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.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Fundraising again!

For whatever reason Andy's pain has increased in frequency and he's taking the prescribed pain medication, Oromorph, more often than he used to. Oromorph is a form of morphine so this isn't a good thing and we need to find other ways of dealing with this.

Andy is under the pain management team at the hospital and one of the options they've offered is a Qutenza patch treatment. Qutenza is part of the anaesthetics medicines and is a patch applied at the hospital and then removed at the hospital and then it can work for up to 3 months! Andy has had one of these patches applied and we will be waiting to see if/how it works. 

Whilst this has potential to be good for Andy it's not a long-term solution, BUT, I have found something I believe will be a long-term solution: 
Niagara therapy. ( 
We already use a product of the Niagara range called a Niagara cyclopad for Andy's hands, fingers and arms. We have seen the benefit of this already in his hands in that they remain straight and pliable. 

Niagara therapy does medical devices certified to class llA certification.

NHC Cyclo-Therapy is a drug free treatment designed to help the body with its natural functions, mainly focussing on improving blood flow through the soothing effect of massage.

"Simply put, NHC Cyclo-Therapy is a three dimensional deep tissue massage. The massage effect is different to others on the market as it works in a radiating elliptical movement effect rather than a piston -like hammering motion which can aggravate the muscles and joints often doing more harm than good.

NHC Cyclo-Therapy operates rather like a gyroscope, creating a subtle, soothing, cycloidal (instead of just jarring) vibration. This is achieved by the fact that the multi-directional energy waves are moving north/south, east/west, while also actually rotating on a constant basis. The result? Deep, gentle, relaxing treatment, without any of those conventional side-effect worries.

This unique therapy is designed to promote the flow of blood around the body helping to soothe aching joints and muscles and reducing muscle tension all without the need for drugs, creams or ointments".

Having had a demonstration from the company we decided that this is what we want to go for for Andy but unfortunately it comes with a price tag, one that isn't cheap either. 

But, it also comes with the recommendation of Andy's OT in London, who was instrumental in bringing the therapy into the SCI centre in London and then the other SCI centres in the UK. 

So, why the title 'fundraising again'? 

Well............. I want to see Andy free of this chronic pain, I want to see him having better blood flow and oxygenation to his body which will bring benefits to his overall health too. But we can't afford the cost of one of these chairs all by ourselves so we are fundraising, again!

What are we doing?

I, along with our daughter, my twin sister, my dad and my brother-in-law and a family friend are doing the Aspire channel swim challenge. This involves us swimming 22 miles in 12 weeks or 1416 lengths of our local pool in 12 weeks. Or 118 lengths a week! We started in September and have so far completed 13 miles between us.

The aim of the challenge is also to raise money for Aspire as they are a spinal injuries charity that have helped us in the past.

Can I help?


please sponsor us for this challenge. I hadn't swum properly in the 3 years from Andy's operation until September where I then swam 1/2 mile. Katie is 12 and this is also a big challenge for her and my dad is over pension age, we have chosen to do a challenge that will be a challenge. There are days where I don't want to go swimming and I have to force myself to do it but the outcome is what I focus on.

How do I help?

Visit these websites: is our ongoing financial support page, all monies donated here will go towards the chair. is my swim challenge page, where all monies will go to Aspire.

Or leave a comment here or on my Facebook page and we can work out a suitable way, such as sending a cheque, if you would prefer.

Birthday present outing.

I don't know if it's because we're getting older, but I'm finding I like buying 'activity' presents rather that 'physical' presents  and they definitely suit Andy really well, so for his birthday last year I bought Andy a stadium tour of Aston Villa football club.

We went on it in October and it was a superb day out. The lady in charge of the tours was really very lovely and helpful, she would show the group where they had to go and then show Andy and his PA's where they needed to go so we could all meet up again. The tour was completely accessible so Andy was able to join in as much as the rest of us and the guide was very knowledgable about Aston villa and the history of the club and how it all works on match day. I'd definitely recommend a stadium tour if you're into football.

It's hard trying to buy presents for someone who has limited to no movement without buying the same thing time and again. An activity gift works well when thought out properly so that Andy can join in as much as everyone else and that is something that I strive to get right all the time.

Me, in the tunnel that the players go down to get onto the pitch.

Andy, me and his PA's at the press conference room

Andy on the pitch.

Andy in the stands.

 Trying on a hat, using a photo as a mirror!!!