In the beginning there was ....... HELL
My daughter (18) had a RTA at 0230 on 27th September 2012. We don't know the circumstances surrounding it other than she was driving and there was no other car involved. Her friend who was with her raised the alarm and paramedics, the BASIC doctor, police and fire were called. I was woken at 0400 with a phone call because they had been round to the house where her car is registered but couldn't get any response. They had my details from a previous incident she was involved in.
The BASIC doctor who was at the scene is actually our family GP and she could not have been in better hands. She was breathing herself initially but was unconscious. She was sedated and ventilated at the scene for transfer to hospital. The friend who was with her had managed to go for help and found a couple of Thames Water workers nearby. They helped the girls and probably saved Helen's life. They have since received recognition from their employer for their bravery. Helen's had several fractures in her spine (which had to be pinned) and a broken wrist/thumb (which has been fixed back together).
After the phone call from police, I tried myself to contact her father. I rang him several times and even went round and banged on the door. No reply. I drove to John Radcliffe to A&E by myself in a state of panic. I saw her before they transferred her up to Neuro ICU. She was covered in mud and tarmac. Her clothes had been cut off. She had blood all over her face and arms. That is not an image that will ever leave my mind.
She has a severe diffuse axonal brain injury (more on her right side where the base of her skull was fractured). She had a fracture to her pelvis, suspected fractures in her ankle and arm and contusions in her lungs. Her right pupil was dilated and her left one was slightly dilated but sluggishly responsive. None of these additional injuries were/are life-threatening.
The next time I saw her was in Neuro ICU. She was a mess. She had tubes coming out of every orifice. She has an arterial line in her wrist to measure her blood pressure. She has an inter-cranial pressure (ICP) monitor to measure the pressure inside her skull. Inter-carnial pressure, which initially read between 15-20mmHg reached over 50mmHg. They did all they could medically and the only thing they could do was go the surgical route.
At 1130pm it was decided that they had to perform a decompressive craniotomy and removed the whole of the top part of her skull. I didn't know whether she would live or die, I was a mess!! You can never imagine how you will feel when you are told your child might not make it through an emergency operation like this.
She pulled through the operation and kept under sedation for 5 days. They reduced the "deep sedation drugs" and just kept her on propofol (the general anaesthetic drug). When they took her off the propofol she kept spiking a temperature, her blood pressure went through the roof and her heart rate was about 160bpm!! She was treated for an infection, possibly in the central nervous system. Her left eye opened a tiny bit but there was no movement. She was supposed to have another CT scan but they decided not to do it because she made a few random movements.
This week she had a tracheostomy and a NG tube inserted.
She came off all sedation and is mostly breathing on her own, with some support and oxygen from the ventilator. She was on Fentanyl and will be changing to Morphine tonight. The painkillers have had some success in keeping her blood pressure and heart rate down. She is showing some signs of opening her left eye and making some uncoordinated movements with it. Her hands clench and her arms move upwards. Her legs have twitched a few times. She is yawning and coughs when she is suctioned. Most of the movements are either reflex actions or abnormal movements.
I don’t know how it will end. She was such a bright, gregarious girl who loved nothing more than socialising with her friends (read that as going out, having a drink and clubbing). Life will never be the same for anyone, anyone who knows her. A lot of people will be touched by this.