A New, Greener Life in Scotland

Could you help give my family a chance to live a more fulfilling life?

My name is Louise, and like many others, I dream of being elsewhere. In 2008 I was at the precipice of my adulthood. Twenty years old, with my first full time job, the prospect of moving out and a future to look forward to. Life was good. It had taken me almost two years of job-hunting to finally find employment, but I had made it. In October, everything changed.

I'd been to my opticians—a regular eye test, although I had been complaining of headaches and blackouts to my doctor for over a year—who discovered my retinas were detaching. I was referred for a CT scan and booked in for the very next day: October 31st, 2008. The CT scan caused the doctor concern, who ordered an MRI and I was taken straight down for my scan. It was then that I knew it was serious; the waiting time for an MRI was approximately 8 weeks at that time.

My results came back and I was diagnosed with Aqueductal stenosis Hydrocephalus. As a result of this illness I have had repeated brain surgeries, leaving me with lasting disabilities and brain damage.
When I fell ill I lost my job and the future that it represented. Being able to move out and gain my independence, taking my place amongst the adult working world was now beyond my reach.

My first operation was on November 3rd, 2008; an attempt at an Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy which was unsuccessful. This was followed closely by the second round of surgery on November 5th to insert a VP shunt and a length of tubing to drain my CSF down into my abdominal cavity.
I was in and out of hospital due to my shunts failing and having to be replaced many times in the months that followed, until in March 2009 when things took a turn for the worse.
I was admitted to hospital for yet another shunt replacement, but my health deteriorated. I slid down the Glasgow Coma Scale all the way to the bottom and scoring 3; I was no longer responding to pain nor any other stimulus. There were several times between March 2009 and February 2010 that it looked like I'd lost the fight.
Things had gotten so dire that doctors informed my mum—on two separate occasions—that because of my condition they would not resuscitate me, nor put me on a ventilator.

Thankfully, it didn't come to that.

Mum brought me home on February 16th, 2010. I don't remember much of that time; I was barely conscious, couldn't see much more than blurred colours, couldn't communicate or swallow and was incapable of any movement. I was broken.

Fast-forward to today, five short years later. The road of my recovery has been long, difficult and often painful. I remember being told by doctors that I would likely never walk again, and to not expect too much from life. I've had to deal with spasticity in my arms and legs, muscle wastage and damage from the operations themselves. I've learnt to see again and to communicate, to sit and move and even to walk a little. I've re-trained my motor-skills so that I can do those things that so many take for granted such as having a drink or feeding myself. How I am today is the best I have been since October 2008.

The reality I live with is changeable. I have good days where I can participate in everyday activities, and bad days where I can barely see or struggle to walk or control my movements. Even on my best days my mobility is limited. If I am to leave the house I always do so with company and in my wheelchair.
My mum has been, and continues to be, amazing. She is my full-time carer, helping me with the things I can't manage alone and doing others for me. I'm not able to live alone, so I live with my mum and youngest brother.
We have all dreamed of living out of the city, and fell in love with Scotland on our recent visit. We have found a property which would suit all of our needs perfectly, and offer a quality of life not available to us in Nottingham.
Having enquired about a mortgage, I encountered a problem. The amount the bank would willingly lend does not cover the house price. The only way they would lend more would be for either myself or my mum to get a job.

Despite looking for suitable work for months, there are no jobs with the flexibility mum needs so that she can still care for both my brother and I. However, while we were on holiday in Scotland, mum was made an offer of employment. One with the flexibility to allow her to still care for me, but also to earn a steady wage.
My youngest brother has Asperger's Syndrome, and although he is becoming better at socially interacting with groups, he still becomes overwhelmed in the crowds you so often get in the city. He is a bright young boy who is full of enthusiasm. If we are able to make this move up to Scotland, he would have access to better educational facilities and also gain a freedom he cannot have in the city.

Another thing we long for is to live a greener life. At home we are already growing our own herbs and vegetables in tubs, but would like to take things further by collecting and using our own renewable energy through solar panels and a small wind turbine.
The property we are hoping to move to has enough outdoor space for us to keep ducks as well as extending our own produce with poly tunnels. This will be of benefit to all of us, for several reasons. Firstly, fresh fruit and vegetables are a healthier alternative to their shop-bought counterparts. Secondly there is also the benefit of learning self-sufficiency for my brother, and the opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint. There are the benefits of cleaner air and a supportive, friendly community where-having only visited for a week-we all felt comfortable and at home.

That's where we need your help.

We are looking for £50,000 to put towards the cost of the house and moving expenses. With only my disability benefits, mum's carer's allowance and no scope for earning more, we are stuck.

The money raised here will change each of our lives for the better. It will bring health, opportunities, employment and a chance to become something more.
But I don't want to take your money. Being so grateful for the opportunity to be the best versions of ourselves as possible, we would happily pay back all the money lent to us, but it may just take a while.


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Louise K. Smith 
Nottingham, East Midlands, United Kingdom
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