>I have been to visit Tom at Stoke Mandeville several times, usually with Raj, however yesterday we also took Kam Sohi and Kirstin Maguire (friends from Brunel) who had not seen Tom since his accident. Everytime I see Tom he has made improvements, and I continue to be amazed by his progress, yesterday was no exception.Â When we arrived, around lunchtime, Tom was not yet out of bed (provoking many jokes about laziness!) but he soon encouraged the nurses to get him up and in to his wheelchair. Due to a recent complication, Tom is now back wearing his neck brace which he was whinging about as it isnâ€™t very comfortable, it was also very humid on Sunday so he complained it was too hot.
>When Tom was in his wheelchair, he fainted which was slightly terrifying! The nurses were wonderful at bringing him quickly back round and checking it wouldnâ€™t happen again. Raj explains this better than me,
>â€œTom’s fainting was like when you or I stand up too quickly and we get a head rush, except where our heart increases blood pressure and we feel light headed (the blood goes to our head and we get extra oxygen in the brain) Tom’s body doesnâ€™t give him that head rush. In fact he doesnâ€™t get any rush, and without the rush (the blood pressure had dropped) he fainted (with his eyes open which was scary). The nurses tipped him back and lifted his legs to get the blood out of his legs and into his head, like what our body does for us during a head rushâ€
>After the nurses brought him round, he felt slightly hazy but soon explained that that often happens. I told him that he scared us and he cheekily replied, â€œHave to do that again thenâ€.Â (This is quite normal morning behaviour for Tom and is nothing to be concerned about.)
>We went outside in a brief sunny period and talked about Rajâ€™s system of rating people (ha!), and Kirstinâ€™s extreme reaction to geeks before trying to track down some lunch. One of the wonderful things about going to Stoke Mandeville hospital is witnessing lots of people in a similar situation to Tom just getting on with their lives and, for the want of a better word, acting â€˜normallyâ€™. Tom has met and become friendly with many people around the hospital including a young guy we bumped in to who said the underused phrase of â€œTop bananaâ€.
>We eventually settled for lunch in Jimmys cafe and watched a large part of the Eastenders omnibus (almost sending us all in to a deep snooze) whilst eating far too many sweets, crisps and ice-cream. An enormous thunder storm kicked off and we watched it from the safety of the dry hospital! Els came back to the hospital and joined us for an unnecessarily lengthy conversation about Twister ice-lollies (donâ€™t ask).Â We discussed plans for upcoming Laurafest ( <http://www.myspace.com/laurafest> www.myspace.com/laurafest) and Els and Tom told us all about â€˜777â€™, which sounds like a lot of fun. We all pikeyed grapes, Bombay mix and apple juice off Tom. Raj force fed Tom grapes for a bit which he didnâ€™t seem to enjoy, whilst Kam and Kirstin contemplated befriending a fellow â€˜Essexâ€™ on the ward.
>It was lovely to spend so much of the day with both Tom and Ellen, hopefully our ridiculous conversations helped take Tomâ€™s mind off his discomfort if only temporarily.