Helen’s Story

“I used to live in New York and was with the same company, a manufacturing company, for 34 years, I loved my job, I think I started with a new company that grew and grew. I did everything but I have no recollection now of what I did, but I do remember travelling a lot with them from one state to another dealing with conferences and maybe sales but not sure anymore.

I didn’t travel back to England very much when I was in New York which I feel guilty about now. America is such a big country I spent most of my holidays travelling around each State. One of my best friends lives down in Florida, not my favourite place, because it’s too hot but he has a nice place there on the east coast an hour from Miami – but still very hot!

About 2 1/2 years ago I was fit and healthy and had arranged to go and stay the weekend with a friend of mine. I woke up that morning feeling unwell with a headache so I decided to stay at home to rest up, I don’t recall anything else that day, and woke up in hospital about six weeks later, I was told I had had an aneurysm.

My sisters flew over to see me, the doctors told them it was ‘touch and go’ as to whether I would survive – I don’t recall anything. I was in hospital for about 7 to 8 weeks and then followed by rehab at home. When I was admitted to hospital in New York, the company I was working for, kept me on the books for another four weeks. The laws in America are totally different and you must pay for your own treatments. Luckily for me I took out a high-level health insurance, it cost me at the time $1100 a month, but I was very thankful and relieved to have taken this out, as it really helped me with my recovery and was treated very well in rehab.

I had never heard of aphasia before my illness. I was told when I was in hospital I couldn’t walk but when they weren’t looking I used to get out of bed and try and walk, hurting myself in the process trying to get out! They told me at one point the nurses had to tie me to the bed because in my mind I was not staying, but I don’t have any recollection about this at all.

I wasn’t allowed to drive and unfortunately due to my illness my driving license expired when I was in hospital, I was mad at the world!

When i was able to travel I came over to England to be with my sister decided not to renew my licence in America and I’ve never driven over here, so I now walk everywhere. I sold my property in New York before I came over to England and now live with my sister and her husband, I have 2 other sisters in the North of England but due to Lockdown I haven’t seen them.

All my belongings are now in storage in America until I decide what I’m going to do. I don’t know as yet whether I would go back to New York because of the insurance costs now that I’m not working. When I came back to England to be with my sister, the first year was a blank I don’t remember much.

My problem now is I have communicating and processing difficulties. Sometimes it doesn’t make any sense and it’s very difficult and frustrating to converse at times, I know what I want to say but I can’t find the words for it. When people meet you they don’t think there is anything wrong! I have a close friend in Carolina who has said talking to me is now very different.

I don’t like the feeling of cabin fever so will go out for long walks. I now walk everywhere, I will walk into town which normally takes me half an hour, people have been respectful when I’ve been out, but I normally walk alone with my mask. I walk every day approximately 5 miles, sometimes I go out with my sister and we will go on a big walk up to 10 to 12 miles.

I had my 1st vaccine on the 26th of February of this year and hopefully the first vaccine back to some sort of ‘normal’ life again!”