Andy's Story

Andy Blagden is a young man, married to Charlotte and has 3 children; Lauren, Katie and Nathan. (The children were 12, 9 & 2.5 years old at the time of diagnosis).
Andy was diagnosed with a tumour in his spinal cord in June 2013. The tumour was at spinal level Cervical 3 going down to Thoracic 2 (C3-T2). This is incredibly high up the neck and the only option was to operate. This in itself was not without risk but after a 15-16 hour operation the tumour had been removed. The outlook was good. Then Andy became ill....
Early September Andy contracted pneumonia and then sepsis, Andy's kidneys then failed and he was put on constant dialysis for a month and required a blood transfusion during this time.
Andy came through all this but he now lives with the consequences; paralysed from the shoulders down and unable to breathe without ventilatory support, this is his ongoing story of rehabilitation with the goal of getting back home to his family and his future.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Moving times

Andy is being discharged from Gloucester royal and moving to a neurological care centre called The Dean about 4 miles from home. This isn't instead of Salisbury but rather to get him out of ICU. Salisbury will still be there for Andy the way they have at GRH with a promise that as and when a bed becomes available he will have it (in turn). 

Salisbury have been down and met with The Dean but also are forging links with them anyway so they know them as does a spinal injuries charity involved with us. 

So the big move is on the June 17th, a little over 2 weeks away. Upon asking how I/we feel about it, apprehensive is probably the best word. It's good he's going and it's a step nearer to getting home but it's also leaving the security of hospital and everything and everyone we know. Please pray it goes well on Tuesday and that Andy settles in well and that we can get along with everyone.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Photos from Jazz & Swing Fundraiser

Here are a few photos from the great Jazz evening that Harry & Carol Blagden organised after the Glevum Big Band offered to support the evening free of charge. The evening was a brilliant success and raised £1700 to go towards a fund to buy Andy & family whatever they need to support Andy coming home. Thanks to everyone who came or who gave.




















Sunday, 18 May 2014

A typical weekend

A typical weekend followed the high of the jazz do. This involves me trying to stay in bed for as long as possible and then convince Katie to make me a cuppa! She is the only one up at silly o clock who can make one, Lauren likes her bed!

Weekends involve homework, school uniform washing and drying, chores, an activity, church and.....
At some point in the day we all troop off to the hospital to see Andy. I love seeing Andy but with 3 kids the visit, for me, is about keeping the peace rather than having time with my husband.  The children need to see their dad though and their dad needs to see them. I am determined that their relationship will not suffer because of what's going on.

We've been in GRH for 7 months now and all of us feel quite at home in the unit, Nathan talks to the nurses and doctors, he will go and find a nurse if Andy requires one, he feeds Andy chocolate buttons or dinner or drinks, he talks it him and is starting to find ways of playing with him........

Nathan also runs the length of the ward with a patter that the nursing staff now comment " here comes trouble" or some such thing,
 he likes to play hide and seek around a pillar located next to Andy's bed, he also enjoys walking through the curtains- the last time he did this though was at a slightly running pace and involved connecting with a medical trolley at eye height, ouch!!
He also likes making potions with water, sugar, coffee, tea-bags and washing up liquid if he's in the waiting room. I then have a tidying up job on my hands!!

The girls on the other hand tend to behave themselves but Katie likes to cartwheel or handstand her way around which is neither practical or appropriate in ICU.

It makes for a very hectic weekend where I'm worn out by the end of the day. So yesterday my girls and niece went to tesco and picked up some stuff to make me a chocolate milkshake, with half a donut- little angels!!

BUT today all the hecticness doesn't matter, all my tiredness is gone because,  Andy has spoken to me- actual real words out of his mouth and even better to learn was he'd spent the day practising for me, I feel really loved and uber excited because his vocal chords actually work after 8months of no use, they actually work ( admittedly, he was very croaky and sounded different). He only spoke for 1minute because he then needed the cuff up on the trachey tube but it was an amazing moment  and has made my day, my weekend!



Nathan's run-in with the trolley!!

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Jazz fundraiser

Wow, wow and wow!

Yesterday was a raging success with over 150 people there. I'd estimate to Andy & I knowing half the people there the other half are people his parents know and are friends with with and came to support Andy/us/his parents.

The church was beautifully set up in a cafe style, with candles for mood effect and bowls of nibbles on the tables. Then we entered........ Nathan liked the bowls of nibbles and when he realised all the tables had them he procured himself more nibbles.
The bar area was well presented and effective with enough choice of drinks. This was run by my brother in law and another guy. My sister and sister in law were looking after glass collecting, tidying up etc, my other brother in law was in charge of the sound system and my parents in law oversaw the whole thing. Me- I got to sit back and relax...... Well sort of, I had a 3yr old who'd gone past the tired stage and entered the 'over-tired' stage!!!!!

The music was very relaxing and the ambience worked well with it to allow for talking and listening at the same time. There was a mixture of music and singing, the lady who sang also played saxophone, she was hugely talented and her voice suited that bluesy style very well.

It was so lovely to meet up with friends of old and really touching to see so many people who were in our lives as we were starting out on our relationship and have known us a long time but whom we don't see regularly.  It was also encouraging to meet people who pray for Andy regularly but don't know him, they know his parents.

There were lots of TV's in the church with a photo loop of Andy over the years right up to how he looks now- a little trip down memory lane. Made me feel very lucky to be married to him and very proud of him too as every photo is a smiley one and not a false smile either, I know as was in them or took them!!
His courage is huge, his bravery is huge, his effect on people is huge. His effect on people will continue to be huge.

I have to say, I'm very proud of our kids, they did Andy proud. They got on together, and Nathan was brilliant if a little noisy by the end. He even took on the job of chief candle blower-outer at the end!

So, a brilliant night, a lot of money raised. What does it go towards- whatever helps Andy pursue his life as independently as possible. We take our freedom for granted, we take our bodies for granted. We take our abilities for granted.

THANK-YOU EVERYONE FOR SUPPORTING THIS EVENT AND FOR SUPPORTING OUR FAMILY!

I will put photos up as I get them.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Home visit photo

Andy wanted to go home for a visit so GRH arranged for him to come home for 2 hours, during the Easter holidays.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Introduction post.

Since Andy's operation in August and the life-changing consequences since then I've blogged about whats been happening to us on my Facebook account in a closed group. Andy and I thought it would be a good way for him to let people know what was going on for him, but due to whats happened it's not turned out that way and so I've blogged on it to let people know what's going on.
The main reason for going over to an open blog is the number of people who ask our friends, family etc 'how is Andy doing?' . So we thought this would be a good way to do it, it also has a donation link for people to support him in his journey and it wil become a place to advertise fundraising events such as the jazz evening already blogged about.
I will introduce my self, I'm Charlotte and have been married to Andy for 15 years, we have known each other about 18years, he is a wonderful romantic and has surprised me in the past with all sorts of gifts but the best two were proposing in Paris on the Eiffel Tower and taking me to New York for my 30th having sorted out child are for the weekend and packing for me too. The day after the operation a huge bunch of flowers turned up on my door step and also a week later for our wedding anniversary- he'd organised them before going in for the operation!!

So here we are, I often wonder 'how on earth did we get here' though not as much as the first 6 months. There were some incredibly dark days and I'm glad to be through them and glad to still be friends with the people who surrounded me and looked after me then:)

I often wonder,  if they were dark for me what were and are they like for Andy and it's difficult knowing that I can't access his thoughts as much as he can't speak. But he's a resilient guy and that he wakes up each morning and smiles, and converses with his nurses and allows them to care for him such as they need to is testimony to him and testimony to God living in him. We are part of a brilliant church who have and are looking after us, Christian City church Cheltenham. (C3).
We have had meals cooked for us since this started, lifts to Bristol where he was for 2 months; he is know in Gloucester hospital awaiting transfer to Salisbury spinal unit, monetary gifts to allow me to take our children away for a break, the list goes on.....

As I've said, he can't speak due to excess saliva gathering in his mouth which he can't swallow correctly or safely so he has a cuff on his trachy tube to prevent it going down his windpipe and causing enormous chest problems, this cuff sits below the voice box so air cannot get over the voice box to produce sound, hence why he can't speak. If he could tolerate the cuff down he should be able to speak. We were also told he wouldn't eat and has been tube feed for 7 months, well on Easter Sunday he ate curry and hasn't stopped since!!!
We continue to pray for more but his being able to eat has opened a huge social life up to us, you don't realise how much socialising is based around food until you can't eat food so I'm hugely grateful for that.

So that hopefully, kinda summarises the last 8 months of our lives, here's to what the future holds.........

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Jazz & Swing evening on Friday 16th May

Jazz & Swing evening on Friday 16th May in Cheltenham to raise money to support Andy Blagden who is on a long recovery path after major surgery in August 2013. If you would like tickets to the event email jazz@blagden.net
Glevum Big Band are an excellent 12 piece Jazz band - the practice session was excellent so it will be a great event. Get your tickets asap!!