Bilateral Medullary Infarct

Because there are gaps in my memory due to drug induced unconsciousness or deliriousness I have asked my family for input, so from time to time their story will be added in italics, I had no idea of the nightmare they were going through especially in the early day of my illness.

06.02.11. Flight home.

               

It is always very sad leaving Sarah and her family with lots of tears, hugs and more tears. We flew back to the UK by Royal Brunei Airlines, which is a dry flight (no booze), so we spent about an hour at the bar in Perth Airport Departures drowning our sorrows. Having said that, everything seemed normal under the circumstances. However, later I was to discover that on the next bank statement that Jeannie received there was a withdrawal of $500 made on my debit card within departures at Perth. My debit card was still in my wallet when Jeannie collected my belongings from the hospital but there were no dollars.

 

The flight to Brunei was uneventful, apart from a young guy in front of me who put his seat right back while I was eating dinner. He got a taste of Jeannie’s wrath. We had about three hours wait in Brunei refuelling, then set off on our next leg to Dubai. The flight took off in the late evening so we settled down to sleep.

 

At some point I woke up and said to Jeannie “does my face look funny to you”. She answered “no”.  At that time I was feeling pins and needles in my face but did not feel unwell.

 

A few minutes later I needed the loo and excused myself to Jeannie. At that point I did feel a bit strange but thought it was me still waking up.  It wasn’t till I was finished on the toilet and tried to stand up that I knew there was something wrong, but the furthest thing from my mind was that I was having a stroke. My legs felt as if they had lead weights tied to my feet and as I walked down the aisle my legs got heavier.  It felt as if I had old fashion diving boots on.

 

When I sat down I could still feel pins and needles in my face. I mentioned this to Jeannie at which point her face went white as, when I spoke, my voice had a slur to it.  It was then that I knew what was happening to me and, strangely, I felt no fear. There was no pain only this strange sensation that I was loosing control of my faculties and I couldn’t do anything about it. It was like looking and hearing everything from a distance, very strange.

 

It is my memory that Jeannie pressed the button for help. She asked for the chief steward, who at first offered some paracetamol. I can remember Jeannie’s voice changing tone at this point demanding something to be done like call for a doctor, which they did.  After the third call an Australian doctor appeared and said that I should be moved so that I could lie down and be examined. I was swiftly moved into business class. I can remember being helped, as, by now, my limbs were slowly giving up on me. I remember the doctor saying “he is having a stroke.”  However, I certainly don’t recommend having a stroke in order to get a free upgrade. It all seemed so simple, I thought that I was fully aware of all that was going on on the aeroplane, but now I know I wasn’t.

It wasn’t until a year later that I found out all that happened, through reading a letter of complaint to Royal Brunei that Jeannie had sent in April of 2011. This letter gives a clearer and more accurate account of the events of the night my changed the course of my life as it is.

 

Extracts from Jeannie’s complaint

On 5th February 2011 my husband, and I boarded Flight BI68 Departing Perth International airport at 12:00 noon and arriving at Bandar Seri Bagwan at 17:20. We then boarded flight BI97 Departing at 21:10 due to arrive at London Heathrow at 06:40 (06 Feb). This flight was due to have a stopover of approximately one and a half hours in Dubai and was due to land in Dubai at 01.15 local time. The flight from Perth to Bandar Seri Begawan was uneventful.

 

During the flight from Bandar Seri Begawan, at approximately 23.15, local time Dubai, my husband began to feel ill and his condition began to deteriorate. I informed the Purser that my husband was ill, described all his symptoms, and said that I suspected that he was having a Stroke.

 

At this point the purser asked me what I wanted to do. Having never had this experience before I had thought that he may be able to tell me what he could do. He then asked if I would like him to ask the Captain to radio ahead so that there would be a Doctor and wheelchair waiting at the aircraft when it landed. I said “yes”.

 

Over the next 30 minutes my husband’s condition deteriorated to a point where I had grave concerns. I contacted the purser again, described my husband’s worsening condition, and he again asked me what I wanted to do. At this point I was experiencing a heightened level of stress and had hoped that Royal Brunei would have procedures in place for handling such a situation. The purser then asked if I would like him to put out a call to see if there was a Doctor on board. Over the next 10/15 minutes two calls were made asking for a Doctor.

 

After the second call a Doctor identified himself and conducted an initial assessment of my husband before asking the purser if my husband could be moved to business class in order that he could do a more thorough examination.

 

After this examination the Doctor said that my husband was having a stroke. The purser reiterated that he had made a request for a Doctor and wheelchair to be at the plane when it landed.

 

By this time we were close to Dubai.

 

Some ten minutes later an announcement was made that the plane was in a holding pattern over Dubai because of traffic and the landing would be delayed by approximately 30/45 minutes.

 

 

When the plane eventually landed all the other passengers were offloaded first, and it became clear that there was no Doctor in attendance, only a wheelchair and an attendant. My husband was made to walk to the wheelchair in order for him to be offloaded. At this point the Royal Brunei staff handed over to the wheelchair attendant and did not accompany us onto the concourse.

 

We were then taken onto the concourse of Dubai airport beside the Gate (I believe it was 103) and a cafe crowded with waiting passengers. We waited approximately 5/10 minutes for a team to arrive. They appeared to be the equivalent of Ambulance Assistants in the UK i.e. unqualified individuals who had been given some training in use of medical equipment, but no extensive training in assessment, diagnosis and treatment.

 

For approximately ten minutes these assistants asked questions and examined my husband, in front of a gathering crowd, as his condition deteriorated further. Eventually I was placed on a motorised vehicle with a stretcher attached and my husband was pushed in the wheelchair to Dubai airport medical centre.

 

In the Medical Centre his condition deteriorated to the point where he was slipping in and out of consciousness. He was eventually transported to the NMC Speciality hospital in Dubai where scans revealed that my husband had experienced a Bilateral Medullary Infarct,( a bleed onto his brain stem)

 

ICU Dubai

At some point I awoke to find my nephew Stephen bending over me saying something that I cant remember, I thought ‘what’s he doing here’ then I remembered that he works in Dubai, he and other medical staff were trying to move me onto another stretcher, I believe that I was strapped in as I found out later that I did a lot of thrashing about, I was then placed in an MRI scanner, I remember all the noises but very little else.

 Steve Kings recollections:-  Eddie and Jeanie had just arrived and I met Jeanie outside where she tried to explain what had happened. I remember we must have met a thousand nurses and doctors and she recounted your medical history about a million times. Still don't know what the purpose was...

 

Then they brought you through to the MRI and I saw you for the first time. That was the worst. Until that point I was fairly calm, and confident. Everything would be fine, I just needed to keep calm and be there for Jeanie while the doctors sorted everything.

But it was awful. I remember you were making hard breathing noises and were twitching continuously.

 

The staff steered you up into the MRI room, there was a steep ramp and I thought they would have trouble pushing you up it! I was actually happy at this point - I thought they would test you and find the cure and all would be well. It looked like something out of Starship enterprise,

Then things started to go awry. They asked me to come and enter the machine and help move you onto the bed. We lifted the sheet - damn you were heavy. But we moved you gently enough. Then I went outside and we met the doctor where Jeanie gave briefed him on your medical history again - I could almost join in at this point!

 

Then we waited, and waited and waited. I can't remember if I helped you back on the gurney or not. The only thing I can remember is the doctor sitting us in his office and explaining it was a brain stem stroke...

 

I didn't realise how serious it was. Jeanie was so calm and collected through it... he might have said you had a cold, or grazed your knee. I was expecting him to prescribe a couple of aspirin and send you home...

 

I wish it was so simple, a couple of aspirin and go home. When I finally woke up two days later  a doctor was by my bed asking me how I was managing I remember looking at him but my body wouldn’t respond my mind was willing but I couldn’t talk then all of a sudden I could see all these pipes coming out of my mouth and something was up my nose, I could feel myself breathing and new it was the machine doing it for me I must have looked scared and my breathing became laboured I remember the doctor twiddling with the machine, have you seen the film Abyss when they used a new technique using a liquid that you take into your lungs for breathing I thought that that was happening, I thought my lungs were filling with liquid so I tried to relax and let the machine breath for me my breathing became easier. I must have dozed off again at that point for my next memory was John and Sarah standing by me. I can only remember short bursts of reality and most of it is very clear I remember them looking at me and trying to encourage me but I couldn’t respond my body was just not working. Apparently they were talking to me when my eyes reacted to something they said, Sarah said to John, he is in there and they proceeded to write the alphabet on a sheet of paper we spent a number of minutes going from line to line for me to spell the word ice, my lips were swollen and cracked and that’s all I wanted ice. They went to see a nurse and spent the next few minutes rubbing my lips with ice. We spent hrs going through that alphabet at least that was what I thought and often we had to start again because they either got lost with what I was trying to say or more often than enough I couldn’t spell the word, for those who know me that was nothing new. I would blink once for yes and twice for no as I couldn’t move anything else.

 

 

Delusions

I had many delusions, two of which are still vivid in my mind. First is the giant moth like insect on the ceiling near my bed I thought that the ceiling was a large electronic fly zapper killing insects that landed on it only this insect was getting closer then it stopped I assumed that it had finally died. Each day there were more all in a line and heading my way but I knew that the electric ceiling would stop them but I couldn’t help staring at them as like I said they were large. However on my discharge day I was pushed to another room on the way out I was able to have a closer look at them and I realized with relief they weren’t insects they were fire sprinkles Phew.

 

The other I still maintain it happened but Jeannie disagrees! This is what happened – One day I noticed out the corner of my eye this woman dressed in full Purdah came floating past, I don’t mean floating in the air it was like one of those stage acts where you can’t see the ladies legs moving as they move across the stage, well one day the woman sat on a stool near me and started to talk quietly to me she knew my name and went on to say words that had me scared she was telling me to go home but said that the plane I would be taking will take me to hell where none Muslims belong or words to that affect. She would also stand on the opposite side of the curtains while I was being cleaned up talking about me to the nurses it was pretty freaky. One day she handed a wad of cash to the sister it turned out to be a tip as another very official looking lady came in later and dished out envelopes to the staff everyone was very excited.  Did I imagine it? 

 

There were some good moments one in particular was when one of the nurses was washing me she started it sing quietly “How Great Though Art” she had a beautiful voice I wonder whether she was my angel?

Jeannie informed me at a later date that one day while in a shop with Stephen she got very upset, the female shop assistant asked if everything was OK  when she heard what had happened she called her sister and offered prays she also said that she would inform her friends and they will pray for me, this lady was in Purdah God certainly works in  ways we cant understand.

 

Every so often a nurse would stick a tube down my throat which would make a strange gurgling sound, I found out later that the were sucking my lungs out this happened often through the day and night and this procedure went on for the next five months. 

There was also lots of pain, for a many years I have suffered with arthritis in the big toes  and a worn knee cap in the right leg, when I was been changed the nurses would move my legs by grabbing my feet, the pain was excruciation and I would cry out, but, there was no sound and my face showed no sign of the  pain I was feeling, then at one point my knee became very sore which made every movement, I used to think “ why can’t they hear me surely my eyes are saying everything they couldn’t though.

 

Then it dawned on me that the nurses were often changing me, I became very embarrassed as they I was wearing a big nappy and I was often pooing myself and I was catheterized. How did I know, well because I was being fed the tube up my nose the bed was always raised to 45’ angle so I could look down at myself ( I spent the next six months not able to lye down because of been fed and watered by tube) when they changed me, what a mess and I had no control. I hated it the pain, the embarrassment the shame of being exposed to all in sundry and young nurses wiping my bum etc. My bed was opposite the nursing station one day I could hear the nurses discussing changing me and who was going to do it one nurse called me “The smelly old man” they didn’t realize that I was aware of most things that was going on around me. That statement has stayed with me to today. Then it was decided that they would be able to clean me better if I was shaved, without asking or tell me what was going to happen they proceeded to shave me. Again the pain, shame, embarrassment as they shaved first my front then turned me and shaved my bum even now I cry at the thought.

 

I had no idea about time but it must have been about four days when the decided to take me off the ventilator and perform a  tracheotomy on me, I can remember The consultant telling me that he was going to turn the oxygen off to see if I could breath on my own. I remember making sure that I did saying to myself Breath Edward Breath, the next thing I remember was that I no longer had pipes coming out of my mouth but I didn’t know myself that I had a tracheotomy  until the nurse came with the suction tube and stuck it down my throat via the trachy tube to suck out all the gunge.   

After nine days I was classed well enough to fly me home, though, I understand that they could not guarantee I would survive the Journy.    

 

Latest comments

21.09 | 21:07

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04.09 | 03:01

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