Give it some stick!

Friday 30th March 2007

Thils morning Shirley had her first appointment at Bucknall hospital for Physio - in the community so to speak. This is two months after the stroke and about 8 weeks since she came out of hospital.

She is now very well, but walking is still a difficulty. She get less tired but can't walk very far.

They have given her a stick! (Many jokes here ...)

February 21st: Shirley's Birthday

48 today! 48 today!

Perhaps not everything birthdays have been in the past - but another great pile of cards and presents too. Ash Wednesday - but we still went out for a meal (kept it simple) and stuck to the veggie and fish options.

A happy day just to be here.

Every day sees a little more progress. Not quick enough for Shirley, but progress is progress.

February 20th UCM Annual Dinner

This evening we went to the North Staffs UCM Annual Dinner - a couple of hundred people, I guess.

They presented Shirley with flowers and made quite a fuss. It is still tiring for her to walk, but otherwise doing very well

Sunday 18th February

Shirley writes ...

I am doing really well, though just getting over a nasty chest infection, which if anything, has made me feel worse than I did having had a stroke! I am walking (without sticks), but I hope this doesn't become my natural gait. My left hand is getting more use in it, but still weak. My field vision isn't 100% so driving is out for the time being, well at least until I see my consultant again in 6 weeks time, so Peter will have to bring me to Maryvale for the BAAT weekend coming upin March.
I have been mistaken as belonging to a religious order with the amount of clergy and sisters who have been to visit me, even +David came which was nice to see me. My consultant saw Introduction to the Liturgy, CCC, GIRM, Vat II documents, etc, all laid over my bedside table as I've got on with my studies, and thought I was a nun!!! It isn't surprising when 6 nuns from the Immaculate Heart of Mary all turned up together to visit me.....One of the male nurses thought he was going to see a bit of "Sister Act"!
It hasn't all been fun on the acute stroke ward where I've been, there have been five who haven't been as fortunate as myself, and died whilst I've been on there. I realise this can happen to anyone, (I've never smoked or taken illegal drugs), just over worked. I'm taking this as a wake up call to slow down a bit now. I was the youngest by 30+ years on my ward. It was a blood clot I suffered on the brain, not a bleed. Now on anticoagulants.

I have been asking the Holy Spirit to find me the time to study more....I didn't expect Him to go to such lengths to make this possible! But I do realise now just how many people must love me.....I have been really touched by the amount of love and prayers people have sent.


Saturday 17th February

Shirley is much better now - over the chest infection - and successfully getting around the house, even doing a little washing up!

We're using the first floor of the house mainly as our 'private area', so that Shirley can be available to visitors in the main lounge downstairs. Yesterday - the first day this week that she has been well enough to receive visitors - seven people came, and Shirley was exhausted. She slept most of the afternoon.

During the week we had to turn people away. I felt bad about this, but it was necessary. Even now she is so much better she gets tired.

It is wonderful that she is making such good progress though. Cards, flowers, baskets of fruit and mass offerings continue to arrive ...

Wednesday 14th February

Valentine's Day and Shirley is still feeling quite rough from the chest infection. I got the emergency doctor to prescribe some antibiotics, and she is feeling a bit better, but still coughing and spluttering.

The possibility of going out for a meal this evening (our usual practice) of course is a non-starter.

Still we enjoyed an Indian take-away.

Monday 12th February

Phew! A hectic weekend.

On Friday, after a cuddle with the papal dogs, Shirley went to Asda. During the afternoon all the children (except James, away at Bangor University) visited with their children. Shirley slept very well.
On Saturday, together we went to visit a dear and kind parishioner in the hospital, who had sent Shirley two cards while they were both in hospital. Sadly, on the same day that Shirley came home, Brenda, wonderfully prepared for her final journey, passed from this life to what we are sure is her eternal reward. The walk to the ward, though was a long and tiring one for Shirley, with an outcome in this sad news - not sad for Brenda, but sad that we did not see this kind and selfless saint together.
On Sunday, Shirley came to Mass. She did not (of course) lead the Children's Liturgy, but sat in her place and was the centre of much kind attention. She felt very tired afterwards
Today, Monday, Shirley seems to have developed a chest infection, and has laid in bed all day, coughing and spluttering and generally feeling miserable. Ben and Joe have laid with her faithfully all day, seemingly aware of Shirley's sickness. In the evening, I contacted the emergency doctor and got some antibiotics for her. She is now taking five different tablets.
In the meantime the messages of goodwill, the prayers, and even the cards do not cease. People have been so kind.

Day 16: Home at last! (Feb 9th)

At 8.30am this morning I went to the hospital to collect Shirley. She said her goodbyes to staff and patients - some of whom were crying to see her leave! She promised to see the staff again - though not as a patient on the ward we hope.

After a short car journey home, through a light dusting of show, she came into the house and - as always - got into bed to cuddle up with the dogs.

There are not many patients who leave hospital to have a cuddle with Benedict XVI!

Thu 8th Feb: Day 15 (part 2)

Back at the hospital, Shirley rang me at 11am. Because of the paperwork they won't be able to discharge her till tomorrow ... 9am she should be able to come home.

A bit disappointing really. With all the pressure for beds, you would have thought they would have got rid of her sooner ...

Still at least she will be home tomorrow.

Thu 8th Feb: Day 15

Shirley was due to come for her home visit at 11am this morning, but since 5am there has been very heavy snow. Still, even if all the schools are closed, surely the main roads are open and they can get Shirley to and from the hospital.

A little after 9am the hospital rang - the will have to cancel the visit unless Shirley comes now. Of course, I said yes. Then panicked. I had ten minutes to make sure that the house was ready to welcome her. 2 hours work compacted into ten minutes. Rugs were taken up, floors hoovered, obstacles moved, toilets checked and cleaned, doors closed on the more impossible rooms ... and then, while I am still 'working towards' completing my tasks I hear the door go and Shirley's voice ... with two physios and an occupational therapist. I quickly shut doors on rooms that I did not want visitors.

The visit went very well. The dogs went crazy, fussing and barking round her. Shirley made us all a cup of tea or coffee, managed the stairs and negotiated the bathroom. She also opened all the doors I had closed to show them the rest of the house! The visit was pronounced a success - and Shirley went back to the hospital hoping to be discharged this afternoon.

Ben and Joe raced round the house when she had gone, then Ben stood in doorway, looking at the door, and cried, in that whimpery way dogs do. We'd never heard him make that noise before.

Wed 7th Feb 5pm

I've just come back from visiting Shirley and it has now been arranged that she will make her home visit tomorrow (Thursday) at 11am. Two physios and an OT will assess her on how she can get round the house, make a cup of tea, get up and down stairs, get into the bath , and so on.

If all goes well she will return to hospital and be formally discharged: then I will be able to collect her from the hospital and she can come home. She has progressed so well this last couple of days (so doggedly determined) that she will not need to go to a rehab unit to get her walking again.

There will be some challenges, but it will be such a relief to see her home again.

Heavy snow is forecast overnight. We just hope it won't prevent her and the physios coming for the assessement.

Keep praying!

Wed 7th Feb 12.30pm

Day 14!

Shirley rang a few moments ago. The physios hope to do the home visit today or perhaps tomorrow. This is great news. Shirley will come home for an hour or so and they will assess her doing certain tasks, e.g. putting a caserole in the oven, making a cup of tea etc. I pointed out to Shirley that I can't remember the last time she did either of those things. Her reply cannot be repeated here.

It seems that the light is emerging at the end of the tunnel.

I'm hoping that they may be able to arrange this for this afternoon, as I am supposed to be going to Birmingham tomorrow, but if necessary this will, of course, be rearranged.

Tuesday 6th February

Yesterday Shirley was told that she has to be able to walk with the light assistance of one physio. Today when I left the ward she walked me to the door - unaided! Yet she has been told she is not supposed to walk unsupervised, and the physios have not yet given leave to the nurses to accompany Shirley walking.

Shirley told me that the physios are delighted with her progress - but they want to see her having a more natural gait in her walking.

This is good news but still frustrating.

Monday 5th February

We met with the consultant today, who said that when Shirley can walk aided by one physio, rather than two, they will arrange a home visit to assess whether and when she can come home.

This is both hopeful and frustrating. At least there is something to aim for, but it also seems to present another obstacle. Shirley feels fully well and is frustrated that she is still in hospital. She just wants to come home.

The consultant is also talking about Shirley being assessed for a stay in the Haywood Hospital's Rehabilitation Unit. A stay there could be a couple of days or more. I think it would be home or the Haywood, but I'm not sure about this.

We've agreed that I will visit just in the afternoon from now on. This might be just a few days, but we realise that it could be a lot longer.

Sunday 4th February

Benedict XVI and Joseph Ratzinger both visited again today!

Sunday 4th February

Shirley writes to friends by email:

Dear All,

Thank you for all your prayers and good wishes. I've asked Peter to send you this message, as I am still in hospital.

My stroke was caused by a blood clot, not a bleed, which apparently is good. I am making steady progress, but still cannot walk unaided. I am told that I will regain full use of my left leg and arm, but it is taking longer than I had hoped, and they won't let me home until I can walk safely on my own, climb stairs etc.

I never knew so many people loved and cared about me. The prayers are a real tonic.
This scare has made me realise the need to slow down. I want to do less sewing and upholstering and to concentrate more on less energetic things like study and being a catechist (and dieting!!!)

I'm surrounded by nurses who are more than nurses, they are angel in disguise. I'm sittin he helpless and feeling sorry for myself, unable to walk even a few steps without the help of two physiotherapists on either side of me. The patience they have is beyond their duty.

It is frustrating to watch 80 year olds (and even a 92 year old) walking abou, and having noone my own age (other than nurses) to have a conversation. I'm in a bay where three of the other patients have senile dementia. Please pray for me, and for them too, especially Gladys who has no one in the world other than the nurses to care for her. Being in here makes me feel very humble and I feel very fortunate I've had only a mild stroke compared to the majority on this stroke ward who are in a far worse state than myself.

My consultant thought I must be from some religious order as I am surrounded by the documents of Vatican II, the Catechism, the General Instruction on the Roman Missal and several other volumes whihc are strewn across my bed. Over my bed I have more than 100 cards, loads of flowers, and even a Pope John Paul II teddy bear watching over me. With all this help how can I posibly not get better.

I'm looking forward to going to Maryvale for the next residential. I can't drive now for a while, but I'm sure Peter will escort me to Maryvale. I look forward to seeing you all again.

Thanks again for your prayers,


Saturday 3rd February

The latest news:

Shirley is doing very well. As I write (noon on Saturday 3rd) Shirley is making excellent progress, though not quick enough for her. In the initial phase (1 or 2 days) she lost all sensation on her left hand side, including her sight and also affecting her appearance. This returned very quickly and during the past week she has been making steady progress regaining the use of her left side. She is now taking a few steps, and is improving in her balance, but she is not yet climbing stairs, which is what she needs to do in order to return home. There has been some talk of moving her to a rehabiliation unit at Bucknall Hospital or the Haywood, in order to give her a couple of days of intensive physio in order that she may be well established on her feet. The prognosis remains that she will make a full recovery, though probably not with the full strength on her left side. Every day has seen more progress - there have been no setbacks.

She has had an extraordinary number of visitors, not only from our (large) family, but also many priests, religious and even a bishop. A dispensation was also granted for her to receive a visit from Benedict XVI and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (that is our cavilier king charles spaniels - not their less famous namesake). As she has never lost the power of speech, she has greatly enjoyed holding court all through. She has received about 120 cards (might be more), several emails, and very many beautiful flowers and some plants: we've had to bring many of the flowers home because her bedside had come to resemble a botanical garden. And most important of all, she has been assured of many many prayers, which are undboutedly seeing her through.

At present she has become a little fed up in the acute stroke ward at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire. The staff are wonderful, but most of the other patients are 20 to 40 years older than Shirley, and many have some form of dementia, so conversation - outside visiting times - is difficult. She is working through her BAAT coursebook on the Liturgy and enjoying it!

With a bit of luck she should be home early next week, which I have to confess will make life a lot easier for me. I don't think I'd ever realised how draining it can be to visit a close relative in the hospital every day.

We are very grateful for all your prayers - please keep on praying.

Fr Peter Weatherby

Monday 29th January

An email sent by Peter to many of Shirley friend's on the BA in Applied Theology at Maryvale.

Dear All,

Shirley has asked me to let you know that she is currently unwell and temporarily out of action.

Shirley had a stroke on Thursday morning (25th January). It was a scary day. She was initially without sensation or sight in her left side, and was rushed to hospital in an ambulance with a blue flashing light, but thankfully she has made excellent progress since then. As I write (Monday night) all sensation has returned, and to Shirley's great relief her appearance has returned to normal, although she has limited use in her right arm and hand, and is not yet walking. The outlook is extremely good, and we expect Shirley to be walking in the next week and hopefully to be home by the weekend - the stay in hospital is starting to drive her mad(der).

You will not be surprised to learn that she has retained the power of speech throughout the ordeal. This has been especially fortunate as she has been required to impart wisdom and advice to more than 60 visitors, including all family members of the direct line, siblings and numerous other relatives, several priests and deacons, a bishop, and - all at the same time -- six sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Special permission was also granted for a visit from Benedict XVI and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (who, as you should know, are our cavalier king charles spaniels) who spent Sunday afternoon with Shirley in the day room. The flowers sent to ward 84, the acute stroke unit of the University Hospital of North Staffordshire have been so many that we have had to bring many home to distribute to the poor.

When I left the ward this afternoon Shirley was avidly reading her coursebook on the Liturgy for the BA in applied theology, but hospital is making her very fed up. She is the youngest on the ward by about 30 years. Please keep her in your prayers.

Peter Weatherby

Thu 25th Jan

Thursday 7.45am
This is how it all seemed to begin ...