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hopefully final edit

2018

  1. 8 – 0the triathlon begins – 2018-02-01 12:17

August 4th, 2012
This was not going to play out well. Why did I have to do a triathlon on my wife’s birthday? But it was the local triathlon, and it would have seemed a shame not to take part. I’d been involved in helping to organise it, and I’d be back by one o’clock,  well tyhdt was the [plan Then we’d have a birthday lunch and give my wife her presents, the kids would be desperate to celebrate by then.  

And I would be back   by 1pm.  And so on a warm august morning driving up my driveway with all of the daffodil’s out either side of the driveway. Many just clinging to life   in the warm august breeze, off I  went  to my triathlon  married with a career and a family and a  very good life and all of his was to be removed from me   but not in one moment of madness but it was in  a series of 100’s of cuts
me   but not in one moment of madness but it was in  a series of 100’s and 100’s of cuts   and  cuts

Outside the sun was rising behind the church  tower and a warm August breeze came in through the window. As I lay in bed all I could hear was the sound of the E-number storm beginning and I did wonder what was the purpose of cutlery for the kids and also what was the point of a table, when in between the floor and their weapon of choice was not so much their mouth as a large space through which they could launch their food so that it would produce a perfect arc before it splatted neatly on to on to  a wall. I shut out the thumps and roars of laughter and went over the possibilities for today’s race in my head as I flung my clothes on.  I was hoping to finish in a good place; I wanted my son to see me do well after all the hard training that I had been putting in. I rather optimistically thought this would be a good learning experience for him to see that hard work can pay off. Downstairs I gulped a quick breakfast, gave them all a kiss on the top of their heads, and hurried out of the door to the start of the triathlon. It didn’t occur to me – – that I would never be coming back to this family again :but why would it.

On a normal day I would have already left for work by this time in the morning, to drive up to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth where I was a consultant physician in intensive care. It was a long drive but I absolutely loved the work, being able to help people and always being faced with new challenges. I had endless energy in those days and dozens of projects on the go: I was researching pandemic flu, as well as being an associate professor of ethics and law which meant I did a day a week teaching and researching. And after I came home, I was constantly planting new trees, building playhouses and zip slides in the garden for the kids – my wife used to ban me from going to the garden centre because she said my projects were out of control.

I jogged out to my car which looked more like part of an Indian wedding ceremony, completely covered in pink cherry blossom.  My wife refused even to get into my car without wearing some sort of CSI overalls because of the range of organisms that were growing in it. I had to concede, it did resemble a bacterial growth-medium plate from the microbiology lab, thanks to all the discarded apple cores and orange peel and pips.   Oh yes, and there was also the cow shit and mud from my welly boots for good measure…  and I am sure there was a sweaty running top in amongst the flora and fauna as well.  But I wasn’t interested in having a status car or any of that rubbish. I just loved being busy, helping people, enjoying my family and my life – it was all quite simple as far as I was concerned.

As I drove to the start line of the race, I was mostly thinking about the swim leg because that was the section of the race I was most nervous about. I never was that confident swimming and to try to compensate, I threw money at the problem and bought myself a new wetsuit or what I called a ‘gimp suit’.  All I wanted to do was to be in a position where I could get out to the front of the race, because I knew I could do well on the cycle leg. Followed up with the running I was hopeful that I could even build up a lead. I felt it all depended on the swim.

Quite soon I was standing on the start line with the rest of the gimps looking like a scene from a gimp film. I perused the water nervously, keen to get going because I really had been training incredibly hard for this triathlon – cycling at night after work, running in all weathers and I’d even bought a rowing machine to reduce the amount of training I’d have to do away from home. Finally the whistle blew and off we went. I took in a big breath and ran down the beach and as far as I could into the water before diving in. I was relieved to find myself in a position where I was relatively free of all the other competitors, so I didn’t need to worry about getting kicked in the face or somewhere worse. Then I was just swimming, seeing the sandy seabed slowly receding as we hit deeper water. I was out in the first group of triathletes and doing quite well.  I didn’t give a second thought to what I was doing, and I guess one never does.

At last the beach was moving slowly closer to me again and I was still in the top group. The swim had gone pretty well; I set off on the cycle leg in good spirits.  I pushed my brand new bike up the slipway and jumped onto it, powering up the long uphill section towards Rosevine. I always felt fantastic on this new bike, it went so quickly and felt great.

In Tresillian the route turned onto the main road from Tregony towards St Mawes, and wound along a typical Cornish country lane with high hedges, no verges and many blind corners. At the entrance to St Mawes we hit a section of road with a long, gradual decline where you can work up quite a speed. Being a competitive bugger, I’m pretty sure I would have been giving it my all, going as fast as I possibly could.

I remember none of this, incidentally. All I know is what I’ve pieced together from other people’s recollections. Near the bottom of the hill, I hit a puddle and spun out of control, and when a camper van appeared unexpectedly around the blind corner I crashed headfirst into it.

After that the drama began, even though I was completely unaware of it. The rescue helicopter landed on the road and I was loaded into it in a hard collar and flown up to Derriford. It would only have been five minutes or so later when I was handed over at the hospital to a team of doctors and nurses. The paramedics gave the lightening-speed handover that they were used to: I was a mid-thirties male competing in a triathlon, I’d suffered a serious head injury following an accident, I’d been stable throughout the flight. I was intubated and they’d got a size 14 gauge intravenous access, ie a drip in me, keeping me as flat as a pancake. They don’t want the patient suddenly coughing or making an involuntary movement.

The Derriford team raced me all covered in emergency equipment  into A&E where I was  quickly reassessed to check if I was still being ventilated OK and still had a blood pressure; a  flurry of activity as the  doctors and nurses  all did their respective jobs, checking I was stable enough to be transferred to  the emergency theatre. There, once again, a team of surgeons and nurses were already scrubbed and poised for me to arrive to begin operating.

Now the anaesthetist and the surgeon stepped forward, relatively relaxed because I was quite a straightforward case for them: all they needed to do was to lift off the part of damaged skull  and remove the bit of  obviously damaged brain (which in hindsight may have turned out to be quite difficult in my case). They had to ensure there was not going to be too much fluid on the brain, and what fluid there was had a way to drain out to prevent hydrocephalus (dangerous swelling of the brain) occurring.

Hey presto, as if I just wanted to ensure everyone was still awake, I had a cardiac arrest, and  I imagine that  put  the  willies up a few people, most  noticeably the anaesthetist. Thus there would have been two very distinct teams, with on one side the anaesthetist cursing me as he tried desperately to  get my heart  going again, while on the other, the surgeon was operating on the small section of my head, oblivious to the anaesthetist running around like a blue-arsed fly. If anything, he was probably quite pleased with the bloodless field that the cardiac arrest had caused – it made  their  work easier.

The strange thing is that although I was completely unaware of all this, I knew exactly how it would have panned out, how all the medical staff would have reacted to a situation like this. I’d been working on emergencies such at this at Derriford for five years or so, waiting scrubbed up in the emergency theatre for casualties to arrive. I’d be at the top end ready to anaesthetise the poor bugger. I saw a few head injuries and I knew the process well.

The operation took about forty-five minutes after which I was wheeled off to intensive care –  my own ward, where I was greeted by a picture of myself telling people to ‘wash their hands!’  –  not that  I would have been at  all recognisable , given my  newly-acquired, blood-stained turban and a heap of medical equipment all over me. And so once again my brief history was repeated, with a few extras: an accident whilst competing  in a triathlon, predominantly head injuries as best as they could tell. I’d  had  a  C-scan but my neck had not been cleared definitively and in theatre I had had  a cardiac  arrest  where my heart had gone  into  ventricular  fibrillation and they had  given me two shocks  with the  defibrillator.

And so the nurses, Marc and Pierre (a German, but with a French name that I ribbed him about mercilessly when I got the chance; which wasn’t immediately), set to work and got  me settled into the ward, no doubt  in rather a resigned manner.  Whenever a new patient arrives in the ITU, the staff greet them with a certain exhausted and hangdog appearance – their overburdened workload has just got even heavier. And yet they set to work with total professionalism, as always. And so I heard later, they were all pretty upset to see me turn up in such a state. It’s not great when a colleague suddenly becomes a patient.

By this time my wife had arrived at the hospital where she was greeted by the horrible sight of her husband in his blood-stained turban and a sea of lines, drips and emergency equipment. My parents were already heading for the airport in Melbourne to fly over to see me. Friends and family all over the place were mobilising, offering to help, to look after the children, and so on. I slept on, blissfully unaware. I’d survived this life-threatening trauma to the head. The swift actions of the paramedics, the theatre staff and the intensive care staff had saved my life. I’ll be forever grateful to them all, to their quick reactions and professionalism.

But little did I know that there were so many days to come when I would want to take my own life during the desperately slow and painful process of rehabilitation. Learning to talk and walk were only the beginning. Hardest of all was the realisation of the very different life that faced me now.

I started writing this when I returned home from hospital – purely for wrist-slitting-avoidance purposes at first, then to try and make sense of the car-crash my life had become. It’s only now, six years later, that I can see myself with a future.

Over the next months I’m going to be publishing a few articles that chart that progress.


the hopefully final edit

2018

  1. 8 – 0the triathlon begins – 2018-02-01 12:17

August 4th, 2012
This was not going to play out well. Why did I have to do a triathlon on my wife’s birthday? But it was the local triathlon, and it would have seemed a shame not to take part. I’d been involved in helping to organise it, and I’d be back by one o’clock,  well tyhdt was the [plan Then we’d have a birthday lunch and give my wife her presents, the kids would be desperate to celebrate by then.  
A new
A new beginning
  And so on a warm august morning driving up my driveway with all of the daffodil’s out either side of the driveway. Many just clinging to life   in the warm august breeze, off I went to my triathlon married with a career and a family and a very good life and all of his was to be removed from me   but not in one moment of madness but it was in  a series of 100’s andf 100’s of cuts
And I would be back   by 1pm.  And so on a warm august morning driving up my driveway with all of the daffodil’s out either side of the driveway. Many just clinging to life   in the warm august breeze, off I  went  to my triathlon  married with a career and a family and a  very good life and all of his was to be removed from me   but not in one moment of madness but it was in  a series of 100’s of cuts

 And I would be back   by 1pm.  And so on a warm august morning driving up my driveway with all of the daffodil’s out either side of the driveway. Many just clinging to life   in the warm august breeze, off I  went  to my triathlon  married with a career and a family and a  very good life and all of his was to be removed from me   but not in one moment of madness but it was in  a series of 100’s of cuts

 And I would be back   by 1pm.  And so on a warm august morning driving up my driveway with all of the daffodil’s out either side of the driveway. Many just clinging to life   in the warm august breeze, off I  went  to my triathlon  married with a career and a family and a  very good life and all of his was to be removed from me   but not in one moment of madness but it was in  a series of 100’s of cuts

And I would be back   by 1pm.  And so on a warm august morning driving up my driveway with all of the daffodil’s out either side of the driveway. Many just clinging to life   in the warm august breeze, off I  went  to my triathlon  married with a career and a family and a  very good life and all of his was to be removed from me   but not in one moment of madness but it was in  a series of 100’s of cuts
me   but not in one moment of madness but it was in  a series of 100’s and 100’s of cuts   and  cuts

Outside the sun was rising behind the church  tower and a warm August breeze came in through the window. As I lay in bed all I could hear was the sound of the E-number storm beginning and I did wonder what was the purpose of cutlery for the kids and also what was the point of a table, when in between the floor and their weapon of choice was not so much their mouth as a large space through which they could launch their food so that it would produce a perfect arc before it splatted neatly on to on to  a wall. I shut out the thumps and roars of laughter and went over the possibilities for today’s race in my head as I flung my clothes on.  I was hoping to finish in a good place; I wanted my son to see me do well after all the hard training that I had been putting in. I rather optimistically thought this would be a good learning experience for him to see that hard work can pay off. Downstairs I gulped a quick breakfast, gave them all a kiss on the top of their heads, and hurried out of the door to the start of the triathlon. It didn’t occur to me – – that I would never be coming back to this family again :but why would it.

On a normal day I would have already left for work by this time in the morning, to drive up to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth where I was a consultant physician in intensive care. It was a long drive but I absolutely loved the work, being able to help people and always being faced with new challenges. I had endless energy in those days and dozens of projects on the go: I was researching pandemic flu, as well as being an associate professor of ethics and law which meant I did a day a week teaching and researching. And after I came home, I was constantly planting new trees, building playhouses and zip slides in the garden for the kids – my wife used to ban me from going to the garden centre because she said my projects were out of control.

I jogged out to my car which looked more like part of an Indian wedding ceremony, completely covered in pink cherry blossom.  My wife refused even to get into my car without wearing some sort of CSI overalls because of the range of organisms that were growing in it. I had to concede, it did resemble a bacterial growth-medium plate from the microbiology lab, thanks to all the discarded apple cores and orange peel and pips.   Oh yes, and there was also the cow shit and mud from my welly boots for good measure…  and I am sure there was a sweaty running top in amongst the flora and fauna as well.  But I wasn’t interested in having a status car or any of that rubbish. I just loved being busy, helping people, enjoying my family and my life – it was all quite simple as far as I was concerned.

As I drove to the start line of the race, I was mostly thinking about the swim leg because that was the section of the race I was most nervous about. I never was that confident swimming and to try to compensate, I threw money at the problem and bought myself a new wetsuit or what I called a ‘gimp suit’.  All I wanted to do was to be in a position where I could get out to the front of the race, because I knew I could do well on the cycle leg. Followed up with the running I was hopeful that I could even build up a lead. I felt it all depended on the swim.

Quite soon I was standing on the start line with the rest of the gimps looking like a scene from a gimp film. I perused the water nervously, keen to get going because I really had been training incredibly hard for this triathlon – cycling at night after work, running in all weathers and I’d even bought a rowing machine to reduce the amount of training I’d have to do away from home. Finally the whistle blew and off we went. I took in a big breath and ran down the beach and as far as I could into the water before diving in. I was relieved to find myself in a position where I was relatively free of all the other competitors, so I didn’t need to worry about getting kicked in the face or somewhere worse. Then I was just swimming, seeing the sandy seabed slowly receding as we hit deeper water. I was out in the first group of triathletes and doing quite well.  I didn’t give a second thought to what I was doing, and I guess one never does.

At last the beach was moving slowly closer to me again and I was still in the top group. The swim had gone pretty well; I set off on the cycle leg in good spirits.  I pushed my brand new bike up the slipway and jumped onto it, powering up the long uphill section towards Rosevine. I always felt fantastic on this new bike, it went so quickly and felt great.

In Tresillian the route turned onto the main road from Tregony towards St Mawes, and wound along a typical Cornish country lane with high hedges, no verges and many blind corners. At the entrance to St Mawes we hit a section of road with a long, gradual decline where you can work up quite a speed. Being a competitive bugger, I’m pretty sure I would have been giving it my all, going as fast as I possibly could.

I remember none of this, incidentally. All I know is what I’ve pieced together from other people’s recollections. Near the bottom of the hill, I hit a puddle and spun out of control, and when a camper van appeared unexpectedly around the blind corner I crashed headfirst into it.

After that the drama began, even though I was completely unaware of it. The rescue helicopter landed on the road and I was loaded into it in a hard collar and flown up to Derriford. It would only have been five minutes or so later when I was handed over at the hospital to a team of doctors and nurses. The paramedics gave the lightening-speed handover that they were used to: I was a mid-thirties male competing in a triathlon, I’d suffered a serious head injury following an accident, I’d been stable throughout the flight. I was intubated and they’d got a size 14 gauge intravenous access, ie a drip in me, keeping me as flat as a pancake. They don’t want the patient suddenly coughing or making an involuntary movement.

The Derriford team raced me all covered in emergency equipment  into A&E where I was  quickly reassessed to check if I was still being ventilated OK and still had a blood pressure; a  flurry of activity as the  doctors and nurses  all did their respective jobs, checking I was stable enough to be transferred to  the emergency theatre. There, once again, a team of surgeons and nurses were already scrubbed and poised for me to arrive to begin operating.

Now the anaesthetist and the surgeon stepped forward, relatively relaxed because I was quite a straightforward case for them: all they needed to do was to lift off the part of damaged skull  and remove the bit of  obviously damaged brain (which in hindsight may have turned out to be quite difficult in my case). They had to ensure there was not going to be too much fluid on the brain, and what fluid there was had a way to drain out to prevent hydrocephalus (dangerous swelling of the brain) occurring.

Hey presto, as if I just wanted to ensure everyone was still awake, I had a cardiac arrest, and  I imagine that  put  the  willies up a few people, most  noticeably the anaesthetist. Thus there would have been two very distinct teams, with on one side the anaesthetist cursing me as he tried desperately to  get my heart  going again, while on the other, the surgeon was operating on the small section of my head, oblivious to the anaesthetist running around like a blue-arsed fly. If anything, he was probably quite pleased with the bloodless field that the cardiac arrest had caused – it made  their  work easier.

The strange thing is that although I was completely unaware of all this, I knew exactly how it would have panned out, how all the medical staff would have reacted to a situation like this. I’d been working on emergencies such at this at Derriford for five years or so, waiting scrubbed up in the emergency theatre for casualties to arrive. I’d be at the top end ready to anaesthetise the poor bugger. I saw a few head injuries and I knew the process well.

The operation took about forty-five minutes after which I was wheeled off to intensive care –  my own ward, where I was greeted by a picture of myself telling people to ‘wash their hands!’  –  not that  I would have been at  all recognisable , given my  newly-acquired, blood-stained turban and a heap of medical equipment all over me. And so once again my brief history was repeated, with a few extras: an accident whilst competing  in a triathlon, predominantly head injuries as best as they could tell. I’d  had  a  C-scan but my neck had not been cleared definitively and in theatre I had had  a cardiac  arrest  where my heart had gone  into  ventricular  fibrillation and they had  given me two shocks  with the  defibrillator.

And so the nurses, Marc and Pierre (a German, but with a French name that I ribbed him about mercilessly when I got the chance; which wasn’t immediately), set to work and got  me settled into the ward, no doubt  in rather a resigned manner.  Whenever a new patient arrives in the ITU, the staff greet them with a certain exhausted and hangdog appearance – their overburdened workload has just got even heavier. And yet they set to work with total professionalism, as always. And so I heard later, they were all pretty upset to see me turn up in such a state. It’s not great when a colleague suddenly becomes a patient.

By this time my wife had arrived at the hospital where she was greeted by the horrible sight of her husband in his blood-stained turban and a sea of lines, drips and emergency equipment. My parents were already heading for the airport in Melbourne to fly over to see me. Friends and family all over the place were mobilising, offering to help, to look after the children, and so on. I slept on, blissfully unaware. I’d survived this life-threatening trauma to the head. The swift actions of the paramedics, the theatre staff and the intensive care staff had saved my life. I’ll be forever grateful to them all, to their quick reactions and professionalism.

But little did I know that there were so many days to come when I would want to take my own life during the desperately slow and painful process of rehabilitation. Learning to talk and walk were only the beginning. Hardest of all was the realisation of the very different life that faced me now.

I started writing this when I returned home from hospital – purely for wrist-slitting-avoidance purposes at first, then to try and make sense of the car-crash my life had become. It’s only now, six years later, that I can see myself with a future.

Over the next months I’m going to be publishing a few articles that chart that progress.


there is no going back

THERE IS NO GOING BACK

There is no going backwards I feel so guilty because I used  to  have a career and  be  truly independent life and sure  I am completely  independent now  in terms of being able to look after myself  but l but I still do not  have a job and a not just any  job  but  a  career one which I could  be generous towards .my Trappe and my family  who have Been  so incredibly generous towards. me or at least amazingly  tolerant  of me and  all  of my requirements  which are  legion now  and to think  I used to   be someone that  was capable of inducing the emotion  of pride towards me and who I think  as andrew  AD. I there is nothing to be proud of   well my Trappee  is well and  truly infatuated by  me but I cannot help but think  how short changed she is being      by me every time I find  something  that I used to to do so easily almost without thinking   and the number of these things  are also l increasing I exponentially   and sure  I can do   most things now but to  do it  I need  to concentrate so hard now t it tsjkres away all  of the spontaneity of the action  to  complete the task is lost  I would describe it like  needing  the  concentration that a person walking across a high       but I am just turning around to say goodbye to someone who I am leaving but I deed  to  concentrate so hard on the task at  hand like 

someone walking across a high wire and I must say when my Trappee reasd this all she said, so am I to believe you feel useless   because I cannot turn around to  wave goodbye to someone

  and sure  as  I said I can do it  but I need  to prove  to myself , not to  someone else  but it is me   but this is  so much worse  because    it is myself I am trying  to  prove  it to. And I can tell you i am a very very hard task master. it is alot like my reading which  only recently I could do. I mean here I was a bloody doctor and I could not even read a bloody kid’s book. and I was determined to read again but I enjoyed reading[at1]  lying down at night in bed. But this introduced too much complexity to reading  esach line  on the page and although I could read I neded to [prove it to myself lying down there is no going back  for  me  I strongly believe  there  is no  going backwards in this life. and by god I   have  quite clearly  put my  mantra  to put  to the test


 [at1]

flourishing and determination i can sleep when i am, done

i Have To do something more, this must not be it:   it cannot be it   I am just so grateful to everyone:  for what they have done for me and not just for what everyone  has done   for me since becoming andrew AD,

   but in more ways, even more importantly such as when I was andrew BC   but this cannot be everything. And it is for these reasons and also my exceedingly strong sense of responsibility and there  is  a reason to be  good and to flourish. so where one has an option to flourish and can flourish   then one has a responsibility to do just that and by flourish I am using Aristotle’s definition: it is the highest good of human endeavours

And it is interesting. Tht the only people who re not overly surprised at thow well I have done are my friends  from school and my parents . but by Christ they do not have any idea how difficult it has been

 now to my mind work is a good thing and indeed if we think about work it is where we spend almost 50% of our time well it certainly is where we aspend50%

 and if we take this to its logical inclusion

  by the time, we have turned 30 we  have been  sleeping for 10 years

10 years of our sentient lives by choice.  if we divide up our day into thirds ie. 8-hour sections. we sleep for at least 8 hours generally so this is equivalent to almost a third of our day and if we extend this out to years then by the time w have turned 30 then we have been sleeping for 10 years. I mean just imagine when  you  turn 30 someone coming up to you and giving you a present of 10 years of life   now it gets even more amazing  if you think of Our first 8 years if life is essentially a child when we are not really making  any choices  for ourselves     .and the second 8 years are at A  school of our parents choice. And again, we are not really making any choices for ourselves. Again,

 and the next 8 years we are finally making our own choices. Such a do We go to university or not   or who do we  shack up with this person or not, so you can see we have been truly living for a very short time  by the time we have turned 40. And i do think this is the reason  I  am so  desperate to have another career . and I just have to have another career I  must do this . God godamnmit I am not done yet   I can sleep when I  am done

can intelligence be taught and what is the difference between humans and bacteria

 Can in intelligence be taught or learned now I have had to relearn everything and I mean virtually everything; and I guess if  I had to  to teach intelligence  I  would start with sceptical  inquisitiveness

 the only difference between humans and bacteria: necessity is the mother of all invention: and   bacteria do what we do by written word and communication bacteria do by dividing some more to a different or more resistant order of   bacteria.

 but to elaborate some more: snd yes i can her you sigh as if he would ever be brief when describing the bleeding obvious: the greatest invention is not the wheel or the engine it is writing; having a technique of passing down information to the next generation, what we have learned In  this generation so that  they can move on or forwards  and not  waste their time ,making   the same mistakes

on being disabled

On being disabled: now I was suddenly rendered disabled from competing in a triathlon. I went suddenly to being wheelchair. Bound; and my reflections of being in this predicament were as follows. No one flirts with anyone in a wheel chair: and  ones ability to  work at any   side  board Was also severely curtailed, because one coul;ld ultimately not get close enough to the  side board  we  irt wa and also, not being able to use my left arm meant i was still unable to move. and my god I member being in my kitchen which was quite large. and I could not even get from one end to the other. becsausae I kept turning or veering off to the side no   matter how hard I practiced and the level of frustration.  Almost broke me

I was so deeply depressed I had gone from running a triathlon to siting in a hair that could supposedly move but I could not even do this .and all the while my wife was leaving me and taking my kids with her

 Well I can tell you this did not do anything for my mental health, as I sat in my dam chair in a   silent house As I veered off to hit the wall again. And then I would repeat the effort again. And once again I hit the wall. in my silent house