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, 26 June 2015

Cadbury world

Our BIG trip out was to Cadbury world! Very excited kids and equally excited grandad too! We were booked in for a tour in the afternoon so we had enough time in the morning to get us all ready. I went over to Andy's and we packed up the van with Andy, kit, PA's (personal assistants) and 1 child and 1 grandparent in 'charlotte' and me and 2 kids and the other grandparent in my car!

Cadbury world was incredibly busy, but then it was half term! 
We had a lovely picnic lunch made by my mum before going in for the tour. First stop on the tour is the free bars of chocolate, for 9 of us, hmmm very tempting to start off with! The tour was very good and really quite inclusive too, there was very little that we could do that Andy couldn't which is, now, a really good day trip for us. The one big bit Andy couldn't do was the Cadabra cars, that was because his chair was a few inches to long. Andy was gutted by it, not so much because of the ride as he has done it before but because he was going to go on it with Nathan and also because it showed him the barriers that will face him in the future. The good bit for Nathan was that Kym, a PA, took Nathan on another car whilst Will brought Andy down to the rest of us.

One of the best bits of the tour is the liquid chocolate with extra toppings on which we all got to partake in, Andy twice!! The PA's also got to join in with the activities going on but also still ensuring Andy's safety. I feel that we have a very good working relationship with all Andy's carers and it's great that they do join in with us and also feel at ease to work with each situation as it arises as in Nathan riding the Cadabra car with Kym, else he'd of missed out! 

So a good day was had by us all and we got home by just about 8pm to be greeted by the night staff taking over!!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Andy & a peregrine falcon

Bigman Littleman

As a lot of you know Andy is a trustee of the Tom Roberts Adventure Centre in Newent that my parents are centre managers for (Please see the link to the right) and that hosts the 'Dads and lads' camp that he is a co-founder of. 
In 2014 he couldn't have anything to do with it as he was in ICU in Gloucester.

This year I was determined he would have some involvement in it, which he did with one of the planning meetings. I also wanted to get him there but didn't know how and it gets hard work looking for transport for him when the same 'no, can't help' answer arises. It's also hard to keep asking our friend with a WAV as he has it because of need not pleasure so when I'd spoken to our London  OT (see previous post) and then to the charity and found they had a free vehicle for half term and the very weekend of BMLM, it was a no-brainer. 

On Saturday 23rd May, with glorious sunshine to boot, I turned up at Andy's house with Katie, Hannah and Nathan and 'Charlotte' at 11ish expecting to help get ready to go to BMLM for 2pm, but no, he was all ready and raring to go so we set off for camp, around midday! Andy was very excited to be going and it was written all over his face. It was slightly marred by having 2 female SW's and ME with him that day as he has always made it clear that BMLM is a 'man' camp!!

We arrived to see everyone getting out the lake from raft building and in time for 'tin-pot' surprise lunch. This is where you make a fire to cook on and choose tinned food that has no labels on it, hence the surprise, and that's your lunch. I'm sure if Andy wrote about it there would be a far better explanation!! I handed him Nathan and, with friends and his brother and nephew, left him to it to sort lunch out. Nathan had a baked bean sandwich, so I'm told as Andy made it clear I needed to disappear and he even told his SW's off for talking!!

Later on was the falconry display which I didn't disappear from. ( seriously wasn't going to miss that). Andy's brother Pete helped look after Nathan with him whilst I snuck in and watched. It was a beautiful display of birds flying, and the kids and adults alike were encouraged to 'fly' the birds. Andy got to have a falcon sit on his arm, at which point I jumped out and took a photo thus dashing my sneaky sneaky hiding but hey, photo opportunity beckoned!!

Andy spent until 7pm at the site, and just before leaving he was presented with his BMLM T-shirt. He was very tired but very satisfied and the whole effort of getting the bus was, for me, completely justified.


Nathan at Swindon train station, waiting to go onto Paddington!!

Half term

HALF TERM: a short holiday in the middle of a school term - Collins English dictionary definition 

My children's definition is: please provide endless amounts of entertainment laid on for us as we are VIP's

My definition: frantic race to think of things to do with the family, ensuring we are still sane at the end of the week and without spending the prerequisite fortune and with the added challenge of the activity being able to take place within a 1/4 mile radius of Andy's house OR not involve their dad. Any ideas, Morrisons anyone?????

Well, thanks to a timely conversation with the London OT, I found out about the Barbara bus fund: and was able to borrow a wheelchair adapted vehicle (WAV) for the half term week. BUT, I had to go to either Stanmore, Stoke Mandeville or Sheffield to collect it. I chose Stanmore for obvious reasons but also its a journey that can be made entirely by train (until the last mile!)

So I went up to London on the 22nd May with Nathan on the 9:30am train from Gloucester carrying a suitcase and a car seat because I had a bunch of stuff to return to and Nathan needed a car seat for the return journey. The suitcase had a load of poles sticking out of it as they were to big for it - we looked interesting!! Nathan was very well behaved, especially getting from Paddington main station onto the tube with me having my hands full of stuff and not holding his hand, but he is a seasoned undergrounder now!!

All the vehicles are named after a friend or family member of the charity's founder, Barbara Werndly and the bus we'd hired out was called Charlotte!

So Nathan and I drove back to Gloucester via some stunning countryside in Oxfordshire and the 'little chef' restaurant on the A40, getting home around 7pm and picking up my niece and daughter enroute. Long day but very worth it!