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RONNIE'S ACCIDENT

 

31st May: Yesterday there was a terrible accident. Ronnie has had a serious accident and is in hospital in Edinburgh. You know he is a solicitor and works in Dunblane. A bull escaped from the slaughterhouse and ran up the High Street, where his office is. Someone below him on High Street phoned to tell him the beast had escaped.

There is a butcher's shop with a pend (alleyway) and the animal went in there. Ronnie went to try to contain it in the pend and shut the doors of the pend. It charged him, sent him flying and trampled him.

He was taken by ambulance to Stirling Royal. He was so agitated when they tried to scan him that they had to sedate him. He was very muddled.They decided to send him to Edinburgh, which I don't know at all, and they had to give him general anaesthetic for the journey so that he would not injure himself. We (Vicki (daughter), Colin (her husband) and I got lost in Edinburgh.

At the hospital, when we eventually got there, he was asleep most of the time. He has a fractured skull, bruising to the frontal lobes of the brain and bruising round the heart. He is in ICU and will be moved to neurology.

I can't take in what has happened.

Ronnie was moved from ICU to High Dependency today and then after another brain scan, to neurology high dependency. He managed to talk to us slightly more coherently today.

We spoke to the consultant who says that they need to scan him every day for ten days in case the bruising in the frontal lobes gets worse. They can't say whether that will happen or not. If it does, they may have to operate.

The staff at Western General are wonderful and very helpful to us.

Ronnie has no idea why he's in hospital. I'm not sure if he knows he is in hospital. I've tried to tell him only that he had an accident - no details - and that he's in Edinburgh, but I don't know how much he's taken in. He did give me a big hug and a kiss, which brought tears to my eyes.

It's hard juggling serving mares, trying mares and going to Edinburgh, but I am very lucky at the moment as Shona is here with me.

1st June: I woke up feeling bad this morning, jittery and nervous and ... I don't know. Two ponies were being collected by Gillies from Kildean Market to go to Surrey. The arrangements all went haywire. Shona and my neighbour, Robin, were going to do this for me, but we couldn't get insurance for them to drive my pickup. So in the end, I drove. At least the ponies did load easily, but it was a 30mph journey as they were unsettled.

Vicki and I had the unenviable task of telling Ronnie's elderly parents about his accident. It's not something you would do by phone and this was our first opportunity. We told them about the accident, but not the extent of his injuries.

We then headed to visit Ronnie in Neurology High Dependency but he wasn't there, which gave me a fright. He had become lethargic and after another scan, had been moved back to ICU. Although he was asleep most of the time, his sense of humour shone through when he was awake.

An ICU doctor told us the worst scenario and I hope it won't happen. If it does, he is with the best and most dedicated people I have ever met. The next few days are critical as the bruising can increase at this point.

Thank you to everyone. You keep me going. My way of dealing with things is to talk about them and thank you for listening.

2nd June: Ronnie was very quiet today. He was sleeping a lot. The nurse says it's because he doesn't get a good night's sleep as he wakes up and is agitated. He was finding it difficult to communicate today. It was as if he knew what he wanted to say but the words wouldn't come out. He says, "Right!" to almost everything. Vicki and I were really upset and we both thought it was a step backwards, but the nurse who is with him 24 hours a day says this happens. He perks up at any mention of the twins, though. We talked to him and asked questions to which he had to give an answer other than, "Right" but the only appropriate response we got was talking about going to the Lion & Unicorn pub in Thornhill. We asked what he would drink, beer or wine and he said, "Beer would be better!" Also on the upside, he had his first proper food: minestrone soup and jelly - not together, I hope!

The doctor updated us on what the consultant has been saying. He reckons it could take two weeks for all the bruising in Ronnie's brain to come out. So it's living day to day and thinking no further than that.

I called in briefly this morning to Gargunnock Show to return the cups from last year. Well done to Barbara, in hand champion with Carrick and to Lisa, ridden champion with Barney.

I have had a night out with neighbours who were having an after show barbecue. Didn't mean to stay long as I feel I have to be focused all the time in case there's a call from the hospital. Only just home. The house feels so empty and quiet without him.

3rd June: At first, he didn't communicate a lot, but I discovered he could read the get well cards we'd received. I don't know if he can just read or read and comprehend. It's hard to tell. When he moved wards, we had to wait ages for the new ward to process him.

There was a marked difference in him at the new ward. With hindsight, we think he used that intervening time to process what he'd heard and seen. This was the first time he had answered the question, "Where are you?" "Western General!" he replied. He responded to the twins, tweaked their noses and ruffled their hair. He is only allowed two visitors at a time and when Vicki and I were with him, he asked, "Where are Colin and Alexander?" This is the first time he has spoken in sentences.

When we were waiting for Ronnie to arrive at the new ward, a strange thing happened. There were other visitors waiting to see patients, among them a man who when he saw Ronnie come out of the lift on his bed, said, "That's the man who was knocked down by the cow." He then chatted to Vicki about Royal Bank of Scotland (she's Callander manager) as the company by whom he's employed do work for RBS. We still don't know how he recognised Ronnie. It's a mystery! And a small world.

I have just phoned to find out how Ronnie has settled in and the staff nurse says he's muddled again. I think he must have made a superhuman effort for us today and is now tired and can't make the effort to think.

I am so much more optimistic after today but still have to bear in mind that the bruising to his brain can develop within two weeks of the accident, so he is not out of the woods yet.

4th June: Ronnie wasn't as communicative today as he was yesterday. Vicki managed to get more time off work and we took the twins off school this afternoon, hoping that he would respond to them again.

He had slept well last night, so I was hoping there would be even more improvement, but he was monosyllabic again and sometimes just grunted in response to questions. I know he will have ups and downs but I was so optimistic after our visit yesterday that I am finding it hard to see him take a step backwards.

He wasn't giving "appropriate responses" to the nurses. When asked if he knew where he was, he answered, "In the Lion & Unicorn" (our local pub). I wish!!

5th June: Ronnie was talking even less today and seemed more confused. He was sleeping most of the time. He's been moved out of High Dependency and into a neurosurgical ward. We discovered he doesn't know Vicki's name. She has thought that he has looked at her strangely since the accident and when we asked him who she was, he said, " Sally Triffney." I have no idea who that is. I asked if he knew my name and he replied, "Mrs Alexander."

He can feed himself and has a good appetite.

The consultant says Ronnie may be moved to Stirling next week by the time that there is no risk of more bruising developing. That will certainly make life easier for Vicki and me.

His nurse is a large lady, who doesn't take, "Hmm!" for an answer. She was asking him questions to determine how confused his was, but he wouldn't answer. She tickled his feet mercilessly until he eventually told her what year it was!

First the fluffy mittens and now tickling feet. The Spanish Inquisition was mild by comparison with Edinburgh Western General!

6th June: Ronnie was asleep nearly all the time when we visited today. Even when he was awake, he didn't open his eyes. His sodium levels are low and so he's on restricted water and will have a saline drip tonight. The doctors don't know whether the sleep is due to the low sodium or to the brain trauma. They can only use a brain scan so often because of the risks associated with radiation.

Vicki couldn't get a parking space so I went in alone. I held his hands and talked to him and he asked, "Can you tell me what day it is, please?" I told him and he repeated it. That was the only communication today. I don't think he knew who I was.

Apparently he had been bright this morning and yesterday morning, but then became dosey. Vicki and I are very upset but they doctors haven't moved him back to intensive care or high dependency, so it can't be so bad.

I have the most amazing friends. Two volunteered to clean my house and one was here yesterday and both today. I told them they didn't know what they were letting themselves in for. Thank you Rita and Margaret!

7th June: Ronnie was moved back to ICU last night. His consciousness level gave cause for concern. He had another scan and the bruising hasn't developed any further, but he has been intubated and an ICP monitor has been inserted to his brain.

7th June again: When I told Vicki about Ronnie, she got a taxi to be here with me and stayed the night. It was hard to know for sure what was happening because we were both in such a state, we couldn't take in what we had been told.

Another crisis was that we had been economical with the truth of the extent of Ronnie's injuries to his elderly parents so that they would not be beside themselves with worry. Yesterday a freelance journalist called me and said he was running the story and had sent copy to all the newspapers. He wanted permission to use a photograph. I begged him not to mention what Ronnie's injuries were and he gave me his word that he hadn't. I was horrified to find Ronnie splashed over all the daily papers and knew it was only a matter of time till someone called Ronnie's parents. I made one of the most difficult phone calls of my life and sent someone to be with them. Please don't believe what you have read in the papers as I have been misquoted and some accounts are pure invention.

At the hospital, Vicki and I were truly alarmed to see all the gadgetry to which Ronnie was connected. I thought I was going to faint. I asked his nurse to explain what everything was and why it was being done and that helped calm me down. Ronnie will be kept like this for two days.

8th June: Ronnie is much the same today. The pressure on his brain fluctuates, but he is given a treatment intravenously which temporarily reduces the pressure. He is in a medically induced coma and will remain like that until the pressure reduces. It's just a waiting game. It is exhausting for Vicki and me.

Since the newspaper articles, there have been calls from more people, wishing Ronnie well. It's been lovely to talk to friends from the past again. It's easy to lose touch when you all move to different locations. Thanks to everyone for their support and good wishes. Ronnie is a really special person and I know will thank you all personally when this is over.

9th June: When I phoned this morning, I was told that Ronnie hadn't needed another treatment with the drug which reduces the pressure. I was really happy and felt optimistic.

By the time we arrived at the hospital, the pressure was still fluctuating and although the upper level was slightly reduced, there was no material difference. I phoned tonight and it's still the same. It's a case of wait and see. It's exhausting going to and from Edinburgh. Normally a journey like that isn't stressful, but when you have no idea of how things will be when you arrive, it is stressful and very tiring.

There's no point in asking what the eventual outcome will be because no-one can predict that. That makes it even harder for Vicki and me.

On the upside, lots of friends from the past have got in touch and the intervening years just melt away as the bond between us was so strong when we were at University. (Gosh, is that that long ago!)

10th June: The pressure is still fluctuating and so they are trying to cool Ronnie to reduce the pressure in a gentle way. I was very distressed to see the monitor fluctuate this afternoon.

Later: The cooling blanket has had an effect and the pressure has reduced slightly and is more stable. The first good news in a week!

11th June: When we visited Ronnie today, we were told that the doctors had taken off the muscle relaxant, which produces the paralysis of the coma, this morning. For two days, he has had suction to clear his lungs. Now he has a chest infection and is on antibiotics. When the relaxant was no longer there, he coughed, causing the pressure to his brain to increase. He now has a brain monitor in case he has a seizure. The pressure is still fluctuating.

When I phoned at night, I was panicked by what the nurse told me and spent a very anxious time, till Vicki phoned and got information.

12th June: The pressure was still variable this afternoon and gradually climbed. Ronnie had had a treatment (mannitol) yesterday afternoon and again last night. We had asked if it were possible to see a doctor and had to wait four hours, but it was worth it. He said that everything which was happening was expected and that within the next few days, the pressure should reduce. Ronnie will have a CT scan tomorrow.

It has been hard to see a doctor as they seem to be overstretched and some of the information we got from other quarters was unreliable and very upsetting. I feel a huge sense of relief tonight. Ronnie is still on antibiotics for the chest infection and remains in the induced coma. When the pressure subsides, they can bring him out of the coma.

13th June: The pressure was more stable when we visited today but Ronnie had had a brain scan and had been given another treatment before our visit. When I phoned tonight he had had yet another treatment. The Neurology consultant was in theatre all day and so couldn't speak to us but a doctor did. The consultant is the only one who can interpret the scan so we need to wait till he can see us. The pressure is still fluctuating, but the chest infection seems to be responding to treatment.

14th June: Although the pressure was fluctuating today, it was different. For a while it would be stable at an acceptable level, then would rise sharply and come down without any medical intervention. The pressure monitoring is not an exact science and so the doctors wonder if they are "treating numbers". We saw the neurology registrar today and they are pleased with his progress to the extent that they may start to bring Ronnie back to consciousness, either this evening or tomorrow morning.

When he regains consciousness, they will be able to assess the damage to his brain.

It's one step forward!

Later: The paralysis was taken off this evening and within half an hour, the pressure had risen to such an extent that the paralysis had to be reinstated. The pressure is now the same as it was this afternoon. They will try this again tomorrow.

15th June: they didn't remove the paralysis as the pressure rose again overnight and so Ronnie was cooled (it's induced hypothermia). When we saw him today, the pressure was stable and low, but he did have the cooling blanket on. It was removed just as we were leaving.

16th June: Progress! A step forward! Ronnie had a stable night, so the paralysis was taken off this morning. He is still sedated, though. He is maintaining a stable, acceptable pressure, apart from when he tries to cough. The pressure goes high for a short time and then returns to normal. I'm really, really pleased that there's been a change for the better. Other drugs will gradually be taken away.

17th June: There is an improvement in Ronnie. The pressure on his brain stabilised on Friday and yesterday they removed the muscle relaxant which causes paralysis. His muscles tremor sometimes but that's just a reaction to having been immobilised. He tries to cough - he has a chest infection from lying down so long and it racks his whole body, but at least the reflex is there. The nurses remove the secretions from his lungs when he tries to cough. Today they reduced the sedation a little, but he was only semi-conscious. They were going to remove the ICP monitor from his skull as they are happy with the reduction of pressure and stability.

Later: The monitor has been removed. They had to increase the sedation to do it and have now reduced it again. He is slightly more conscious than when we saw him this afternoon and is able to open his eyes and focus a little.

18th June: When we arrived at Ronnie's room this morning, his nurse said they intended to perform a tracheotomy today. Vicki was very upset and so was I. The doctor explained that they couldn't take away the sedation whilst Ronnie still had the ventilator through his mouth as he would gag and choke. Ronnie was semi conscious and seemed to be focusing his eyes. We spoke to him but I don't know if he understood or not.

They did the tracheotomy about three o'clock and we were allowed to see him again about 4:20pm. He had been sedated to do it and wasn't focusing again, but his eyes were open. We stayed till 6:30. They will now reduce the sedation gradually. His breathing is less assisted now.

19th June: Today, Ronnie was moved from intensive care to Neurology High Dependency. It's a step forward. He has slight assistance with breathing through the tracheotomy. His eyes are open but he doesn't focus. Although the sedation was withdrawn this morning, it takes up to 48 hours to leave the system. He doesn't really respond and I don't know if he recognizes us. He can't be assessed until the tracheotomy is removed and that can't be done till they are sure he can swallow. The visiting at High Dependency is restricted and the hours (3:00 - 5:00pm and 6:00 - 7:30pm) don't suit me at all.

I have other, certainly more minor, disasters. Honey's filly went lame the other day and we kept an eye on it, but it didn't improve. the vet's aspirated the swollen pastern and withdrew blood stained fluid. Today they x-rayed it and there is a splinter of bone and an infection around it. The bill at the Dick Vet would be at least £2000 and I can't commit myself to that in the present circumstances. The other option is to treat the infection and hope it improves. The vet said if it doesn't, she should be put down.

Mack (MacCallumdene), who was licensed just before Ronnie's accident, escaped from his field today and got in amongst mares. One mare was just going off season and he was after her. We managed to get both Mack and the mare into the yard and after a while got the mare into a stable without him. We herded him to an available field and got his companion to keep him happy. Really didn't need this just now.

I will have ponies at RHS but I won't be taking anything to do with the showing. I should be at the showground on Thursday.

20th June: The ponies went to the Highland Show after lunchtime, the dog went to kennels and Vicki and Colin and I went to hospital. The ward Ronnie's in has restricted visiting hours which makes life a bit more difficult.

At first, Ronnie was dosey and unresponsive. When a nurse tried to check his pupils, he refused to let her see his right eye. As soon as she had gone, he opened his eyes. We chat a lot to him but until now have had no response since 3rd June. As we talked and asked him questions, Ronnie moved his eyebrows, managed a minute shake of the head as in a negative and a minute nod for a positive. All were definitely associated with what we had been talking about. I am so happy!

Ronnie may be moved to Stirling next week. That would be a huge burden off our shoulders.

8:45pm: I've just had a phone call from Shona and Scott at RHS to say Elise has suspected grass sickness. How many more times is life going to shit on me? She's being taken to the Dick Vet.

21st June: We went to RHS today and Scott showed Kestrel in the stallion class. He was 6th. He ran out well and was impeccably behaved as always.

We stayed at the show till visiting time at hospital and got a taxi there. Ronnie wouldn't wake and his breathing didn't seem right to Vicki and me. We were told that his vital signs all dropped this morning suddenly and the tracheotomy tube had been blocked with secretions from his lungs. He had had a lot of physiotherapy today. He also had a chest x-ray and blood sent to the lab. They didn't have results from either.

We insisted that he wasn't right and there was action. The lab results appeared as if by magic. He has an infection which needs a specific antibiotic and will be started on it now. He was hardly awake any of the time we were there.

The Dick Vet don't think Elise has grass sickness but she now has acute liver failure, cause unknown. They are still treating her. The foal is fine. She kicked the vet who was attending to Elise.

Honey's foal is still on antibiotics and the swelling doesn't seem to have gone down much. She jumped on my foot tonight and I think I may have a broken bone, but can't face going to hospital.

23rd June: We were late setting off today as Colin had to help his father fell trees. George has been a huge help by looking after the twins for Vicki and Colin, so Colin had to go. We went straight to the hospital and when we arrived, the nurses were putting Ronnie into a chair with a hoist mechanism. He was very tired and struggling for breath and so they put him back to bed and called a doctor and a physiotherapist as his lungs were very congested.

By the time they had finished, he was totally exhausted and so there was no communication between us. I was driven almost to violence by the visitors to the other patient in the ward. He is comatose and his fiancee, in an exceptionally loud voice, was shouting, "Barry, open you eyes!" "Barry, can you hear me?" "Barry, It's Nancy!" This was repeated time and time again at full volume for two hours till I couldn't stand it any more and had to leave before I thumped her.The selfishness of doing this when it was obvious that Ronnie was in difficulties was unbelievable and I felt sorry for poor Barry. Bet he waited till she was gone and then opened his eyes!! It must have been draining for him if he was aware.

Arrived the the showground to the news that there was a case of suspected strangles and all sorts of exaggerated rumours and ideas flying. I just couldn't cope and so we went off to dinner at the Lodge.

Elise is much the same as yesterday, but they did take her out to grass for a wee while. She is still low in calcium and has fats in her blood but not enough to suggest hyperlipaemia. Honey's foal seems a bit better and will tolerate having her sore leg touched and even pressure put on the pastern.

24th June: Today we took the twins to RHS to spend their money. Eilidh did and Alexander didn't.

Ronnie was half asleep and not responding to us when we arrived. He is on a regime of three hourly nebuliser, suction and bagging for the chest infection which causes congestion in his lungs and makes him very tired. The nurses asked us to leave whilst they did this and when we returned, he was much better. He was communicating with facial expressions and I am sure he knew who we were.

He can only move his facial muscles and his head. He can't move anything from the neck down.

No further news about Elise. The Dick Vet said they would only contact us today if there was any change in her.

25th June: Ronnie was sitting in a chair when we arrived and was awake. He responded to questions about himself but if we mentioned anything outwith him and the hospital, he didn't know what we were talking about. He didn't know who Vicki and I were. It's hard to pass two hours there and Barry's woman, Nancy, was at full volume again. "Barry, put out your tongue!" "Barry, put your tongue away!" Vicki and I had fits of giggles. If you didn't laugh, you's cry.

I told the staff nurse on the phone tonight that he didn't know us. I don't think she believed me but Vicki and I know for sure from his facial expressions and the nods or shakes of his head or the way he looks quizzically at us.

I made a big mistake today and let two confidence tricksters into the house. People like ambulance chasers, who target vulnerable people. I believed in the unlikely coincidences they presented to me but when it came to the man being a clairvoyant and being in touch with those on the other side....! They didn't steal anything. That's not how they work. They build up a relationship and then defraud you. All the things the man said he could have got from the newspaper reports. When I went over it all afterwards with Vicki, I realised how many inconsistencies there were in what they said. I phoned the police but since the couple didn't actually do anything, all they can do is to issue information to other police forces to watch out for them. I'm honestly not paranoid, but if one lot of tricksters can find me, how many more are waiting? What a world! Yet the help I have had from truly good friends makes me keep faith in human nature. Scott came here to sort me out!

26th June: I can't believe the change in Ronnie in 24 hours. When we got to the hospital, Vicki waited to park the car and I went to the ward. Ronnie was in bed and awake and looking bright. I asked if he knew who I was and he mouthed, "Joan." He gave me a kiss and then he moved his arms and his fingers. I was amazed. He showed off to Vicki when she arrived. I need a lip reader as we can't always make out what he mimes. He certainly does have amnesia as all names other than those of the immediate family are met with a blank stare or a shake of the head. The physios asked us to leave so that they could work on him and when we came back, he was asleep. However, he did move his legs and toes. I am really delighted but I know it's a bit like a rollercoaster and mustn't build my hopes too high. Barry has been moved to another ward, thank goodness!

I was feeling really down last night and this morning. Friends came to help. Barbara McVean came here with Laura, her daughter, and they mucked out and helped a lot. Barbara drove me to collect Barty from kennels. I was really pleased to get him home. He makes me feel secure. I discovered a gas leak in the kitchen, thanks to Barbara and the plumber was on the scene quickly to fix it. Robin, my friend and neighbour mucked out the cattle courts today and piled the muck heap up for me. The farrier was here today and Shona held the ponies for him. The fencer came this evening to fix a broken strainer.

Today was Scott McGregor's 60th birthday. He came here last night to sort me out because I was in such a state.

The update on Elise: she has improved a bit. She and Lizzie, her filly, get out to grass by day and she's on a drip by night. They still don't know what has caused the acute liver failure but some enzyme levels have improved. They had thought of doing a liver biopsy, which I wasn't happy about as the risk of hemorrhage is very high. They have decided against unless she takes a turn for the worse. Honey's filly, Heather Lass, seems to be improving as well. Poor wee soul must hate being injected twice daily. Only a few more days to go, thank goodness.

I am am so lucky in my friends and so grateful to them for all they've done for me.

27th June: Ronnie was sitting in a wheelchair today when we arrived, bolstered up by pillows He was bright and alert and communicative. He was uncomfortable and by several questions we managed to find out what was wrong. He can't support his head so it slumps forward and makes the tracheotomy tube uncomfortable. The nurses put him back to bed but then his legs were uncomfortable. Got that sorted out and he fell asleep. His chest is much better and the breathing support has been reduced and he's coping with it.

The registrar thinks he might be moved to Stirling at the beginning of next week. That would be a great relief. His sense of humour is still there. Can't be specific but he gets a look in his eyes which is really Ronnie.The raised eyebrows, in as "For goodness sake!" assure me he is still the same person mentally.When we mentioned people to him today, he knew who we were talking about.

28th June: Ronnie was "quiet" today when we arrived and after questioning him about what was wrong, we found out he was fed up! He has more movement in his hands and arms (he can scratch his nose) and his right side is better than his left. He was in bed today and indicated that his legs were uncomfortable. He was alert but doesn't know some people we mention and there's no pattern to it.He is getting lass assistance with his breathing and they hope to move him to Stirling on Tuesday. That will be a huge relief.

29th June: Improvements again today as Ronnie's hand movements are much more coordinated. He took off the clip attached to his finger which monitors oxygen saturation and tried to attach it to the tracheostomy tube. When he couldn't, he put it on my finger! His breathing is no longer assisted and he was sitting in a chair. He has some movement in his legs.

He will move to Stirling on Tuesday and that will be so much better for Vicki and me. They hope to remove the tracheotomy over the weekend and then he'll be able to speak, which will make it less frustrating all round. He should also be able to eat!

Tonight's update is late because this was the surprise 60th birthday party for Scott McGregor. I had started organising it but Barbara McVean took over a lot of it after Ronnie's accident. It was a great night. Everyone had clubbed together to buy a present which was a bronze Highland Pony made by Liz Henderson with some money from it being donated to Grass Sickness. It is a beautiful model. We also had a caricature card made, similar in style to that for Ronnie's 60th. The cake was a map of Australia with Jolley Farm marked, and lots of things associated with Scott. It was held at the Lion & Unicorn and had people from all aspects of Scott's life. I think it was a great success and I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. Just wish Ronnie could have been there.

30th June: Apparently Ronnie was very alert and active today, but had tired himself out and so slept almost all the time we were there. We had taken the twins to see him but even that didn't waken him. He has no breathing support now but does have moisture to help his breathing. The tracheostomy is still there.

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