Thursday, April 30, 2009

Letter to England

2008 was a “Holy Mackerel” year for us.

It is exactly a year since I was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis a rare neurological syndrome caused by inflammation of the spinal cord. ( One day I was well, the next I was paralyzed from the 4th vertebrae below the neck, cause completely unknown. It took them 3 weeks to diagnose it. I was unable to eat and drink for a month. So I spent last April, May and June in hospital. I was struck very hard and lost total motor, sensory, bowel and bladder and there is nothing they can do for you. June 12th I was released to the tender loving care of the family. Not able to feel or move a muscle below the breast (I did have the use of my arms, and through out this I felt well!)

Harriet was in her final year at Newcastle reading English and graduated on the 8th July 2008, we had planned to all attend, that was clearly out of the question. While I was in hospital Suzanne had a horrid time, working, trying to manage my company, looking after the boys and visiting me in hospital (10 mile drive each way). She spent at least 3 hours with me every day. When I was released I could tell she was frazzled! And really needed a break. She should go back to England and the boys would just have to look after me.

Richard was 15 (now 16) and Joshua 13. Some of the things they had to help me with are right out of the realm of a teenager! We had a lift put into garage so I could get my wheelchair into the house. I would never have guessed how expensive a good manual w/c was - >6000 dollars! They had trained me to transfer in and out of the wheelchair but I needed a transfer board to help me, and when I did my first transfer in the bed Suzanne had prepared for me in my study I got it all wrong and fell! Great start, luckily Richard was able to catch me and I came to no harm.

Our home is very poorly set out for a paraplegic! All the bedrooms and bathrooms are either down or up a floor, so I was left to have a show on the deck!

Well I found I had some true friends – four of my JP Morgan buddies arranged to each spend 5 days with me while Suzanne was away! So I did have adult supervision and someone to drive to therapy! 3 flew from NY and one from London. I was so proud of the boys they were marvelous and did all the heavy lifting for three weeks. Suzanne and Harriet arrived back on the 15th July and pooph! The boys were just dust – gone almost to the second the car pulled up outside.

In August Suzanne took me to the beach… we had three weeks there and Harriet lead the program! 30 mins to build upper body strength and then an hour in the pool! And then the moment slowly began, first a toe, then a knee.

By October I could wobble and was able to once more get upstairs and have a bath! It was a major effort but super worth it.

In November the sensory side changed, clearly my nerves must have been repairing but the brain mixes all the signals and I was just in a sea of pain! This has continued since and is the major challenge, but I have felt just the last few weeks that this two is improving.

Today I went to the Quail Hollow golf tournament here in town to watch Tiger and Vijay play the pro-am. I was able to drive myself! I had a golf car to drive me around – I have come a long way and as we enter May 2009! I am sure I am going to be able to resume my life this year. I have booked a cruise in feb 2010! I plan to be at least 90% by then.

Harriet is doing a masters at Durham and comes home for good in July. I am really looking forward to having her around after 8 years in the UK. She has applied to Law school, we will see.

Richard has a job serving dinners to the old folk but I doubt he will go to college. Joshua is great and goes to High School next year.

I closed my business in june 2008 and therefore am now unemployed! All a major disaster.

As for 9-11, we live in Charlotte 650 miles south of NY so there was no reason for me to be anywhere close. My business at that time had crashed and burned in the internet bubble and as a result of a board room coup I was out of my own firm. (the company is still going and doing ok and may do well out this current mess). I had been offered a job in NY and flew up to start work – my first day was Tuesday 9-11 2001! I landed on a clear blue morning at Newark airport and caught the bus/shuttle at 8:20 am to the World Trade center where my new employer was located!. Yes you guessed it I never got there but had a birds eye view of the whole thing. I was unable to get home until Friday. The firm was on the 25th and 55 floors – one person died, the rest got out!