Liams series of fortunate events

A series of fortunate things happened that morning at 5.00am so that I was able to be revived and begin my recovery. Firstly, instead of ‘slipping away’ I had a sudden uncontrollable fit that woke up my wife Marie. She then had the whereabouts to call upon my friend Helen who was sleeping downstairs in the sofa, and our neighbour Adele to give her some help and clarity.

It took paramedics from the North West Ambulance service and firefighters from the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue service 6 minutes to arrive, and then 30 minutes to restart my heart. I was then taken to the Royal Bolton Hospital.

Once at hospital, things didn’t seem so good, as I had a series of further fits that pointed to a significant brain injury, and my prognosis at that time was very gloomy.

I was put in an induced coma for the rest of the day, and kept cold so that my brain could recover, and the following day I was woken up.

I spent 8 days in hospital and had an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) fitted, an extraordinarily piece of equipment that will protect me from any further episodes by monitoring my heart and restarting it if it goes into any other unusual and dangerous rhythms. The National Insurance contributions I pay for the rest of my life will probably only just cover the cost of the device, it’s upkeep and any upgrades I need.

I was remarkably lucky, for so many reasons. From the people I had near to me at the time it happened, to think quickly and without hesitation, to the hospital staff who spotted signs of my brain’s struggles and put me into a coma, to my family and friends who came to see me in hospital and never made me scared. I was lucky to be able to have a device fitted that would give me peace if mind for the coming days, months and years – without it costing me a penny. I was lucky to have colleagues who were so understanding, and ease me back into work when I was ready. And if course to have an amazing family who rallied round me, listened to my confused mind repeating the same story hundreds of times, and keep me positive. And Marie for just being amazing in every sense of the word.

I’ve often felt guilty over the past year, because although I know that I’m so fortunate, I’ve never had a feeling that I’m ‘lucky’. I’m presented with the facts and the experiences of others, but I haven’t ever felt that emotion hit me – that I’m so lucky to be able to tell this story, that I’ve so often described as ‘telling someone else’s story’.

My memory of the whole time is, naturally, very shaky and – from a poor starting point – it’s not the best now, which I find so frustrating at times. I’m sure that this experience has changed me, and I’m sure that it’s for the better, but the lack of intention is a bit of a problem to me. I quite liked what I was like before, I’m not comfortable with being different now.

A year on, and we still don’t know why it happened, despite plenty of tests and investigations that are still ongoing. I’m pretty certain that we’ll never know why, and if we do then it’s bonus. The fact that I’m not desperate for answers is something that I can struggle with, I should want to know exactly what happened shouldn’t I? I should be making sure that I don’t have to go through the trauma I don’t remember, like my family did. Or am I just being a realist, and accepting that science doesn’t know everything yet, and I should just be thankful and not burden myself with worry?

I’m really looking forward to the year ahead, and having a relaxing summer break to enjoy and reflect on a difficult year and look forward to the future.

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