Hi! I’m Matthew
Start Of Events: Saturday 25th January 2014
Felt unwell and remember getting a delivery of hay for our horses around 12.00 pm.
I had to excuse myself to vomit behind the stables, and our delivery man said to Stephanie (my partner, now my wife) that I didn’t look well at all.
That’s the last I remember after that for about 3 weeks and only then things were patchy.
Stephanie says she made me lay down on the sofa as she thought I had a bad flu coming on. She says I got worse that evening, and woke up in the morning complaining that I had a strange weakness in my legs and she thought I had “man flu”!
Sunday 26th January
Stephanie went in and out of the house on the Sunday morning / afternoon to check and deal with our horses, and kept coming back in to check if I wanted anything. None of which I remember.
She tried to give me some paracetamol in the afternoon but I had trouble co-ordinating my hands to get them into my mouth.
After helping me take them she went out to the horses and returned 20 mins later to find me in a very confused state half on the bed. So she rang an ambulance.
The paramedic thought I’d had a seizure that I was slow of coming out off as I had been diagnosed with epilepsy in 2009. So an ambulance crew was tasked and I was taken to Antrim A&E. My wife was told just to come along when she was sorted out as I would be getting checked out by the doctors and that she could have a bit of a wait.
Stephanie arrived about an hour after I left from the house…At that point, I was in resuss fighting for my life.
The A&E staff tried to get me an ICU bed asap, but none were available anywhere in N.Ireland, however they got me one in Craigavon.
Monday 27th January
My son was sent for as I was in such a serious state, and they were told to expect the worst. I was unconscious.
The transfer team came from Craigavon in the early hours of the Monday morning 27th Jan and I was given a police escort with the ambulance to Craigavon. As to when the diagnosis was made we are still unsure, but antibiotics must have been started very quickly.
The consultant at Craigavon ICU told my wife of the diagnosis at that point, and that I had started to go into organ failure. At this point I was still unconscious, intubated and on life support, I then had a tracty put in.
Stephanie says that the whole situation was so frightening that it was like someone Else’s life she was watching. I can only imagine what the sight was like, I worked previously in theaters in hospital’s, and was a trained medic in the army.
When it happens to someone so suddenly, the family things go into meltdown. Especially so for Stephanie, as I was the one who did the most simplest of day to day things.
Stephanie found herself faced with the central heating breaking down the day I went into hospital. Also the gas bottle for the cooker ran out the next day. She was so distressed by what was going on with me that she didn’t know who to call to get the heating repaired, or how to change the gas bottle.
All the simplest of tasks, but when you get used to someone else doing them and then things go wrong, it can be so daunting.
I spent the next 18 days in ICU but don’t remember much about any of it because I was still unconscious.
I have some memories / flashbacks, which may have been when the sedation was being reduced. Like strange memories such as things from my childhood and my bedroom with all these machines in there. Also thinking that the staff were all robots.
A very strange time.
I was transferred back to Antrim after ICU, and put in a critical care ward. I don’t really have any real memories until around the end of February (a full month after first taking ill).
I kept telling Stephanie that she was an imposter to Steph, and kept quizzing her about simple things. Like where certain items were in our house and when she answered them correctly I would accuse her of breaking into our home!
But, I did keep telling her that she was very nice and if I told her I loved her would she give me a lift home to see Steph!…Most likely the drugs!!!
The only person I really did recognise was my daughter Erin (then 12).
3 Months In Hospital & Then Rehab
I then spent 3 months in Antrim Hospital.
I needed to be spoon fed, toileted, washed etc – as I couldn’t do anything for myself.
After antrim I spent until the end of July in Whiteabbey hospital in rehab in their stroke unit.
When I was finally allowed to go home with a lot of pleading with staff, I still couldn’t walk…No-one could tell me why not!
Our living room was turned into a makeshift hospital ward, with a hospital bed, steady, commode, highchair, frames etc.
It was to be a few months longer until I was able to take even a few steps supported by Stephanie. I have had so many falls they are too many to remember.