On the left, is a picture of me and my husband Geoff from November 2018, all dressed up ready for a going 'out out' evening. On the right is me and him on 15th April 2019 in Queens Hospital. Why you might ask? Well let me tell you our story and ask that you please share this page far and wide to help raise awareness of the catastrophe that struck us 13 weeks ago. Geoff was a very fit, 48 year old man who adored and worked hard for his family as most of us do. He went to the gym 3 times a week, didn't have high BP or cholesterol, never smoked, ate reasonably healthy and drank alcohol in moderation. On 28th March, I came downstairs to find he had had what we very quickly discovered to be a severe and life threatening stroke. Due to the life threatening swelling of Geoff's brain, in the early hours of Saturday 30th March, he was blue lighted to Queens Hospital in Romford where he was resuscitated on arrival and immediately after, underwent an emergency life saving decompressive craniectomy to relieve the pressure from his swollen brain which was pushing against his skull. As a result he now only really has the right side of his skull and a little on the left. He remained in Neuro critical care for 12 days, narrowly avoiding a tracheostomy before being transferred to the acute ward at Queens Hospital where he stayed for 6 days before he was transferred back to our local Broomfield Hospital on the acute stroke ward. He remained at Broomfield for 4 weeks before he was finally transferred to a specialist neurological rehabilitation unit in London where he remains and will probably do so until October 2019. Hopefully, during the next few months, Geoff will undergo a cranioplasty to replace his missing skull.
Geoff's progress so far has been simply astounding. He has some speech which is improving every day as is his understanding...... sometimes! He can play games, he can draw, he can sing, he can feed himself and most importantly, he can say 'I love you'. The three little words that are thrown around so much but not always with real meaning. Our road ahead is a majorly long one and one we never dreamed we would travel as this wasn't how our lives were 'meant to be'. Geoff and I have only been together for 11 years and married for 9. He truly is my soulmate and my best friend and the most wonderful Dad to our 3 children.......the man I had been searching for all my life.
The reason we wanted to set up this 'go fund me' page for Geoff was that now reality has set in and we have gone from 'this isn't how our lives are meant to be' to 'this is how are lives are going to be', we have finally come to the realisation that Geoff and our family are going to need all the support we can get, not just emotionally and practically but also financially. We are extremely proud people who have both worked full time all our lives and it would break Geoff's heart knowing we had to do this, as it does ours but the true fact is that without this financial support, Geoff would not have access to the many things that he will need in the future. As a result of his stroke, Geoff has been left with severe deficits, albeit he is surpassing anything the doctors thought he would be capable of. He can now walk with the aid of support from a physio and the feeling is slowly returning in his right arm. His more major deficits are his speech and language; his understanding and ability to communicate above anything that is 'inbuilt' in the brain is very impaired (dysphasia). His brain damage is extensive but despite this, he continues to battle and make himself and his family proud every day. The first 6 months after a stroke is where survivors and their families see the most progress and thankfully, Geoff has been given the NHS neurological rehabilitation opportunity early on which has supported his progress so far, as have we as a family.
As many of you know who may have been unfortunate enough to have travelled or still travelling our road (god bless you all), there is not much on offer beyond this in-patient rehabiliation and it is widely known, although not often believed, that survivors 'reach a plateau' after two years. Geoff, like you all, deserves to not just be a statistic and more needs to be done to highlight the importance of long term continued recovery after in-patient rehabilitation...... this will be my next mission! Many people have messaged us to highlight the need to keep pushing for help once Geoff is away from in-patient rehabilitation and back with us at home, however with only short term NHS rehabilitation in the home being offered, it is unlikely that Geoff will be anywhere near reaching his maximum potential without additional support. With the right help, both practical and financial he can continue to improve way beyond this time period which is why we need to now start thinking about raising much needed funds to support him to achieve this so that he can have access to services that are very sadly, not offered on the NHS. As amazing as the NHS are, we know all too well, they are in crisis and the funding is simply not there to offer anything long term which is what Geoff will need.
We all breeze through life, thinking we are invincible, me included and it's not until something devastating happens to you that you realise how much you are 'on your own', that is until I set up Geoff's journey (or army as I now call them!). We truly love you all and cannot begin to thank you all enough. Also, to our friends who have been there when we needed them the most...........we feel truly blessed. They say money can't buy happiness and Geoff and I never needed it to have the kind of relationship that we had because money can't buy that. However, what it can buy is security.......security for his future in order for him to achieve his maximum recovery potential to hopefully become the man he once was. The law of averages says that Geoff shouldn't still be with us, but we thank our lucky stars every single minute of every day that he is. He has fought for his life and now he is fighting for his and his family's future.
We would be so eternally grateful for any amount of money or support received so that Geoff can become 'this man' again. He is a light in my darkness and my inspiration for everything I do. I promised the life saving team at Queens that one day, we will take Geoff back and he WILL walk through those doors, stick or no stick because we owe him that for everything he has given me and our family. We feel as though we have gained an extended family over night and we have visions of each and every one of them standing there cheering him on as he takes his first steps.......Let's make this happen!!! In the mean time we thank you all in advance for any help you can offer and let's all give a #thumbsupforgeoff #geoffsarmy
Thank you and god bless you all x