In November 1994 I was almost 46 years old. On the Tuesday I felt only 95%, the next day I felt 85% but unable to define why I did not feel 100%. On Thursday I felt really bad and thought that I might not be able to drive the 60 miles home after my last call for work - I am a game dealer supplying hotels and restaurants. I somehow made it home by 8pm and went straight to bed.
I tossed and turned all night and stayed home the next day. I took some Panadol and was aching for more all day. I started to have a headache - the worst in my life, my head was throbbing the whole time. At 7pm we called the doctor and she told us there was a lot of flu around. She gave me an injection to relieve the pain and asked to be rung if there was any change in my condition.
She was rung at around 7am the next morning (Saturday) when I was beginning to shout and scream in agony. At this stage I passed out and was in a coma till the following Wednesday. I was taken to the local hospital by ambulance - ten miles away - and then had to be taken 50 miles to have a scan in Galway. They had no idea what I had and it was not diagnosed until the late afternoon. They thought that I was going to die and someone else went ahead of me in the queue for the scan. I was sent back to the local hospital and was placed in intensive care where I remained until the Wednesday. I only have two memories of this time that seem like dreams. In the first there are a lot of people around my bed and in the second I was in Glasgow. My family were told to talk to me as it was considered possible that I might lose the power of speech. The hospital had never had a sufferer in my age group.
I came round as they were moving me from intensive care. I was frightened that I might lose my memory but it slowly came back over the next few weeks. I knew that I was on the mend when two people - whom I did not know very well - came and visited me and twittered at the end of my bed. I was so angry that I was spitting with rage. After 13 days in hospital I was discharged. I recovered slowly but surely, but for about six months I was very weak and tired easily. I had the sensation of pins and needles in my feet for three months at least. I was left with a very weak bladder and now, 15 years later, I have to catheterise myself. It probably took me about two years before I felt fully recovered.
The Foundation's Irish office was being set up in 1995 so I was involved from an early stage, becoming one of the early Befrienders. I have been used about eight times; the conversations last about 20 minutes each time and the men (and sometimes women) at the other end of the line are seeking reassurance about recovery.