My name is Yvonne Rossiter. I am a 28 year old secondary school teacher from County Wexford.
On an average day in March 2015 I was in work and I felt a strange pain on my right hand side. After multiple trips to Wexford General Hospital and multiple diagnoses from possible collapsed lung to chest infections, I was told I had a Pulmonary Embolism, which is a blood clot in your lung. To dissolve this clot & to prevent any future clotting I was placed on an anti-coagulant called Warfarin for a six-month period. I had to have blood tests on a weekly basis in order to ensure that I was on the correct dose.
School broke for the Summer holidays & I was having the time of my life. I had a truly amazing family holiday to Iceland in July, spent the August bank holiday in Mayo with friends and was really excited as my parents were due to have a joint 50th birthday party on August 8th but unbeknownst to me, this was not meant to be.
I met a close friend for lunch on August 5th and I remember getting home that night but that is now the last thing I remember for a few weeks. I went to bed that night (August 5th) and overnight developed a large intracerebral brain hemorrhage, due to the Warfarin. I was rushed to Vincent’s University Hospital the following morning where they gave me vitamin K to counteract the blood thinning effects of the Warfarin. I was then rushed to Beaumont hospital and on Friday August 7th 2015 I had a Craniotomy, and was then placed in a medically induced coma. A piece of my skull was removed during the procedure & this was placed in my abdomen to keep the piece of bone alive & sterile.
When I woke up at the end of August I was convinced I was still in Iceland, which in a way was great as I had an extended trip! Unfortunately, my memories of this new portion of my trip were mine alone and my family had not had quite as good a trip as I had! My body took some time to adjust after waking up and I couldn’t understand why my body couldn’t do simple things like it used to, I couldn’t hold my balance or even sit upright in bed, I couldn’t read the smallest of articles or hold a pen , all things needed for teaching! As someone who is quite driven and organized, this was a very frustrating time but I was determined to get back to myself as soon as humanly possible. The first date I can properly remember was my mothers Birthday (August 19th). I had to get a friend to write on her birthday card for me but through physio & occupational therapy learnt how to read write & walk again, something which I was extremely nervous about as the piece of skull was still in my abdomen!
The staff in Beaumont hospital were outstanding, the team that looked after me from my neurosurgeon to all the nurses and careers on Adams McConnell ward were second to none & I will never be able to repay them for all they did for me.
I was sent back to Vincent’s hospital and stayed there until September 5th when I was sent home. This is when my recovery definitely accelerated as there is something about being finally able to sleep in your own bed which recovers some confidence. I returned to Beaumont on November 2nd to get the bone flap put back in place and I was home two days later. I had an extremely fast recovery from such a bleed and I returned to work before the Christmas holidays in late December 2015. I could have taken more time off work if I had of wanted to but I was so ready for everything to go back to normal & I was so happy I went back when I did. I knew I was ready.
Recovery is not just a physical process but also psychological. As I write this article is it the one year anniversary of my brain hemorrhage and being completely honest it’s very emotional writing all this down for the first time. As I have been focused on getting life back to normal, it is only now that I am realising what I have overcome in such a short space of time and I am so proud and grateful to have recovered as quickly as I have.
My intent with writing this is to show that whilst recovery times vary, there is always hope that life can return to normal in a relatively short space of time, although it may be hard to envision it when asking friends and family to read and write for you. Last year on August 5th I was in the middle of a fight for my life, whilst this year I was sitting on the Giants Causeway feeling the most comfortable I have ever been within my own body & mind.
I had a fantastic network of friends and my close family around me, which definitely helped with recovery. I am also certain that ensuring I kept a positive mindset and goal in mind kept my recovery going at speed. Very early on in my recovery I had given myself the goal of being back to work before Christmas break, and I could not be happier that I managed to reach that goal.
So, to conclude I suppose one of the main things I have taken from this experience is that whilst life is unpredictable we are still the drivers of our own ship, and even if your ship takes you on a coma tour of Iceland while family and friends worry at your bedside, there is still hope of a return to not only normality, but the ability to live the best life you can. I certainly intend to do so.