Sunday, 13 February 2011

Cheltenham for 16 weeks

When I arrived at at Cheltenham Acute stroke unit Aspen on Woodmancote Ward it was after 5.30pm on a Friday night and it seemed like everybody had gone for the weekend. Nik would not leave me until I had seen a Doctor. The Doc arrived, I looked at her and thought is she old enough to be looking after me, she looked like a surf girl and she was, she'd just come back from her home town of Newquay! During that first night I was joined by three other ladies, one the same age as me on her second stroke, a Scottish lady and a lady from near Broadway. 

The Aspen Unit was only built 18 months ago and is very nice, wards not too big and when I went into the rehab side I had my own room which was a bit like a Travelodge room. I made the room my own with all my lovely cards, flowers, and the anniversary balloons from the great nursing staff at Oxford JR. So I got to meet a whole new team of Doctors, nurses, catering and cleaning staff, OT was headed up by Juliette and PT headed up by Rachel.

The physio's wanted to see what I could do initially, assessed my progress, so we did some stretching to see how I was able to weight bear and feel the floor with my left foot.  Rachel and her team including Becky, Leeann and Kirsty started trying to teach me to walk by walking between the the physio tables we progressed from there to walking with the use of a pole with Rachel helping to place my foot, I called it pole dancing therapy just like in Oxford JR!

My left leg was getting quite swollen so I was sent for an Ultrasound scan and a clot was discovered in my common femeral artery in my left leg so I had to start wearing the lovely TED's DVT stockings to prevent anymore occuring and was put onto fragmin, injections in tum, and then warfarin (rat poison!) for 6 mths.

The OT team did some work on my left arm, as and when they could a nice aussie girl being extremely helpful, however one O/T CS famously saying very nonchalantly you won't get much more movement out of this, which only incensed me to prove her wrong - It was like a red rag to a bull! They also got me to practice jobs in the kitchen, whilst standing up, weight bearing on left leg to do some cooking making tea, toast and bacon butties! I loved doing breakfast club!

Whilst I’m talking about food, the hospital food wasn’t bad, however after 10 wks of the same menu I complained – much applauded by staff, and the head catering lady came to see me. The ward has a marvellous volunteer helper in Jane who looks after the daily menu’s with the patients. Jane brought me the a la carte menu – not like a restaurant standard, the general ward, which was great and far more choice.

Next thing I know the quality man comes to see me from Gloucester so I made some suggestions using my CM/CSE background it wasn’t rocket science really, like let the staff try the food because most patients will ask the staff what’s this like, what’s that like, let the staff know what menu’s are available when Jane’s not there the staff deal with menu choices.
Whilst I was in Cheltenham Nik heard of a great rehab centre called Oxford Centre for Enablement  via an old work colleague who had a stroke 3 years ago at the same age as me and he’d found it to be of immense help to his recovery. Nik completed a referral form and the Doctors at Cheltenham completed it and sent it off to the OCE.

Nik went to have a look round and at first impression thought it was a bit like One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest as there are a number of people there with various types of head/brain injury, so I’ll fit in very well then! And the stroke consultant did almost put me off, yes Dr D said it was for long term head/brain injury, they'd never sent anybody there, only serious head injuries. He said he couldn't see any difference in the physio there from what I was getting at Cheltenham! How very wrong did he turn out to be!

Mid October I got permission for weekend home trips, but no sleepovers, Rachel and Becky showed me how to get in/out of car using banana board and it was great to have the freedom. We went to the Rugby Club for a much longed for bacon butty! Lesley asked us round for a Sunday roast and as Nik hadn't had one since I'd had my stroke or no other offers from anywhere/anybody else we 'bit' her hand off and looked forward to the lunch date.

Nik overcame a fear of his by doing an abseil with one of his customers, Jonathan and the gang from Autoshades, abseiling from part of Twickenham stadium, Rachel and Lee anne two of the physio's also did it, Nik managed to raise over £2000, and I had a lovely surprise to see my great colleagues from Educare turn up with Caroline to cheer him on, Charles came down too to add his support, and it was great to see him.

There’s lots more tales I could tell of my time in Cheltenham, the staff there were absolutely marvellous they have to put up with a lot of abuse one particular chap punched and pinched them his family were fully aware of what he was doing as he was, taking verbal and physical abuse is not part of the job description one chap used to shout help all the time when he didn’t really need any help!
Whilst I was there Jen and Dad came to visit a couple of times, and it was great to see Cath and Dave too, a number of my old G4S  and Educare colleagues came too, as did friends from the rugby club. One evening we had a junk food treat a Pizza Hut delivery, pizza and garlic bread never tasted soooo good!
So I went in there on a stretcher, and with much determination I walked out of there using a stick on 3rd November.

After Cheltenham I then spent two months under the care of the local Intermediary care team helping with washing and dressing Ruth and Wendy led by a marvellous lady called Denny Beetson. I did some physio at Moreton hospital as well as going privately to a neuro rehab specialist physio Sarah Scott  in Stratford on Avon called Therapy Fusion  – very good

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