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
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. (www.niagaratherapy.co.uk)
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.
WHAT IS NIAGARA THERAPY?
Niagara therapy does medical devices certified to class llA certification.
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.