stammerheadshark * blog about living with an acquired neurogenic stammer

What actually happened to me…

This’ll sound really silly and super-clumsy, but then again anyone who knows me wouldn’t be surprised at my ability to carelessly bump in to things.

Seriously, my legs are usually covered in bruises and I have no idea where they come from.

So, clumsiness aside, I accidently bumped my head in the shower (nothing unusual for me!) on… Sunday 1 February 2009…thought nothing of it other than my head hurting a bit, and then pottered about before my boyfriend and I set back off to Leicester from Southport (my hometown) ready to go to work the next day.

Other than feeling a little woozy (not so peculiar after a fair old whack to the head), I didn’t feel any different so went to work the next day. I then woke up to a cracking headache, unable to move for nausea and intolerant to any light or sound on the Tuesday morning and rang in sick to take the day to get myself back to normal.

Feeling able to return to work on the Thursday, I then discovered my legs had gone numb at my desk by lunchtime and couldn’t move. My boss kindly bundled me into his car to go to the hospital where they eventually told me that the knock to the head I’d had days earlier had caused concussion and it was just delayed in taking effect. I was sent home, told to rest and take painkillers and that there was no need to worry. Pah.

It’s at that point that things started to get scary. My speech had remained normal until then but over the weekend it slowed to a grunty robot voice. I rang in to work again on the Monday morning to tell them I needed to go and see my GP, who then refused to see me saying I needed to go back to the hospital.

Clearly disturbed by what was happening, I felt pretty out of control. My limbs weren’t behaving as they should have been, my mouth wasn’t coordinating with what I wanted to say anymore, my head had been pounding incessantly and was impervious to painkillers, I hadn’t slept for over a week, and I’d developed an incredible sensitivity to sound and light. I felt utterly helpless, and all I could do was cry.

A really nice nurse looked after me as I was admitted onto A&E again, reassuring me that it was okay that I couldn’t get any speech out, letting me write and asking my boyfriend various questions to determine what to do for the best.

Anyway, the nice nurse ended her shift and I was quickly forgotten about. Understandable on a ward where bleeding members of the public were being wheeled in every five minutes.

A girl who’s knocked her head days ago is a seriously low priority in the scheme of things. so they finally decided that they didn’t have enough beds left and they’d observed me for long enough (I’m not sure who was doing the observations because we were there for about 5 hours and only spoken to a couple of times) to discharge me back home.

“Go on, go” they told me – only to look completely confused when I said “Aren’t you going to use this suture you’e injected into my arm for something? It’s been in for several hours. Or at the least please could you remove it?” They’d had no idea. So they just took it out and sent me off with a prescription for another bundle of painkillers.

So I went home, back to work and tried to carry on with life. No one seemed to have the time or be willing to help, and more importantly – no one seemed to know how to help.

The head pain didn’t get any better, my speech was becoming more and more robotic and stammery – I literally couldn’t inject any intonation in to what I wanted to say. It was incredibly distressing and all anyone (family memers, work colleagues, GPs – I saw quite a few of them on rotation at my local surgery) could say was “Why haven’t you been scanned yet?”

So a GP decided the best thing to do was to have me admitted to the hospital to stay; I’d be under observation from nurses who had the time to pay attention, doctors specialising in neurology and head injuries, and could be scheduled in for the necessary scans. This was on the 18 February, weeks after the head injury.

I was there for 4 days, and by god did they feel like the longest days of my life. All around me elderly patients wailed and moaned whilst waiting to die, talked to themselves, and inevitably pissed themselves.

Nurses too overworked to be patient with them only exacerbated the problem, as their short tempers reduced little old ladies to tears. I found it difficult to complain, as I personally had nothing to complain about.

Although my speech no longer worked as it was meant to, at least I could wash and dress myself, could go to the toilet by myself and feed myself – to the nurses on shift I was no bother. They pleasantly chatted to me, before turning around to speak to dotty geriatrics with contempt in their voices.

I don’t even think that the nurses were aware of their behaviour; there were simply people there on the ward who, through no fault of their own, made their jobs harder. This annoyance was just reflected in their actions. Like the school teacher who tires of the annoying kid in the corner and tolerates them until the end of the working day.

So eventually I got the results of the MRI and CT scans through; one showed a deep lesion in my brain caused by the head injury in the shower, and the other showed an incidental cyst (nothing to worry about apparently, every 1 in 2000 people has it and never knows it’s there).

The results inconclusive and the consultant unsure what to do more, I was discharged with yet more prescriptions (all of which barely touching the pain but running up an almighty bill – I must have spent around £250 on prescriptions over three months) and told that my GP would be receiving a letter asking to refer me to a speech therapist and that I’d receive a letter about a follow-up appointment in the post. According to them, I was able to return to work in spite of everything – so that’s exactly what I did.

***This could turn out to quite a long story, so I’m going to update it over the next few days.***

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