Letter: Our wonderful health service saved my life

Praise for the National Health Service.
Praise for the National Health Service.

In these days where many seem to feel the need to either knock or pour scorn on our NHS, I thought I would write and let you know what a wonderful job we feel they are all doing.

I have always maintained a very good level of fitness and, over the last few years, have helped a friend to raise funds for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance by completing charity bike rides. You can only imagine the shock felt when I suffered a stroke on December 4, 2015.

On the morning of this fateful day, I had been helping as a volunteer at Jubilee Park at Fangfoss. On returning home later, I remember feeling a little chilled and that nagging head ache had returned! So I lay down on the couch with a blanket.

Later that morning our eldest son, Simon, popped around with the grandchildren. He could not gain entry to our home so, on looking through the window and seeing dad lying on the couch, banged enthusiastically on the window.

Simon described dad falling off the couch and stumbling into a nest of tables before banging his left side on the sitting room door frame as he approached the front door. “Dad, are you OK” said Simon. “Yes,” I replied.

However, Simon noticed that I was slurring and on walking around the house, being quite unco-ordinated. He immediately rang my wife, Gev, to enquire if she had finished work, to which she answered: “On the way home now, why?” “Because dad is not well and you need to get home quickly” was his reply. When Gev entered the sitting room, she knew something was wrong as I looked very ashen and the lefthand side of my face was drooping. She remembered the wonderful NHS advert from TV that describes the symptoms of a stroke and the immediate action required if SHE was to save as much of her husband as possible. She rang 111 and described what she was seeing; they despatched an NHS First Responder vehicle and paramedic.

The paramedic, on arrival, took one look at me and said: “I know I have not even touched you yet mate, but I am calling for an ambulance; you are off to hospital, you’ve had a stroke”.
From this point on, I am reminded of the sequence of events by my wife, sons, family and friends.

I was taken by ambulance to York General Hospital and given an MRI scan that determined I had suffered a bleed on the brain. When my condition had not improved after 24 hours, they gave me a second MRI scan. The latter scan picked up a second bleed.The consultant invited Gev to hospital to inform her that I would likely die without invasive surgery to stop the bleeding and, even if the bleed was stopped, he gave me a 50/50 chance of good recovery.

As the only hospital within reasonable distance with the necessary skill was the Hull Royal Infirmary, I was put into an induced coma and ambulanced to Hull.

On December 6, the consultant told Gev there was now an urgent need for surgery.Thankfully, I made a quick and remarkable recovery and was soon transferred to York General Hospital.

As I sit here constructing this letter, I have completed a number of walks, one of which was eight miles long on Rievaulx Moor. I also am now able to sit on my cycling turbo trainer for up to 40 minutes at a time as I hope to get back onto the Yorkshire Air Ambulance fundraising trail later this year.

I believe fully that my current relatively healthy disposition is down to my son and wife’s very timely early diagnosis, our brilliant NHS and its staff both doctors and nurses.

My connection to this excellent team did not end on my discharge from the York General on December 29. The follow-up after care has been second to none. I have had frequent visits from the community nurse, occupational therapist and physiotherapist. I have had appointments made on my behalf to attend the Pocklington Surgery and also visit the York General Hospital to have time with my consultant and to have a follow up X-ray and an MRI Scan. There are some who argue that there may be problems with our NHS, however, my experiences have left me feeling amazed at how hard they are all clearly working to paste over any cracks that may be appearing and how professional they all are.

To the people who found the funding to produce and run the very simple yet brilliant ‘FAST’ advert; to the fantastic NHS team, my family, friends and, of course, the countless others who remain nameless but have nevertheless helped me, please accept my most warm and sincere thanks.

Dave Nichol
St Martin’s Close, Fangfoss