I want to give back to the fantastic NHS staff who saved my life, prepared me medically for the future and drove me through rehabilitation.
My story is their story. If I can bring that journey to life for current staff and for student medics, there is tremendous potential to inspire.
And my civilian story is so similar to the military ones told in “This Is Not For You”: trauma, loss, grief, separation and difficulty in fitting back in with family, striving for purpose and a positive future.
My career success is based on being able to see the wider picture and making that picture real for different audiences. This includes presentations to large gatherings of technology experts through to pitches to senior management to enable funding for future projects. Feedback says that I have a natural and engaging presentational style - that my stories are enjoyable despite the dry subject matter (e.g. motor manufacturers’ response to European Union legislation in diagnostics).
Mike’s Story - Life as Was
I am a lucky man. I was born in the centre of Manchester and grew up in that city of industrial achievement and many historical firsts: the first place in the world you could catch a train, the first computer with memory, the splitting of the atom, the very first NHS hospital… It shaped me.
Graduating in Computer Science and Physics, I started out developing for International Computers Limited when computers were the size of 6 IKEA PAX wardrobes. But I soon found I liked talking about the design more than doing it.
My career path was to be in engaging large organisations to learn their needs - Rolls Royce, Construction Industry Training Board, preventing accidents through safety training, in Sweden based at SAAB, and latterly being a representative of Europe for Ford Motor Company in diagnostics. I am a lucky man.
My fabulous wife Julie graduated at the Manchester University Dental School. Lucky for me she also moved from London to take up practice in the Manchester area. “Mike would you come to fix a shelf at the practice and by the way clean your teeth” was the signal that it was my turn in the chair. That’s when you hope you have been a good husband.
Julie’s recent retirement meant we could make the move to the south coast; to the vibrancy and inclusivity that is Brighton. Our son Rory has a new place to come home from Uni and my trek to Ford’s Essex design centre became easier.
We had just about unpacked all the removal boxes when it was time to get the Christmas decorations out - no small task when Julie has around 400 Santas to be positioned.
Life Changing Event
And there I was, wrapping one last present on the afternoon of Christmas Eve when I began to get colder and colder. Climbing into bed didn’t help. Nor did Julie’s initial first aid. When I finally came downstairs I looked like a ghost with blue lips.
111 took an age to respond but did get an ambulance out straight away once they connected. It was hard to make any form of diagnosis but my family insisted on the trip to hospital. Even then it took Julie’s insistence to get me accepted into A&E. I am a lucky man.
The Fantastic National Health Service
The fantastic National Health Service clicked in. A&E became triage and quickly became the Intensive Care Unit. They took over my vital functions - Rory counted 26 tubes or lines sticking in me. Although diagnosing a bacteria attack, which bacteria? “Does Mike usually look like this?” asked registrar, Leon, referring to a rash that appeared on my face. The rash did not blanch - the bacteria was meningitis. The diagnosis could not be confirmed by test due to the antibacterial drugs already administered.