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.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Andy at C3 fete!

A busy 2 weeks!!

So...... Andy moved to The Dean on Tuesday 17th June. Moving day went really well, Andy was up and ready to go on time, transport was on time for collecting Andy, our good friend Paul came to collect Andy's stuff and off we all went. I was a bit teary leaving the safety of the hospital and everyone who had cared for Andy and for us, but leave we did. Well....... Andy and his nurses left quite easily but Paul, I and Andy's stuff were left waiting for a lift to arrive,  it took 10 minutes to arrive and get downstairs one level so by the time we got to The Dean the transport ambulance was gone and Andy was waiting in the lounge!!!

Andy has a room and ensuite bathroom and windows. Why mention windows, surely that's obvious. Nope, in the hospital he didn't have a window to look out of so it's highly exciting to have a window that has a view and can be opened too!!

That first week was all about settling in, meeting new staff and getting to know them and them getting to know us, Andy especially. This is not easy at the best of times so when you can't speak it's not easy at all but the staff have been wonderful, reassuring all the way. I have had 'nervous relative' syndrome for that week and have been checking in frequently that Andy has been ok. Andy has also been nervous and this showed itself through Andy's swallow becoming much more difficult to the point where he was choking with each meal and not being able to complete a meal. He and I got worried he was going to be put back onto brown slushy mush feed.
With help and the nerves lessening Andy has been able to get his swallow back to much more of what it was and so is onto food again. He has a back up plan of a supplement feed to keep his nutrition as it should be if he is not well or fatigued ( fatigue effects him greatly and therefore effects his muscles, thus effects his swallow) but he hasn't needed to use it very often, thankfully.

These last 10days have involved working out how best to do things for Andy, so some of that involves doing things and then tweaking it to suit Andy. Simple things I take for granted such as showering, take a lot more planning for Andy but it's done as if it's nothing for the staff. They are quite happy to work to Andy's best and not what's convenient for them. I know we will have lots more different care plans to make but I feel that this won't be a problem as they seem to be very
willing to listen to my opinions and Andy's opinions.

The most exciting thing that has happened this week is Andy going out properly for the first time and not to a medical establishment. Our church had their fete today (28/6/14) and due to amazing friends we were able to get the necessary transport for Andy in his chair, his ventilator, his carer, his emergency kit: crash bag, portable suction machine, oxygen cannister, extra suction piping, tracheostomy care  kit and blankets.

We had a lovely time being family, Lauren was running a stall with a friend making smoothies to raise money for Andy, Nathan was hitching a ride on dad's lap and Katie was having a go on all the stalls. We won on the raffle and chose a games compendium to go with Andy to The Dean. Andy had a really good time out but was knackered when he got back but the staff had saved his tea and Andy perked up enough to eat it and then went to sleep. It's been a good day and it feels like moving forward is really happening.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

10K42A team

Racing times!

In January a very good friend of ours said he wanted to give towards andy's expenses/needs ( long-term things like wheelchair, adapted vehicle, house re-fit etc) but also wanted to show Andy what he means to him so decided to run a 10k race. He then opened this up to anyone and 15odd people (not odd odd obviously, totally amazing peeps) joined him in training to run 10k. 

The race took place in westonbirt arboretum on 9th June, so off went; racers, their families, and friends to cheer on everyone who had trained so hard. 

It was an awesome evening and I was glad to have taken all the kids with me, they thoroughly enjoyed it. It was exciting to cheer everyone on, not just our guys but we cheered anyone- we stood by the finish line so we could see everyone. Lauren and her friend stood at the halfway mark cheering people on which I know helped them as well.

The total money raised is at least £1300, most if that raised on a youcaring page (search for 10K42A) but also done the old fashioned way through sponsership forms!! 

A good evening had by all and for Andy, the knowledge that so many peeps care is priceless!!  

Saturday, 7 June 2014

A little blip!

Last weekend- 31st may- I went up to Salisbury for a course run by the spinal injuries association (SIA) on housing needs to allow me to start to think about what we need done to get Andy home. I took the children and my mum and stayed at my sister's house in Fordingbridge. I rang the hospital Saturday morning as usual and was told how Andy had had a choking fit necessitating the use of oxygen- he's not used oxygen for a couple of months- and, in consultation with the docs, was going be to be nil by mouth for the day. This also prompted the speech and language therapy (SALT)  team to see him again, more on that later.
So..... Back to Salisbury, not really in the mood for this course any longer and having walked 30mins from the park and ride (it was further away than the map made it look) I was feeling rather glum. The course was useful but sitting in a room full of disabled people who were so newly injured served only to add to my darkness rather than boost myself up. Still, as I have 3 kids no time to wallow...... I walked back to the car, this time took 45 minutes and went back to my sister's house.  Took the kids out to the play park with a paddling pool in and found my smile again- phew. Not a weekend I want to repeat in hurry!

So SALT came on weds 4th June, including a lady from frenchay who had done tests on Andy previously, and basically put a camera up his nose and down his throat to see what happens when he swallows. For Andy this is not a nice procedure and immediately showed he has a good gag response. As yet we haven't heard what the results are of the video are but SALT left him saying to carry on food and drink wise with what we've been doing. This is a relief as eating is such a sociable thing to do and nice to taste things too and adds structure to Andy's day plus Andy loves his food!!!
It goes to show how fragile things still are for Andy and that we still need to be ever so careful.