2002, I was 52, what a great year!
My son and his wife had been trying for their first baby for seven years and almost gave up all hope; my heart was going out to them. Then on 11 March my daughter presented me with my very first grandchild, a gorgeous little boy, Charlie. Another miracle happened at almost the same time as the birth; Jo was having her little A grade eggs given back to her from the second chance at IVF. The year went on from good to good when Jack and Megan were born on 14 November.
Good to good until...I developed a really bad throat infection which just wouldn't clear up. Eventually after two weeks off work I went back, still feeling unwell but couldn't quite understand why. The month passed and Christmas Eve was here before we knew it. Boy was I looking forward to Christmas with three new grandchildren to share it with, and my daughter announced a new arrival coming in July. Talk about waiting for buses then they all come at once...
I left work at lunchtime on 24 December 2002 with a very strange pain in my left shoulder, went off to do some last-minute shopping and my left leg gave way. During the course of the rest of the day I felt very 'odd' and developed a headache I couldn't explain. I just couldn't face my usual visit to midnight mass and went to bed around 10pm.
25 December 2002 I woke so excited at the thought of Christmas Day at my daughter's, new babies, and the first Christmas I was to spend with my son for seven years. My head was pounding I could hardly stand with the pain; I dosed myself up with tablets and just tried hard to get through it. I reached my daughter's house and just don't know how I sat there opening presents and watching those babies in their chairs. My leg was hurting, my headache was getting worse - come dinner time I couldn't sit at the table, I had to lie down on the couch. I really don't remember much more about the day, except I was in my daughter's spare room sleeping when I woke with my head about to burst, it felt like a balloon that needed to pop. I crawled from the bed to a door screaming with the pain trying to get myself heard in the early hours of the morning. I did not know anything else until 1 January 2003!
I am told:
- When the paramedics finally arrived they wondered if I had taken an overdose as I was slurred and incoherent (I have no knowledge of that at all);
- When I arrived at hospital a consultant suspected what I had and gave me the strongest antibiotic immediately, which saved my life;
- I was transferred, blue light etc to another hospital with my family in tow not knowing what was going on, where I stayed in ITU until a couple of days after I regained consciousness;
- It wasn't until I was moved onto a ward when I was told with my husband, son and daughter that I had meningococcal septicaemia. I was told I was a very strong lady with an amazing constitution. I had been about two hours away from singing with the angels.
I recovered well enough to go home - with 24-hour care from my family - after being on the ward for around a week.
My recovery was long, about 10 months off work. I was told I would never run my own home or work again, and I do both. I am left with a balance problem if I get over tired and total deafness in my left ear, which will never return.
I now have five grandchildren with a sixth on the way. I wake each day and LIVE each day, and thank God for that second chance.