#1: A Sudden Turn of Events
Updated: Feb 27, 2021
Firstly I want to thank you for engaging with my story. It has been 7 weeks since I was first taken into hospital, and I am now at a point where I feel as though I can start documenting my journey.
Side note - I have been wanting to write a blog for a while now. My intention was for this to be a travel blog - for those of you that don’t know, I have always had a passion for travelling. My boyfriend and I actually have plans to go travelling for 6-12months in the future. So at the start of lockdown I wanted to create this blog as a space to document my previous experiences of travelling - so that it was up and running before Richard and I eventually set off on our big trip to explore the world.
Whilst I thought it was just Corona that had ruined this year, the worst was yet to come… and now here I am, lying in a hospital bed at Queen Mary’s ‘Wolfson Rehabilitation Centre’, learning how to walk and use my left arm again. This isn’t a sob story (and I genuinely mean that), but plain and simple, that’s how it went.
Before everything went downhill…
To get the boring bits over and done with. My name is Georgie, I’m 22 years old, I graduated from the University of Birmingham last summer and have been working in London for a travel company ever since… but like the majority of people working in the travel industry, I’m currently on furlough.
From a young age, all the way through to my teenage years, you’d expect to see me with a netball in hand, leaping over hurdles or running around an athletics track. In fact (not to blow my own horn) but I received sports scholarships at both my secondary school and sixth form college! Whilst I enjoyed all sports, I thrived in netball and athletics, competing at county level in both. I’ve always been the competitive type (something that’s really helped me throughout my time here so far). In more recent years I said goodbye to team sports and became more invested in exercising for myself and took pleasure in a lengthy walk with a friend, or a good old run around Horseshoe Lake!
Alongside taking care of my physical health, in more recent months I have realised the importance of my mental wellbeing and spent time getting to know parts of myself that perhaps I neglected being the busy child I was. For me, being furloughed during lockdown was a great opportunity to sit with my thoughts and begin to understand myself better - I can assure you I had “downward dog” mastered and can read quicker than ever before! I think now is the time to plug my most favourite book “The Choice” by Edith Eger. I truly believe in the mantra “everything happens for a reason”, and I can honestly say that having read this book before facing my trauma changed my entire perspective.
It’s so good it deserves it’s own subheading.
In ‘The Choice’, Dr Edith Eger shares her experience of the Holocaust and the remarkable stories of those she has helped ever since. Today, she is an internationally acclaimed psychologist whose patients include survivors of abuse and soldiers suffering from PTSD. She explains how many of us live within a mind that has become a prison, and shows how freedom becomes possible once we confront our suffering. She explains that we always have a choice, “We don’t know where we’re going, we don’t know what’s going to happen, but no one can take away from you what you put in your own mind.” This book is life changing. Warm, compassionate and infinitely wise, it is a profound examination of the human spirit, and our capacity to heal.
I finished this book already grateful that it had come into my life (thank you Megan for the recommendation), but little did I know it was preparing me for what was yet to come.
What happened next?
It was the day of my sister’s 20th birthday. And aside to the aftermath, what a lovely day it was. (Sorry again Lilly for ruining your bday...)
In real lockdown style we spent the day as a family, kickstarting the day with a boozy brunch and ending with beer pong, pizza and pin the tail on the llama. All very merry, mine and Lilly’s boyfriends arrived for cake & cocktail making. Richard decided to stay the night (oops, sorry BoJo, it was for the best in the end) - once again, everything happens for a reason. As we were getting ready for bed, I experienced a sudden horrendous headache at the front of my head - what I later found out to be called a “thunderclap headache” - followed by extreme nausea. Richard tried to help me to the bin so I wasn’t sick all over myself, but during this time I had already lost all control of the left side of my body and collapsed onto my bedroom floor, hit my head on the fireplace and knocked myself out. Honestly, thank God for my boyfriend in all of this because who knows where I’d be if I was by myself.
I was continuously vomiting for what felt like forever (all over my mum and Richard - sorry guys) and once they realised this wasn’t just an episode of “drunk Georgie” they called an ambulance and the paramedics were at my house within 20 minutes. Still tipsy and mildly concussed, I was so confused as to what was happening... I honestly thought maybe I was too drunk and that the paramedics were coming to pump my stomach.
Not long after, I was being stretchered out of my bedroom and down the stairs in classic Georgie Hennah style *peace sign up, tongue poking out*. The rules and regulations of Covid-19 started from here really as I was taken to Frimley Park Hospital in an ambulance by myself. Blissfully unaware, I was about to start this entire journey to recovery on my own. On my trip to A&E the paramedics were certain I had undergone a bleed on the brain (a stroke, yes a stroke at just 22 years old). After hearing this I felt surprisingly calm, not sure if this was due to the alcohol, or the nature of paramedics that made me feel better.
Frimley Park Hospital
20 - 21/05/2020
I arrived at a hectic A&E, greeted by what seemed like hundreds of nurses and doctors, porters and radiologists who were all wearing masks and glaring down on me in my hospital bed. At this stage it still wasn’t too clear what the cause of the stroke was, all I could hear were complicated medical conversations among the distressing sounds of a busy hospital (continuous beeping, panicked voices and people being wheeled around left right and centre). With all this going on, I couldn't help but worry when the next time I would be able to see my family again.
My time at Frimley is all a bit of blur, but I can remember being taken in and out of scans like there was no tomorrow. Aside from the banging headache that was caused by the bleed, I couldn’t help but feel the hangover starting to kick in… I remember gasping for water but the nurses weren’t letting me eat or drink anything in case I needed surgery immediately.
At this point, it started to sink in that I was completely unable to move the left side of my body. I couldn’t even wiggle my fingers or toes. The reality hit home when the nurses helped me out of bed to take me to the toilet. This was a challenge in itself as my left limbs were like dead weights, and the strength of my core seemed to have vanished. They left me in the bathroom to do my thing, but as I was sitting on the toilet my whole body dropped to the left almost falling off. I felt like a life-size rag doll and after struggling for a few minutes but still unable to help myself up, I had to call out for help.
My mum finally arrived (after successfully persuading the hospital to let her in) and there was talk of me being transferred to St. George’s Hospital in London. This was exactly what happened to my Nannie 17 years ago (who sadly passed away in February) so whilst this was a super unnerving time, I felt weirdly close to her and my gut was telling me everything was going to be okay. If she could do it then so could I.
I felt lucky because my Dad and Richard also got to see me before I was moved off A&E and onto the stroke unit whilst I waited to be transferred to St. George’s. This was supposed to happen at 4pm the next day, but I had to wait another 5 hours for patient transport to arrive. Something I’ve learnt during my time here is to be patient. Everything takes so much longer than you anticipate in hospital.
The paramedics were amazing and whilst abiding to social distancing rules we timed it so my family could wave me off in the ambulance before my big departure to St. George’s. I didn’t know when the next time I would see them again.
My time at St. George’s… to be continued in #2!