat Emboli could bung up the brain, lungs or heart, causing death … very much the old “rock and a hard place” scenario.

At 2pm, Frank came to see Jane and I ……………..

“Husband David and friend Jane spoken to by Frank re Karen’s further deterioration this afternoon. Explained about possible failing kidney and probable need for filtration which itself carries great risk re further poss of bleeding. Explained that the right side of karen’s heart is struggling due to high pulmonary circulatory pressure”

At 2.20pm, things were still looking dire……..

“Urine still blood stained”

The afternoon dragged on……………things were getting worse…………..


Discussed with husband, increasingly life threatening condition.
1 – Increased abdomen pressure
2 – fat into lungs (increased back pressure), being put on nebulizer and viagra
3- Kidneys failing, risk of bleed

Asked risk of death, advise risk of death > 75%”

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More waiting……………….

These waiting times need some explanation. They were a very memorable time for all the family. Mentally, we were all gearing ourselves up for the worst news, and obviously this came with a bucket full of tears. With a few exceptions, we didn’t use to cry in the Green Room, we would take it in turns to go outside to what we later called “The Crying Bins”.

But, we used to laugh as well. Boy, did we laugh. Marie was chief food supplier for the hospital Pollard relatives. She used to bring in Quiche. She’d offer it round and Glenn (Marie’s husband) would decline it as would I.

Marie:- What is it with Quiche and men ?
Dp:- Quiche is more for homosexual men. Men eat Pies and Pasties, but not quiche.

So, of course, this became the running joke to any other male visitor who came, unaware of our in-joke, they would be offered Quiche, and if they said “Yes”, we’d all snigger.

Marie would also always have about 10 newspapers/magazines every day for everyone. She’d look for horses with Karen references in them and place a bet. I don’t think they ever won.

Another in-joke was the Handy Tips section of the women’s magazines. We would howl when these were read out. Things like…..

“Wrap your underwear and socks in your tights before putting them in the washing machine. That way, they’re all together when you empty it.”

“Don’t throw your old socks away, use them as gloves for dusting the house”

“If you’re getting your bathroom renewed, don’t throw your old toilet basin away, use it as a plant holder in the back yard”

Etc etc…

I hope that sets the flavour of “The Green Room” experience.

By 8pm on Day 2, I was getting anxious for news, so asked to see Frank for an update. Here’s how they recorded it…..

“David asked Frank what chances Karen had of surviving and was told at present 20-25% chance of survival maximum. Told them we are currently starting a medication to help with KP’s high pulmonary pressures and await effects.”

At the same time, they also recorded………

8pm – Becoming more acidosic … possible blood filtration tonight

By 9pm, she was on the Kidney Dialysis Machine.

Frank came to see us before going off for the weekend. He spoke to the family and as always I would push him for percentages of survival and along with an update said……

“I am back on Monday and I would be very surprised if Karen is still here then.”

Day 3 – Friday 29th April 2005

Jane, Marie, Glenn and I had pretty much been at the hospital since we found out about the accident and all of us were very tired. We could catch the odd 30 minutes sleep in the chairs in the Green Room, but it wasn’t ideal. The hospital were great. They sorted us out a room that we could take turns in using to get some sleep. It was heaven-sent. Marie went first. There was a phone in the room, so if anything went wrong, we could ring her straight away. Jane went next. Unfortunately, Jane has a gammy leg and struggles with long distances and steps. This room was at the furthest point of the hospital (probably about 1/3 a mile away and up 6 flights of stairs). Poor Jane. It was great just to put your head down. We were all out for the count straight away.

In Karen’s first op, they had placed 4 packs in her abdomen area to absorb the blood that was leaking out (of somewhere). They needed to be removed between 24 to 48 hours after placement. So, we were told the plan was for Karen to go back to theatre and to have the packs removed at some point today.

The night wasn’t without its problems………….

“1:50am – Problem with oxygenation. Despite increasing oxygen to 100%, sats only 90%”

Sats are how much oxygen you are able to absorb in your lungs. Normally, it would be about 96% + without being given any oxygen. Karen was being given 100% oxygen and it was 90% – not good.

Marie had a chat this morning with one of the nurses. Here’s how it was recorded…..

“9:00am – Spoken briefly to Karen’s sister Marie and close family. Waiting for review by Catherine with regards plans to remove packs today. If safe to mobilise from bed to trolley. Marie has been expressing concerns regarding resuscitation status and the possibility of organ donation in the event of Karen’s death. Family are aware of high risks involved and minimal chance of survival and wish to discuss “Do not resuscitate” status and potential for organ donation with Catherine in order to make a unified and informed decision. Karen’s husband David is recovering from a recent nervous breakdown and therefore requires adequate support from family, friends and staff during this difficult time.”

It is so hard as I write this now (16 months post accident) to think we were contemplating discussing “Do not resuscitate” Karen. I feel a lot of guilt relating to it. But things were THAT bad. I’ll say no more, or I’ll get upset.

Karen was still very unstable………You’ve heard of the term “Critical, but stable”. There’s only one worse than this and that’s “Critical, but unstable”


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“1.30pm – Kidney Dialysis Machine clogging up with fat”

This happened time and time again. This machine used these long cylindrical tubes packed with what looked like narrow carbon fibres, through which the blood passed. But the filters continually blocked up with fat, which meant the dialysis stopped and they had to replace the filters at 60 quid a time. They weren’t begrudging the 60 quid, I was just curious. The rotational bed she was in was costing 5000 quid PER WEEK to hire !

Karen was getting oxygen through a mask, and had a tube in her nose (for feeding) and a tube going down her throat so they could keep the lungs clear of fluid. This meant her mouth was constantly open. I recall her tongue looking horrendous – it had lacerations all over it and looked like it had a layer of carpet covering it. The nurses continually were putting Nystatin in it, until we took over and did all the oral care. Her tongue got so bad that in the end, they had to put a trachy tube in so they could remove the tube in her mouth to allow her tongue to heal.

We knew at some point today, they were going to remove the packs from her abdomen. Jane and I were sitting besides her bed. We were a bit stupid for the first few hours. What we’d do is both grab a chair and sit on the side of the bed that Karen was tilting towards. Remember the bed tilted 45′ to the left and then 20 minutes later, it rotated 45′ to the right. So, Jane and I would be holding Karen’s hand and talking to her and then the bed would start it’s slow turn (lasting a minute) to the other side. At which point, something like this would go on…..

Jane :- right Mrs P, your bed’s started to turn, so we’re just going to leave you for a few seconds and go round the other side. We’ll see you when you’re over the other side.

dp:- Yes, won’t be long love. see you round the other side – love you

Jane and I would pick up our chairs, move position and relocate around the other side of the bed.

Jane :- hi Mrs P, welcome back

This would recur every 20 minutes.

And then…………… dawned on us. Why didn’t one of stay on one side and the other on the other side. So simple, but obviously too much for Jane and I. The nurses must have thought we were stupid !

Anyway, on the afternoon, Jane and I were sitting around one side of her bed and we were watching the cleaning going on around the Intensive Care Unit. We remarked to each other how impressive it was and how thorough they were. There were 2 staff cleaning every surface around the whole ward, even the walls and ceiling !!

We didn’t think anything of it and exchanged positions with Marie and Glenn. When we went back in for our shift, they were finishing up the cleaning. I am sure we made a funny remark about “Do they do homes ?”

Then, out of nowhere, in waltzed about 7 or 8 operating theatre staff with loads of equipment and they started setting it all up around Karen. We were told that they were going to do the operation to remove the packs in here as it wasn’t safe to move Karen to theatre (it was only 50 m away)

dp:- Should we leave ?

Operating Theatre person :- No, you’re ok for now

And then Jane and I experienced the most surreal experience of our lives. We were sat together in our aprons and gloves in the middle of Intensive Care (about 10 feet from kp) as they built an Operating Theatre around Karen. It was amazing. And we couldn’t believe they were just letting us sit there. It looked like they were about to start operating and we were getting worried that they had forgot about us, but thankfully at that moment, they ushered us out.

Little did we know at the time, how close to death Karen was……………


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The operation went fine………..

“Abdominal wound opened. Large amount of xx fluid. NO bleeding areas, liver, spleen, bowel looked healthy, all four packs removed. Rectus sheath not closed in otrder to prevent abdominal compartment syndrome.”

The rectus sheath are basically your stomach muscles that keep your insides in. So basically, for the next 15 months, Karen had only her skin between the outside and her internal organs.
At about 4pm, Catherine (Consultant Anaesthetist) came out to see us in the Green Room……………Here’s how she recorded the converastion….

“Discussed with husband and large family….. 1-Explained persistent acidosis
2-reduced blood pressure
3-fat emboli
4-increased O2 needs.
5-Increased risk of death – more likely than survival.

Worst case, will die of worsening acidosis over next hours to days.

Best case…..
1-survives this episode
2-long ICU stay
3-develops ICU neuropathy/myopathy
4-prolonged ventilation
5-long term, even permanent kidney failure
6-Increased risk of complications …….
10-Pressure Sores
11-Ventilator acquired pneumonia etc etc..

Family very aware of risk/chances”

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At this, Adele stormed out of the Green Room visibly upset.

The nurses had left a note in her records saying………….


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Day 4 – Saturday 30th April 2006

Karen and I had been due to go down to Devon for the weekend with Mum, Dad, Jane and family, so given the events, they changed the location to Sunderland so they could come and visit Karen.

Jane and I had spent the night at the hospital. Still no improvement.

“5am – Had been doing well respiratory-wise (relatively). However after 4 hours of above Sats dropped (over minutes) from 97% to 87%”


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Not too clever……….then her blood pressure started to get lower……………

“bp currently dropped to 100/55 (varying with bed position)”

Heart rate dropped to 52


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An orthopedic surgeon (orthopod) came to see her at 9am….Things were getting worse…….He recorded……………

“General condition remains rather critical. Still on ventilator and sats 81% – need x-ray before I can do anything – x-ray was tried this morning without success”

They couldn’t x-ray Karen, because of this rotational bed she was in. It was all metal with some trap doors that could be removed to allow for x-rays, but the positioning of the trap doors was bad for the x-ray they wanted to achieve.

The downward decline continued……..

“Harsh Upper Airway Sounds, Respiratory Failure, Continued Kidney Dialysis, Fat Embolus Syndrome, Traumatic SIRS, Unstable Right Hip, Right Upper lung collapse”

About 8pm at night, her sats picked up a little…..

“Sats to 83% despite 100% O2, Few Harsh Sounds bronchial breathing right upper lung, suggested bronchoscopy for right upper lung collapse, felt should repeat central x-ray and discuss if worsening”

“9.05pm – Remains on pressure bed. Right hips black and blue bruises, blister on right flank”


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The night saw no deterioration and if anything a little improvement. We were very grateful for that.

CLICK HERE to go to May’s Chapter

Day 5 – Sunday May 1st 2005

It was my birthday today and Karen came up trumps ! :)

She looked great. She was still on this fantastic bed (£5000 pw hire !) that locks her in position so she can’t move. Every 20 minutes it tilted her along the line of her body from 45 degrees left to 45 degrees right. This was for a number of reasons :-

  • To stop her lungs from getting congested.
  • To help prevent bed sores.
  • To stop her skin from splitting where she has the massive bruising & swelling from the accident.
  • And to keep her neck in alignment.

Mum and Dad were up for the weekend staying at a hotel in Sunderland. Mum has done a good clean of the house and got the washing up to date and while putting some of my underwear away, dad came across a Birthday Card that Karen had bought me in her knicker draw. It wasn’t signed, but the words of the card were fantastic.

“To a special husband with love…
In you I have found a wonderful partner and friend to share my life….
and as long as we have love and each other….
I have everything I could ever need and much, much more”
Underneath were 5 hearts. (I always put 5 kisses on my cards to her, and she is the only person who gets 5)

Well, when Dad gave me the card in the visitors room and I had read it, I said “I am gonna cry now” and sure enough I shed a few tears. Dad said “I shed a tear or two when I read it” (trying to make me not feel such a numpty ! ;-) . The card was so lovely. Karen couldn’t speak and was heavily sedated, but she was speaking to me through this card.

We followed this up with other cards and Marie brough a birthday cake in and some bubbly and we toasted Karen and the great night she had had.

Karen’s kidneys were failing and she was put on a dialysis machine which helped stem her rising temperature and reduce her swelling. We warned that the next few days she was at risk of infection and that was the next danger to overcome

Day 6 – Monday 2nd May 2005

Dad’s birthday today. Exchange of Cards in the visitors room.

Karen had had another good night and the nurses had experienced more problems with the life support machines than Karen.

Karen’s kidneys had started working again and her swelling was down without the dialysis machine which was great. We were told there would be more news tomorrow when the consultants were back off the Bank Holiday Weekend Break.

Still critical, but stable

Day 7 – Tuesday 3rd May 2005

Uneventful Day. We were all still talking to Karen. Haven’t got a clue if she could hear us. We were told that kp would be moved to Sunderland today but logistics didn’t allow. They needed a special kind of ambulance, a bed free at Sunderland ICU, a free doctor and nurse to go with her etc etc….

Spoke to Frank who was very pleased she was still here. I asked for odds again. 50/50. We were happy with that. We had been down to 20% chance of survival before the weekend. She’s a fighter.

Day 8 – Wednesday 4th May 2005

By this stage, we knew the Green Room inside out. It had an adjacent toilet, sink and shower, which we all made use of (even the shower). We had all sussed that if you sat in a certain seat in the Green Room, you can see through the knee level air vent to the shower room and if anyone was on the loo, you can see their legs while they sat on the loo.

I think I was last to realise it and always wondered why Adele went to a different loo. Another good reason to use another loo was the thickness of the door to the shower room. PAPER THIN. Fart and everyone knew it !

We had sussed the coffee machine out in there also. It served 2 different soups, coffee, hot chocolate and tea. But we all knew the only thing that was drinkable was the tea. All this advice we would pass on to other families who entered OUR green room.

Another tip we learned…………….Sometimes, we would have that many drinks of tea, the machine would run out of water to heat up, but we had a solution. Get the plastic flowers out of the vase. Take the vase into the shower room. Stand UNDER the shower with the vase, and fill the vase up with water and then fill the drinks machine up. It couldn’t be done in the little sink, because of the angles and the size of the vase.

All these tips we passed on to other families. There was a great camaraderie amongst the families in the Green Room. We got on very well with the Lews family. The husband, daughter (20) and 2 sons (18,19) were there for Karen Lews who was the same age as Karen. She was also a big Donny Osmond fan and was ALSO going to the same concert kp was due to go to in September. The daughter brought in a photo of Donny so that we could put it up near our Karen, which was nice.

We also kept their lads supplied with fags as they were a bit strapped for cash.

Sadly, she died about a week after being admitted to the ICU.

Despite all the odds, our Karen was still managing to win the battles she was facing. Every day, we felt there was more chance she would survive.

Karen had a big problem with her temperature today. Everyday she was under this inflatable blanket, that had very cold air pumped into it. It did a great job of bringing her temperature down. She peaked at 39′C today. Not too bad for Karen.


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Karen had had an eye swab (and some other swabs) taken the other day. The results were back today (E.Coli in her eyes, and enterococcus in her lungs…………


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The consultants wanted to rule out Karen’s neck and spine for damage, but the only way they could really do this is by waking her up …..


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At 6pm, they started to lighten her sedation. We weren’t allowed in the ICU at this point for some reason. It soon became clear that Karen wasn’t reacting well to being taken off the sedation drugs. She was getting very agitated apparently. A nurse came to see me in the green room and asked if I would come through and try and calm her down, which I duly did. Miraculously, hearing my voice did calm her down substantially, but not enough to keep her unsedated, so she was re-sedated.

Off sedation for 3 minutes. Increased Heart Rate. Increased Blood Pressure. Increased Respiratory Rate. Agitated. Had had a bolus of morphine [a burst]


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They thought the stress of being trapped and unable to move on this rotational bed got her agitated. It felt right. The good news was they were able to do some neurological tests whilst she was under light sedation.


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Day 9 – Thursday 5th May 2005

I didn’t do a blog for this day, but here is what the hospital notes say happened……….

The way forward as recorded by an ICU consultant at 9.50am……………

Hip / Pevlis fixing to be done at Sunderland but can’t go there until other issues sorted. Needs halo (to ask Mr BXXXXX) then tracheostomy and closure of abdomen then wake up and assess c-spine and neurology and then transfer to sunderland

At 4pm, Karen was moved off the rotational bed, which meant for the first time since Day 2 she was not being held rigidly in place. Were she to be taken off the sedation, she wouldn’t feel as closed in and hopefully wouldn’t get agitated.

Patient shifted (log rolled) on to new bed. Hip appeared stable. Grade 2 pressure sores over both xx region with bruising. Grade 1 pressure sores over the right calf and thigh. Grade 1 pressure left calf

At 7pm, kp’s temperature was in check, so the cooling blanked was removed.

Day 10 – Friday 6th May 2005

The main orthopod came to examine Karen today. He concluded………

Hip appears possibly dislocated from AP Pelvis. To discuss with (Sunderland orthopod) over weekend.

Today, she also had an ultrasound of her kidneys, but it was tricky to do with the external meccano set protruding from her front and back…….

Kidney Ultrasound – sub-optimal examination due to technical reasons such as overlying dressing and external fixation frame. Both kidneys appear structurally normal, but keep in mind suboptimum examination

Every day, the hospital prepares a summary sheet of her current situation………..Here is today’s. Until I saw this, I was completely unaware that Karen had pneumonia at this time as were the rest of the family. We were aware of the MRSA she had in her head wound though. I have highlighted some key things………..


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The physios were attending daily by this stage. You might think what physio can she do while she is sedated, but basically the physio ran through a set of exercises that the family could do to stop Karen’s arms and hands bending in on themselves………

Physio-continue daily arm stretches (15 second hold x 5 neutral). Unable to do passive movements for knees, hips or upper limbs

Day 11 – Saturday 7th May 2005

Again, didn’t blog today, but hospital records show that today was the day the Tracheostomy was performed. This meant that Karen could have her mouth treated at last. Her tongue was scarred and her mouth was in an awful state. We would put this stuff called Nystatin in on a regular basis and swab and clean out her mouth with sponges on sticks.

This was very therapeutic for us as relatives as it really felt like we were caring for Karen. We had always mopped her brow with cold water and been kissing her all the time, but this really felt like we were doing some good.

Day 12 – Sunday 8th May 2005

No blog done today. Hospital records show….
At 3am, one of the doctors recorded….

Chest infection – enterococcus, unstable trachy tube, plan to do chest x-ray and may wake up today

One of the most exciting times for us as a family was when they woke Karen up. For over 11 days, we had talked and talked and talked to Karen about every silly little thing that would come in to our mind. We had all told her how much we loved her, how strong her fight would have to be, what the weather outside was, any family news, what the nurses were up to. The nurses often sniggered at us as we talked crap to Karen, because it was quite comical at some of the stuff we came out with. I recall one particular conversation I had with her………..and yes, you DO get this desperate for conversation………..

“Well, this bed your on is great Karen. It’s costing 5,000 quid a week to hire. It’s amazing. You’re clamped in so you can’t move at all. There is some work gone in to it’s design. I wonder how much it would be to buy. Heh, what would happen if there was a power cut. Do you think you’d be stuck……………..Etc etc…..”

Absolute tosh !

But, today there were lightening the sedation. They weren’t bringing her fully round, but she would be more likely able to hear us. Exciting times. I can’t recall the timings, but later in the day, we were able to shout things at Karen and we knew she was awake because she would respond.

dp:- Karen, Squeeze your right hand.

Karen squeezed my hand.

dp (with the BIGGEST grin on my face) :- Jane, Jane, come over here, she’s squeezed my hand

dp:- Karen, Squeeze my hand again.

Jane (nearly crying with joy) :- Oh, f+cking hell, that’s amazing. Well done Mrs P. You’re doing brilliantly.

Words can’t really describe how good it feels to get something back from the person you have been caring for. Another trick, we’d get her to do is…

dp:- Purse your lips love.

And she would – Fan-bloody-tastic !

Later on that day, an Ear, Nose and Throat chappy came and sorted the trachy problem out…..

Trachy repositioned, was stable but orginally placed upside down hence instability. Turned on correct orientation, held in position by sutures.


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Arms and legs are very flaccid, apparently she does squeeze hands with family but I can detect no active movement. Sesation difficult to assess because of effects of sedation. Note CT of neck shows normal, but have we excluded any other spinal fractures. XRay spine tomorrow, continue with log rolling

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Day 13 – Monday 9th May 2005

More progress today………….

“05:00am – Blinks to command”

And the oxygen levels were reduced down to 35%…


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We had another meeting with the consultant for another update on how well she was doing…………..

“Discussed with family, explained….

1- Awaiting plan for pelvis, apparently surgeons from Sunderland due to assess on Wednesday
2-Neurology uncertain, awaiting sedation to wear off
3-probably ICU neuropathy
4-damage from accident

Keen to know chances of survival. Explained unable to give a figure. Doing better than on admission but risks of
1. Pelvic Surgery
2. Further infections therefore may not survive this”


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And her latest trick at 6pm………………


Day 14 – Tuesday 10th May 2005

Karen was still under light sedation, so was sometimes with us and sometimes not. She had less machines around her now, probably only about 4 or 5, compared to about 10 initially.

Most of us could read the machines now, and we could tell when she was awake enough to respond to us, by the main machine. If I recall correctly, it was when her blood pressure increased above 90, it meant she was waking up, not fully, but enough to respond.

As soon as she was awake, she was tortured.

dp:- Karen, stick your tongue out, blink, squeeze my hand………etc etc..

Well, I wasn’t that bad, but we did ask her to do quite a few tricks.

One of the main ICU anaesthetists came to give kp a neuro assessment. Here is what she put….

Comfortable therefore decreased morphine, bartley neuro exam (graphic), flaccid paralysis left arm, left leg (0/5, 0/5), good movement (within limits of immobilisation) in right arm/leg, obeys commands though power 3/5. Upper Motor Neuron lesians affecting brain, high cord, but hard to tell for certain because cannot obey commands to “follow finger”. May have divergent squint right eye, unable to assess sensation


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At this stage, they weren’t sure what was causing the problems with Karen’s left side. An initial CT scan of the brain had showed no problems, yet from day one, she had all the symptoms of a stroke. Here is one of the consultant’s take on it……

CT head tomorrow 08:30, hard collar and head immobilisation to resume till definitive cause for neuro defecit. Probably intracerebral but COULD be high cervical cord. MRI impossible because of exfix – husband aware


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At 6am……………

Appears alert at times but intermittent. – eyes appear to be focussing and following my voice and will intermittently blink on command

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But, by 4pm…………….

Becoming more reponsive over day. No movement on left side. Moving right arm and small movements of right leg. Trying to communicate words, able to nod and shake head

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This was an incredibly frustrating time for Karen and family. Karen was desperately trying to say things, and we couldn’t understand most of what she mouthed. The nurses gave us a “stroke board”

It had a set of symbols on with meanings like “I feel hot”, “I feel cold”, “I am in pain”, “I am upset”, “I am happy”, “I am hungry” etc etc…

We tried hard to get Karen to use this, but being unable to move her arms or hands enough to use it, we had to point to them and say (one by one),

dp:- “Are you cold ?” (pointing to the “I am cold” picture)

etc etc…

Sometimes this worked. It was heartbreaking when she pointed to “I am upset”, heartbreaking.

On the reverse side of all these pictures were the letters A to Z. The idea being Karen could spell out what she wanted to say………………This was equally as frustrating for the same reasons, she didn’t have the strength to point to a letter, so what we would do is lift her right hand up, she would stretch her finger out, and we would (one by one) take her finger to each different letter and say………..

dp:- Is it this one ?

We realized it would be quicker to point at each letter and wait for a nod or a blink. But even then it was PAINFULLY slow, and because it took so long for even one letter, Karen lost her concentration and ended up spelling things like



As her strength increased over the next day or so, we tried to get her to write what she meant………… Being so weak, she couldn’t move her hand sideways as she wrote, so she would end up writing a whole word in the space of one letter :-(

I saved all the writing she did………Here are some of the ones which at least we have a chance of decoding……


Any ideas ?


I think these were done whilst I wasn’t there when she was trying to communicate with the nurses. Incidentally, they weren’t all neatly arranged like this, I have brought them all together from a full sheet of A4…..


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Here’s a couple more we struggled with and an idea I had of putting the sets of letters on 3 rows, so she could point to the row her letter was on and then I could go along that row. Cracking idea, but it didn’t work – not enough attention span to find the letter…..


Have a go at this one………………..


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Here is her second go at writing this…………….


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I worked this out – it is to do with Pile Cream of all things !

Day 15 – Wednesday 11th May 2005

Karen was now off all sedation. Her pain was in check and everyday when she was awake, we struggled on with our attempts at communicating with her.

Today, she was due to have a CT scan of the brain to see why she has a left-sided weakness. The results were as follows ….

“1.50pm – CT of head this morning shows right MCA infarction (death of tissues due to blood supply interruption). Discussed with husband and family members. Explained to them that CT of head had shown infarction and will be reviewed by Stroke Consultant. Husband wanted to know about the prognosis from stroke. Explained that Stroke Consultant would answer.”

So, why wasn’t this seen on the initial CT scan……..Here are the consultant’s views on this………….

“She has certainly had a right MCA territory infarction. Signs noted on admission sugggest this was present from the start although initial CT reported normal. Now (off all sedation), moves eyes and lips in response to speech, noted left facial weakness and flaccid left arm/leg. mechanism of stroke unclear but I think right carotid dissection (traumatic) is quite likely. Could attempt carotid doppler in a week or so but it won’t affect immediate management.”

At about 10pm on the night, problems started to develop with Karen’s arterial line in her left arm. Karen is a bugger to get needles into and they spent a good while (2 hours+) trying to get another one in. In the end, they ended up inserting it in her left foot, securing it with sutures.

Day 15 – Thursday 12th May 2005

What a cracking day. Karen is on a normal bed. Her face swelling is greatly reduced. She’s been opening her eyes a lot (when she is not tired). For the past few days, Karen has been trying to tell us things. She no longer has the mouth ventilation (she is on tracheostomy ventilation) so her lips are free to move. The stroke means only one side of her mouth moves, but she is desperately trying to tell us things but its very hard to work out what she is trying to say as no air comes out of her mouth, so its a major lip-reading challenge.


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You can tell she is frustrated because she does a tutting motion.

Marie got upset one time in front of Karen (something we all tried not to do) because she was getting so upset for Karen and her frustration. I did the same once, but managed to avert her eyes (as someone else was there to distract her). These were the worst times in some ways. At least when she was sedated, she wasn’t getting upset and frustrated.

We have a stroke chart with letters but she is too weak to point to the letters, and the hand that she has movement in is the one on the end of her broken arm.

So, we would point to the letters and get her to stick her tongue out when we were on the right letter. This takes forever and tires Karen out. We never got past letter 3 of a word, and we would end up spelling something like “GEZ”. We never managed to work out what she wanted from this chart.


Karen was doing very well on the ventilator (down to 35% oxygen mix), so we asked if they could put the speech gadget on and deflate the cuff that stops air passing past the vocal chords. They had to empty her stomach first as we couldn’t risk her vomiting and breathing down the vomit. They deflated the cuff, and it took a while for Karen to get used to the sensation of air passing over her vocal chords. But then bit by bit we could hear VERY faint words. I was on the wrong side of the bed and couldn’t run quick around to put my ear right up to her mouth.

“Where is the toilet?” (very very quiet)

I explained she didn’t need to worry about that. There are tubes and things taking care of that !

I didn’t realise that they had still to fit another gadget to the ventilator to make more air pass over her vocal chords.

When they fitted that, Karen could talk and WOW – it was marvellous. I can’t recall what else she said, I was too elated.

I think I asked if she was in pain, is she fed up and some other dumb questions.

It was just great to hear that Karen was still Karen. There was a lot of visitor changing in 10 minutes so everyone could hear her speak.

She soon got tired and fell asleep and they inflated the cuff and the voice stopped.

A Cracking day. From the “crying bins” outside the hospital where we would bawl like babies in such sadness thinking kp wouldn’t live through the night to Karen in a normal bed, colour in her cheeks (something she never had when she was well !) to Karen conscious and speaking – words can’t describe the feeling of elation.

Day 16 – Friday 13th May

The nurses can’t leave Karen with the cuff deflated (so she can speak) for too long, as she has to make more of an effort to breath and it really tires her out. So for today, there was no voice. Records show…..

“6.30am -Trying to comm by lip reading and squeezing hands”

Karen was taken for a scan today to check her carotid artery for furring. A standard procedure after someone has had a stroke. Seems to be all clear :)

Mum and Dad were up visiting. For most of their visit she was asleep. The scan really took it out of her, but she did reward them with some awake time. What a shame the voice gadget wasn’t fitted. She had a high temperature today (39.7) and was very hot. We were constantly wiping her head, and when mum and dad went in I told them to continue that. Mum did it for a bit, then Dad. Dad said “I bet you prefer my TLC over Mums”. Karen smiled and nodded much to dad’s amusement.

Mum said to Karen that she was miffed that Karen would be getting her hip done before hers. (Mum is due a hip op). Karen smiled at this which pleased me and mum no end.

Other good news of the day was that Karen moved her left hand ever so slightly (the side affected by the stroke). I didn’t see it at first, it was the nurse (Gerry) who spotted it and let me know and then she did it again. I also noticed her mouth seems to be working on both sides a bit better. So there is big hope here !!!

We were told that on Sunday (assuming free ICU beds at Sunderland), kp would be moved to Sunderland and that the big pelvic op would take place on Tuesday. She would return to Gateshead on Wednesday.

Critical Op which we will all be pleased to have behind us !

Day 17 – Saturday 14th May 2005

kp is on a roll !!!! :-)

She was on the bellows overnight for a while. This is a halfway house between full ventilation and breathing for herself. It is more taxing for Karen, but makes her lungs stronger…….But…..

Was tiring at 5am, put back on ventilation. Plan to return to bellows. Much more alert/orientated today. Very appropriate responses but left neglect/paresis remains.

She had a bloody awful night “projectile vomiting” as kp herself described it.

But a cracking day today. She had the voice thing fitted to her ventilator and gave the doctor (John) the “1000 question” treatment about her awful night. Poor chap probably wants to get her sedated asap.

Here’s his record of it……


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But, he went on to say………

Awake and communicating well with the cuff down but keeps asking the same questions repeatedly

She has been smiling today a lot at various funny situations.

There is a lovely indian nurse called Susilla, and Karen keeps calling her over using the name “Basillus”. When she was first told the name Susilla, she bluntly said “who thinks up these names ?”. We chuckled. Susilla smiled.

On the negative side she is also very confused and is convinced she went out with one of the nurses (Alan) for a meal the night before. Alan says he didn’t go out with her. I believe him. But this is quite normal apparently to have vivid dreams when on morphine.

kp is off all pain relief at the moment but the memories of the dreams linger.

I have been prodding lots of karen’s left side today. Something to do ;-)

She said she could feel it, but then I said “can you feel this ?” (and I wasn’t prodding) and she said “yes”. I said “I wasn’t prodding then. You cheat ! :) ”. She immediately replied “You’re a cheat too then”. I laughed, kp did a big grin.

I have a voice recording of Karen thanking everyone for their texts. When my friend Nigel can get it on the internet, I will post the link in the blog and you can hear kp.

Tomorrow should be the move to Sunderland. 2pm is the scheduled time, could be earlier or later though.

Pelvic Op on Tuesday.

Roll on days like today ! :)

Day 18 – Sunday 15th May – Part One

Had a phone call while I was walking the dogs. Karen is being moved this morning to Sunderland. She should be there by now. Being sedated for the journey.

Here is the letter that accompanied her to Sunderland…………..


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Day 18 – Sunday 15th May – Part Two

Another storming day for Karen !! She is on fire !!

Let’s get the negatives out of the way first.

I felt that the stroke was showing itself more than previous days. Her left eye, mouth, arm and legs aren’t as responsive as previous days, but I am not overly worried about this as I am sure these things come in fits and starts.

She had a temperature after the journey, but I am pleased to report that after much wiping of kp’s head, arm and legs and the cooling blanket, this was normal by the time we left. The nurse advised us if it didn’t drop, there was a possibility the operation would go ahead as planned. Hopefully it will stay down.

kp got a little distressed and wanted to tell us something but waited until there were no nursing staff within earshot. She relayed the fact she had overheard a nurse at Gateshead saying how distraught I was that kp may not pull through this (to another nurse). When kp first went in, there was big doubt she would make it through the first few days, and indeed we did nearly lose her on the first night. And I and the family were distraught at times. But since then, with her boundless determination and strength, the situation is very different and although I occasionally have a cry, I am not feeling as desperate as the first few days. Karen is such a carer, and overhearing such a conversation would play more on her mind than the medical predicament she finds herself in. So we reassured her that this was old news and we were so proud of how far she has come. She was reassured by this. She knew the nurses meant well by saying what they said, but they shouldn’t have said it in her presence.


She had a good night sleep the previous night, no vomiting !

She has been off the main ventilator all day, and on the bellows which is a kind of halfway house between full ventilation and free breathing. And to our great delight, she has had the voice gadget fitted all day !!

We have been howling with laughter at some of the things she has come out with. She has been doing the biggest of smiles in return.

Jane Burns (Karen’s best friend and who has been a great rock to me) was next to her bedside and Karen was asking why Tony (Jane’s husband) wasn’t here today. She wanted to see him tomorrow and when she sees him she is going to “tweak his noise” (Karen showed Jane how she was going to tweak his nose). Given kp couldn’t have lifted her right arm a week ago, we were over the moon that she was doing it and with kp humour intact ! :)

Jane also mentioned to Karen that I was missing sexual services from Karen so she had better get well in time for my twice yearly servicing in July otherwise we would have to get a phillipino woman in to help out ( a private joke ), to which Karen replied “Yes, because they are cheap [to hire] aren’t they”. We laughed, kp did the biggest of grins.

That’s about it for the day, but I want to record one other thing to tell Karen about when she is better. Karen didn’t spot this today, but she will find it funny in a month or so’s time.

Karen has been quite demanding on the staff today (no surprise there). The nurse was struggling to get blood out of Karen’s line in her right arm. Karen (of course) does this for a living, being a venapuncturist for the Blood Service. So, Karen said something like

kp :- “You should try holding my arm tighter” (or something like that) and then added
kp :- “I do this for a living”

To which the nurse (totally unaware that kp is a venapuncturist) replied :-
“What, you’re professionally a temperamental person”

Karen didn’t spot what she said. I felt it best not to mention it to Karen or the nurse.

Something for another time…..

Day 19 – Monday 16th May

Another corker of the day. Try stopping this woman !

None of significance.

She didn’t have the best night sleep in the world. She didn’t get to sleep until 2am according to the nurse and according to kp, she was kept awake because I took her to Manchester in the middle of the night apparently, and the place we stayed had “what are those furry creatures called?” (rats) that went .

We were sniggering. She has dreams that she feels are reality. It’s a little disconcerting, but at the same time, we find humour in every situation. I think I understand why paramedics and fireman have such good senses of humour. They come across some dreadful situations but use humour as an escape. We feel we are doing the same.

I remember one time about a week ago, we were creased up with laughter in the visitors room at Gateshead and the nurse came out to say we could go back in to see Karen (a little bemused by our laughter). Jane said “Wouldn’t we feel pratts, if she had come out to say ‘sorry, karen has passed away’”. We laughed more. This sounds awful, but its our way of dealing with it. And it works – strangely !

Other negatives
Bit of a temperature today 38.7C. But as quick as they come, they go. Bloods sent for analysis to check there is no infection. Apparently, it depends where the infection is if they will operate or not. If it is a chest infection (well away from the pelvic bone), then this may not be as bad (from an operation perspective) as an infection in her stomach. A stomach infection that spreads to the pelvis during the operation would be very bad.

Incidentally, while I remember, kp’s stomach is still not fixed. I think they have stitched up the skin, but left the muscles unstitched allowing free-er movement of the lungs. Or they have stitched up the muscles and not the skin. One of the Two. What do I know – there’s somat still to do in the stomach region ! :)

Loads of positives today from the relatives perspective. kp has been on the voice gadget ALL DAY ! From the moment I went in, to the moment I left. I went in about 1115am and she was fast asleep. She can’t snore (like usual) and instead blows bubble out of her mouth. God, she will kill me for putting this on the internet, but hey, it was funny as hell and who gives a sh+t, if she kills me it means she made it through and I won’t mind at all. And for about 45 mins, I just stoo there wiping her brow with a dampened bandage. I loved every minute of it, and stayed until she woke up. She later told me she had been awake for a while but just liked the mopping of the brow. She’s no fool !

She was very tired for the first few hours and didn’t open her eyes, but did talk a lot. But it was lazy talk.

A real cracking day of humour. The highlight of which was when Tony Burns came in. Karen had asked for Tony to come into see her. She was so keen for this to happen, the nurses said it would be ok. Tony is the husband of Jane (my rock). Karen had Tony and Jane and me in stitches. She was doing all her usual banter. She pulled Tony’s nose off his face. Scalded him for not bringing in fresh pineapple, and told him how pleased she was that he hadn’t come in a few minutes earlier when her bum was bare and the nurses were turning her over.

She is a complete star ! And she thrived on Tony’s company. Thanks Tony !

Need to eat now. It’s 9.27pm. So I’ll finish with the latest news

The operation tomorrow is unlikely to go ahead. I think the consulants underestimated the work involved to fix kp’s pelvis and hips. They called for some additional 3d scans of kp’s pelvis and hip and apparently tomorrow morning they are going to have a meeting to discuss how to fix her.

There is a slim chance that they may operate tomorrow afternoon. But I got the impression it was more likely to happen on Wednesday. I will keep you posted.

One final thing while I remember. Karen spontaneously started telling a nurse about what she remembered about the accident.

She said she remembered telling an unconscious Kevin to hang in there because he had two wonderful sons who would need him (I don’t know if Kevin has 2 sons or if this was a dream).

She also remembered Angela was groaning in pain.

From what I have heard, Kevin (the driver) is doing very well. He has a broken collarbone and some broken ribs and although sore is well on the way to recovery.

Angela is doing very well also. She has had her pelvis operation and it went very well and she is chirpy. Hope thats right. But thats what I have been told.

If we have another day like tomorrow, I will be over the moon.

I will be very relieved when the pevlis operation day is over. Apparently, the operation will last the best part of 8 hours.

Keep all your fingers crossed tomorrow (in case its tomorrow) and definately on Wednesday !


Day 20 – Tuesday 17th May

I am going to sound like a parrot (no jokes about polly parrot plz), but a truly excellent day.

Karen HAD the op today !!!! She went in at 9.30am and came out 5hours 15 mins later. This operation was the biggest hurdle Karen will face that we know of and it is one we were told she had a 50/50 chance of surviving. She took those odds, spat at them and kicked them out of the hospital window.

Having now read the surgeon’s report, there was only really one thing I (as a layman) could understand and that was this….


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So, it sounds like Karen’s insides were all to pot. Anyway, she stormed it :-)

Go Karen Go (dp waving like a girly cheerleader).

I am so proud of her and told her.

The day wasn’t without hitches however. Are they ever ? The remainder of this weblog is probably not of interest to most readers, but is being recorded so I don’t get a complete rollocking off Karen.

The day started off with me in a field walking the dogs when a phonecall came through from the hospital (8.30am). Bear in mind, we all thought the op was probably tomorrow, but maybe this afternoon.

“Mr Pollard. It is Nurse X from the hospital. Just to let you know that Karen is going to the theatre at 9am”

I was f++king livid at first. All the family wanted to be there for an hour with Karen before she went in for the op, partly for her sake and partly so we could say some meaningful things in case the worse happened. We had all made arrangements to allow us to be there first thing. Adele with the kids, me with the dogs etc etc… There was no way I or the Middlesbrough crowd could get there in 30 mins.

What made it worse is that the nurse said Karen had asked for me to be by her bedside. TOTALLY understandable, but I felt like I was letting her down by not being there. We had specifically told nurses to let us know if there was any change in the plan. 30 mins notice ain’t enough.

I told the nurse how livid I was and that I would be taking this further. I then put the phone down and phoned family to let them know.

Dogs back on lead and me on a fast pace for home, I then phoned the nurse back and insisted I speak to karen on the phone before the op. Her english wasn’t too good, and she was struggling to convey the fact that the phone wouldn’t reach. I told the nurse to tell Karen that I love her very much and I wanted to be there, but I have only just found out etc etc….

I hope she got this message. I will find out over the next few days.

When I got back to the house, Jane (the rock) phoned me and I started getting very upset about the fact that I hadn’t been able to be there for her, comfort her and if this was the last thing she will remember (ie that I wasn’t there for), I will f++king take this to the top or something like that.

Anyway. When I got to the hospital, Karen was in theatre, so I asked to speak to someone senior and a nurse coordinator came out. He took me to the interview room. I took with me the visitors handbook (which I had read a few times). I was very calm + polite and to the point .

The book asked that as part of the relationship between hospital and carers that we provide a single spokesperson to spread the news about the patient so the hospital is not bombarded with phonecalls. Marie is kindly taking care of all family news dissemination.

I explained that we were doing our bit but that the hospital was not meeting their obligation (as stated in their own Intensive Care Unit handbook), namely :-

A-They would have meetings with us to explain the patient’s condition etc when we first arrived (NEVER HAPPENED)
B-They would keep us informed of key information as it unfolded (NEVER HAPPENED).

In fact, we have asked to see the main consultant (Mr Cross) on AT LEAST 2 occasions and he hasn’t seen us yet. NOT ONLY THAT, after the operation I asked to see him again so we could find out what happened in the operation and what Karen’s condition was. We were greeted by “He can’t see you until Thursday”. He may be shit hot at fixing pelvises, but I think that his and the hospital’s communication is ABYSMAL!

Mr Nanu will ring me on my mobile tomorrow to let us know how kp is. Great ! :( Let’s stew for a night wondering if Karen’s pelvis is fixed or not. The consultants at this hospital really let it down ! The nurses and doctors are great but the consultants seem to have their heads up their arses. (That feels better !).


The anaesthetist did come in however and was very nice and of course, he knew bits and bobs but didn’t want to say too much because it wasn’t his area.

Here’s what we gleamed :-

It sounds like Karen WON’T need a further pelvis op.
Her Hip and Phema are unfixed.
She didn’t lose much blood in the op (our big worry)
The surgeons (Mr Cross + Mr Nanu I think) couldn’t do everything they wanted to do because kp’s pelvis showed signs of infection in the outer covering tissue, but they had left it in a situation they are happy with.

Now if you were Karen or me, would you be happy with that half full pot of information ?


Karen had a high temperature from the op. 40.8. She was still sedated, eyes open at times, but she was effectively oblivious to her condition.

The nurse was concerned that if it went higher we may have problems.

I stayed until about 8.15pm when the temperature had dropped to 38.5. Still high, but the paracetamol and the cooling blanket were bringing it under control.

The sedation was reduced and kp (back on full ventilation) was mouthing things. It is getting easier to understand most of the things she says, and I worked out she was hot, and wanted her feet and head cooling. Florence (dp) Nightingale was on hand with cold presses :)

The complaint made about shitty communication had clearly gotten round and the doctors,nurses couldn’t do enough for us about getting good communication lines in place. The nurses and doctors are superb. They are only let down by the consultants who are obviously too important to talk to relatives. Sorry about the rant, but thats how I feel.

I will be very pleased when Karen gets back to Gateshead (hopefully tomorrow) if she becomes stable.

Not much else to tell.

I would just like to take a quick moment to thank a few people.

Jane for being such a rock (she will kill me for thanking her)
Tony (for loan of Jane)
Marie for being Communication/Catering Manager and being such a dedicated communication channel to the hospital.
Michelle and Adele (sister/niece) for bringing levity/fun/care to this situation.
Eileen for looking after the dogs and
Nigel for sending occasional texts on my behalf


kp’s biggest obstacle is behind her. She has many more to come :-

Fat Embelli
Back of Head (needs op)
Nails (she broke one in theatre, she will be very angry about this)
I am sure there are more, but I am knackered and can’t think straight.

Just remembered one extra thing. We found out Angela (also in the crash) was in the next ward up. I visited her and it was great to see Neil and Angela in top form. Angela is braving her shattered pelvis and 9 broken ribs in excellent form. She got upset about karen and would dearly love to see her, but she is bedridden for 6 weeks at least to allow her pelvis to mend (she had her op last week).

Keep up the good work Karen.

I am so proud of you !


PS – thanks to Nigel (my best friend) for hosting Karen’s voice recording of her thanking people for the support

Day 21 – Wednesday 18th May

Day 21 !! 3 weeks !

Longest 3 weeks of our lives. But for kp, just a little snooze ;-)

I went in a bit earlier than normal today after a very restless sleep to be greeted by a much more upright kp drinking water out of a cup (held by the nurse) through a straw. She said “hello” and was as perky as a perky thing that is at its perkiest of perkiness. She was perky. I haven’t been drinking.

We sat and discussed nights and how bad our haemorroids were.

dp : Are you in any pain love ?
kp: My piles are killing me !
dp: Well if thats your worst pain, that isn’t bad is it ?
kp: I suppose not.

God, I am so gonna get knacked for writing this stuff. Can’t wait ! :-)

A food lady came to the door and asked the nurse if Karen could eat anything. Fran asked Karen if she fancied some hot soup or some ice cream ?

Ice Cream it was. She didn’t have much but she enjoyed what she had. She drank a lot of water today and asked me to phone Jane to order some pineapple, strawberries, grapes and kiwi fruit.

kp: Make sure they are washed !!


Jane brought up the food supplies and karen drank a whole carton of pineapple juice over the course of the day. Not eaten any of the fruit yet.

We are waiting for kp to be moved back to Gateshead, and the prerequisites for that are that :-

  • Karen needs to be stable (she is)
  • The consultant needs to confirm the X-rays (taken today) show all is ok.

You can probably guess that neither of the consultants came round.

One may pop round tomorrow morning before surgery tomorrow but the nurse was doubtful. So, with a following wind, she may be at Gateshead tomorrow night. We will all be greatly pleased to be back at Gateshead.

Karen has been very eager to get outside for some fresh air. The hospital is hot ! When she was wheeled to X-Ray in her bed, they passed an open window. Karen had the nurse stop the bed and waft cold air from the window over her.

Poor Fran !!


Karen had a cracking morning, but it completely zonked her out, and most of the afternoon was spent sleeping. She is very weak and 1 hour of kp in top form requires so much energy that she hasn’t got and she just falls asleep. Marie + Michelle were not amused. Jane and I had had the best of kp, and then we let Marie and Michelle come in and they had kp blowing “Zzzzzz’s” at them.

Sorry !

I felt exhausted today and I think everyone else was pretty much in the same boat. Its as if the big event (the op) is over, and we can relax a bit. This relaxing allows emotions to surface and a couple of us had a bit of a cry today. One big hurdle over, but many more to go.

Towards the end of the afternoon/early evening, Karen was exhausted and her temperature was on the rise (38.7). Cooling Blanket on and paracetamol given – they normally do the trick.

My only concern is Karen looked very weak when I left her (with Marie) tonight and her heartrate was 130 beats per minute which sets the alarm on the machine off. If she does get a chest infection or pneumonia, it isn’t hard to imagine how tricky this would be to fight with energy so low. But I think we know that if anyone can, kp can.

We have been told to expect peaks and troughs in her recover (good days and bad days). It is the nature of critically ill patients and their recovery apparently. So we are not overly worried about this.


A cracking positive today. Karen’s left side has very little feeling in it. This is the side they put the needles in and kp never feels a thing. But today, I started massaging her left foot. After about 30 seconds to a minute she commented how nice that felt.


Very promising.

Overall, a great day. We are all keen to know what the next hurdles are and when we get to Gateshead, we know Frank (the main man (consultant)) will give us a full rundown of the challenges ahead.

Day 22 – Thursday 19th May – Part One

Got a phonecall this morning from one of the nurses at Sunderland to say that Mr Cross (consultant) had been round and given kp the ok to be moved to Gateshead. Everything with the operation looked great on x-ray. He will also see me at 2pm today to go through things in more detail :-)

kp is due to be moved before 12pm. We will be very pleased when she is back at Gateshead.

Day 22 – Thursday 19th May – Part Two

Karen was indeed moved to Gateshead late morning and was knackered. She was tried on the voice box but was too tired and couldn’t speak and apparently was struggling for breath, so she was took off it.

I saw the consultant : a man who commands a lot of bowing and curtseying from fellow colleagues. It felt like going to see the head consultant out of the “Carry On” films. This man had little time to give (not so much through rudeness) but the demands on his time. He is obviously a whizz at what he does and I am grateful for what he did for Karen, but at the same time, I can’t help but think he needs to do more of the “consult”ing side of things. Perhaps thats a general NHS problem.

Anyway….he’s done his bit and here’s what he did :-

He explained that he was just a technician who bolted karens pelvis together with 2 pins (either side) and a back plate. He would have liked to have fitted a bigger back plate, but there was too much infection around the pelvis, probably caused (he thought) from damage to kp’s bladder. He is happy with what he has done however. If he had been able to fit a bigger back plate kp would have been able to sit upright straight away. The smaller back plate means kp will be bedridden for 6-10 weeks (time needed for the pelvis to heal).

I asked about the dislocated hip, broken phema etc… He wanted to bolt that together also but the anaesthetist wouldn’t allow any more time under sedation. This was not a concern to him though because the alignment of the hip and phema were such that they should heal themselves in time. He did say that there was some broken hip bone loose between the pelvis and the hip and that this would need removing at a later stage. He also mentioned that kp would need a hip replacement in the medium term, but that this wasn’t urgent.

He went on to say the pelvis isn’t what would stop kp walking. It was the stroke that would do that. And to add more of a complication, he said it was unfortunate that karen’s hip problems were on the opposite side (rhs) to the stroke (lhs). This kinda makes sense. Karen can move her right leg but this is the hip with the problem. Poor kp :-(

Here are some excerpts from the various medical records….

Karen’s hip was set to be stable, which means she can start some more action-packed physio……

1905_F_report on kps condition - is hip unstable.jpg

Click on photo to enlarge

The last sentence of that excerpt hints at a bone fragment around the bladder neck. In trying to deal with this the surgeon had nicked Karen’s bladder with his scalpel.

Done well while with us. During surgery, they found a pelvic collection which has grown e.coli, so they did the least invasive surgery possible. Mr X is pleased with fixation. She may sit up in bed and should probably soon sit out in a chair. During surgery, the bladder was nicked.

Because of this, kp’s bladder needed to be constantly draining.


Click on photo to enlarge

Communication-wise, kp was still coping with the speaking valve and writing….


Click on photo to enlarge

We also learned today that Karen Lews who was in the next bed to Karen had died yesterday. We had got close to her family over the past week. She was also a big Donny Osmond fan and was going to the same concert as Karen in September. Very Sad.

Karen was exhausted today. She had not enjoyed the ambulance ride (she wasn’t sedated for it this time) and she was frightened whenever the ambulance went over a bump.

She slept most of the afternoon.

Early evening onwards she started to pick up a little, but still didn’t want the voice box on. She insisted on mouthing things. We weren’t very good at lip-reading so she asked for a pen. Last time she tried this, it was upsetting to see her attempt to write, as it ended up she was writing one letter over the previous 5 letters. Today she was better. We could pick out the occasional words. She wanted an ice lolly. Marie promptly performed her catering duties and went to the shop for an ice lolly (with ice cream in the middle) and kp went about devouring the outer ice lolly coating. She even held the lolly herself once or twice, but when she tried to put it in her mouth she kept hitting the tube coming out of her nose and wondered why she couldn’t hit her mouth :-)

Assistance was promptly given.

She then felt sick, so was given anti-sickness drugs. It stayed down :-)

She did make us laugh again today. When she was eating her ice cream lolly, one of the nurses (Vicky) said “Where’s mine ?”. Karen mouthed “Shop”


We all chuckled.

Marie left as her lift had arrived and kp and I spent some time together alone. This time got quite upsetting. kp was still mouthing everything or writing things down. It got to end of visiting (8pm) and the conversation went something like this (kp mouthing) :-

dp: -I have to go now
kp:- I’m coming with you
dp:- You can’t come love.
kp:- I AM coming !

I was getting upset inside at this point, but wasn’t showing it.

dp:- You can’t leave the hospital until you can breath for yourself, eat, drink, and get off the bed yourself.

kp then put her right arm around my shoulder and started lifting herself off the bed. She got about 1 inch off the bed (she is VERY weak) and fell back.

She mouthed something else which I couldn’t understand so then she wrote “I am coming home tonight. Its ok” or something along those lines.

I sniggered. (I wish I hadn’t, and I feel very guilty, but if you saw her you would just know she can’t go anywhere).

dp: I am sorry love but you can’t leave hospital.

She mouthed “Shut Up”.

This banter kept on for a while, until I said “Do you want the voice gadget fitted ?”

She nodded

The nurses deflated the cuff and put the voice thing on.

Karen’s voice then came out and it was unlike I had ever heard from karen. It was soft, sad, mellow, and angelic. I could tell she was upset straight away. The voice had no volume (because of her tiredness), but the words were crisp and easily understood.

kp: I want to come home.

Well that was too much for me and despite me vowing to myself never to cry in front of her in hospital, both eyes welled up instantly and tears rolled down my cheeks.

dp: I want you to come home as well love and one day it will happen, but it won’t be today.
kp: Why not ?
dp: Because you’re not strong enough and you need these machines to breath for you, you need to be able to eat, drink, and it needs to pass through your system and you have to be strong enough to get off the bed.
kp: I am coming home tonight.

The nurse could see we were both upset and she came over and told Karen why she couldn’t leave the hospital tonight. Karen tutted with her eyebrows. Hearing it from a nurse seems to bring the reality of it to Karen.

I stayed until about 9.15pm (1hr 15mins past visiting) with the nurses consent.

She was only on the voice box for about 10 mins. By the time I left, I knew she was VERY unhappy about her predicament, but I think she had accepted that she wasn’t going home with me tonight. I was still very upset but could hold it back until I got out of view.

Karen generally isn’t being the Karen I know. She will smile and wave at nurses as they come and go. She was “over the moon” to see Tony (Jane’s husband) but whenever I enter or leave there is no fuss, no wave of the hand. I KNOW she loves me deeply, but I don’t understand why its me who has to wave frantically to get a little wave of the fingers or its me who has to say “give me a kiss” to get her to purse her lips for a kiss. Or its me who has to say “Do you love me ?” to get her to say “I love you”. How XXXXing selfish am I ! It’s just strange. I know she loves me, but she is not showing her usual love to me and it upsets me.

I know from a phonecall with Marie that Karen (as of 10:45pm) is asleep and settled. So I am pleased about that.

I love you Karen and I know you love me.

See you tomorrow


Day 23 – Friday 20th May

First of all, apologies for yesterday’s post (part two (end bit)), especially to those who saw the uncensored version with the F word in it ! I was very low, but there is no excuse, so sorry.

I had a good chat with Marie and Jane today, and Marie related her relationship with her son Lee (who had leukaemia) in the time he was very ill in hospital. Marie always used to get picked on by Lee in his most desperate moments while Lee would be fine with other visitors such as Karen. She believes, as do I now, that this is because the love is so great that Lee knew he could vent the frustration at his mam and she wouldn’t desert him. Karen is just doing the same with me and knowing this makes me feel a lot better. It’s not personal – As Margo says in her comment, it shows the deep love between us.

Thanks Marie + Margo !! :-)

Back to the main woman.


Karen has made a big leap today !!! For 3 hours this morning she was took off the bellows and left with a oxygen mask over her tracheostomy tube. No Problems !!! SO THEN –>

They took her off the oxygen and she spent MOST of the day breathing naturally and there are no plans to put her back on the ventilator. She is breathing TOTALLY for herself !!

Go Karen Go – Go Karen Go ! Yay Rah Rah !! (Girly cheerleader time again)

She ate some ice cream today. She drank some tea (about a teaspoon). Loads of Water. Pineapple Juice. Gin and some Vodka straight (no ice). Well maybe not so much vodka ;-)

She was chirpy and had us in stitches again.

Just out of the blue she said to the lovely nurse Dawn (who she keeps calling Claire, Diane and others names)

kp: So are you having to go through “Agenda for Change” (an NHS policy change that affects the blood service).

Marie and I looked at each other instantly gobsmacked.

Another time, a doctor came over. He hadn’t seen karen since she was sedated and he said

Doctor :- You are looking a lot better
kp :- Do I look striking ?


The doctor laughed.

When I first went in, Karen was on a machine that automatically exercised her right leg for 10 minutes (moving it up and back).

kp: David, they are torturing me.

She wasn’t happy.

dp: Just another 3 minutes to go love.
kp: No, its been on 10 minutes. Get them to switch it off.

Poor kp.

Another time, the nurses were ganged around Karen and were turning her to treat her leg and head sores. There were 3 female nurses and a male nurse doing it.

kp gave them instructions as to how she wanted to be turned.

kp: I want to get my leg over

The male nurse blushed, the female nurses were laughing. The nurses kept teasing the male nurse throughout the day about it.

So, lots of fun today. kp had lots of smiles throughout the day.

She had a visit from a nurse who specialises in cushioning wounds so they don’t hurt. I can’t remember her title.

Karen’s head was cut at the front and the back in the accident. The front wound was stitched and has totally healed, stitches removed. The back of her head was a bigger problem because they couldn’t do anything ‘cos kp HAS to lie on her back and therefore her head has to lie on the pillow. This was always her biggest annoyance because whatever position she was in, she had to have the back of her head on the pillow. And it hurt.

This nurse came with the appropriate cushions and bandages to alleviate this pain and when we returned her head was bandaged up and she was relieved that there was no more pain from her head. The nurses called Karen “Humpty Dumpty” the rest of the day because that was a very apt description of her head bandaging.

Fantastic Day. kp on top form.

So Proud !

Karen had a visit today from the tissue viability nurse…….She diagrammed kp’s wounds to the back of her head…….


Click on photo to enlarge

More good news – now kp is off ventilation, there is talk of kp moving to another ward. The doctors debated whether this should be a stroke ward or an orthopedic ward. They decided initially on a orthopedic ward with the pelvis being the biggest injury. She could be moved as early as Sunday, but more likely next week some time. But then, they changed their minds and rightfully so to a neuro-based ward. Here’s the physio’s report….


Click on photo to enlarge

Another thing referenced in this note is “CPM”. It stands for something Passive Movement. It is basically a machine that works your leg for you, when you aren’t strong enough to do it yourself. It literally moves your leg to a certain angle and back again.

The main hospital stroke consultant came to see Karen today also…………He remarked……


Click on photo to enlarge

When Karen is moved off critical care, this is a sign that she is no longer critical. And therefore, stable.

Although Karen probably doesn’t appreciate the significance of the ward move, it is a great morale boost to the family and friends.

Very little negative to tell you today.

Karen was convinced she could see “bugs” on the wall. I ended up going to the wall and pointing at various things. It took a while to work out that what she thought were bugs were in fact the black parts of a whiteboard that she could only see side on. I think she was a bit happier when she realised there were no “bugs” in the ward !

Karen had no feeling in her left hand today, but she could feel various prods on her left arm and left foot. I am sure that is enough to work on to gain full feeling in these areas eventually. And with a bit of luck, be able to move her left side, which at the moment she can’t do.

Can’t think of anything else, although I feel sure I have forgot some things.

Cracking Day. Karen is proving to be the Mohammed Ali of fighters and I feel sure tomorrow will bring something else new.


Day 24 – Saturday 21st May – Part One

Got a phonecall about 10.30pm last night from KAREN.

kp:- David, I am having a tea party with the nurses. We have had tea and I have eaten half a slice of toast with butter on.

Well, I was overjoyed to hear Karen on the phone talking about tea parties.

And then this morning she rang again.

kp:- David, Can you bring my electric toothbrush and some lovely cotton knickers. And some Jeans.

kp:- I have been on the movement machine for 45 minutes this morning. It hurt. But I did 45 minutes. They said they also might remove my tube.

She meant the trachy tube.


On my way kp, see you in less than an hour ! :-)


Day 24 – Saturday 21st May – Part Two

I am running out of superlatives to describe Karen’s progress.

It has been an astonishing day !!!

If someone had told me 1 week ago, that in 1 week’s time, Karen would be going to the hospital coffee shop, nipping outside, she would have her trachy tube removed and would be able to move her left foot, I’d have told them “Look, there’s being positive, but there’s getting a bit ahead of yourself”.

Guess what Karen did today !!!


I arrived at 12pm on the dot and one of the nurses said :-

Nurse :- Haven’t you got something to say to David ?
Karen :- Yes, I am going to the coffee shop today for a “posh” coffee.

Gobsmacked dp !!!


Sure enough within an hour, Karen was being pushed (in her bed) by 3 nurses to the coffee shop with me, Marie and Adele in tow.

First stop (before the coffee shop) was OUTSIDE !!!! It was a scorcher and VERY bright sunlight. Poor Karen was blinded for a few minutes until we got her in the shade of the entrance awning.

We took a few pictures of Karen, but unfortunately they haven’t come out very well (for various reasons).

Closeup of Karen outside

The trachy tube was still in place at this time, but notice the lack of a ventilator machine. kp was doing all her own breathing.

Jane had taken the day off to go to the Yorkshire Dales. Whenever Jane is off, something miraculous happens. So I phoned her on my mobile and said :-

dp:- Jane, I am outside the hospital. Guess who is outside the hospital with me
Jane:- NO WAY !!!!!! Bloody Hell !

Closeup of Karen talking to Jane Burns on the phone

We then went to the coffee shop where we ordered teas, capuccinos etc. Unfortunately the bed wouldn’t fit through the door of the cafe, but we enjoyed a coffee in the hallway ;-)

kp was knackered after this 30 minute expedition, and had some “Zzzzz”s. When she woke up again, the doctor came over and with the help of the nurse removed the trachy tube. kp still has a hole in her neck (it will heal within 10 days) but it is blocked by a big plaster for the moment. It’s weird to watch the plaster rise and fall as karen breaths in and out. What’s disconcerting is when Karen does a big breath, part of the plaster comes off the skin and all the air escapes, but it doesn’t seem to bother her. Apparently, when she did a cough for the first time, she clean blew the plaster off. She has to do little coughs (can you do little coughs ?) or put her hand over the plaster to stop it from coming off which is a struggle, so she tells us when she is coughing so we put our hands over her neck.


Another good bit of news today was Karen did 1 hours 30 minutes of physio. 45 minutes on each leg. They strap this “Passive Movement Machine” to her legs (one by one) and it pulls the knee up and raises the leg. Yesterday 10 minutes was torture, but today 45mins was a breeze.

AND……The physio was testing Karen’s ability to move her left side and she could move the toes and foot on her left side (stroke side). FANTASTIC ! She can’t move her left hand yet however :-( But I feel sure this will come in time.

kp has eaten an ice lolly and a half tub of ice cream today, and drunk some warm tea.

She was absolutely shattered by 6pm. And by 7pm, she was fast asleep. She couldn’t get comfy to sleep on her back, so they tilted her on her side (as much as the doctors would allow) so it was a bit more like a normal sleeping position.

There is talk of her moving to the Orthopedic ward sometime next week.

Can’t wait. Although we will sorely miss the wonderful consultants, doctors and nurses of ICU Gateshead. They are SUPERB ! The quality of care doesn’t waiver from shift to shift at all.

Well done kp.

You make us all very proud !!!


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