April 19 Progress

Ellen and David left quite late last night after helping to turn Tom and settle him. It was his first night “on the ward” at the National Spinal Injury Centre and it went well despite some initial apprehensions that there would not be a nurse in the same room at all times. David visited early this morning and found Tom well-rested.

The regime in the new ward is tough. Intensive physiotherapy from Scott and the physio team as they train Tom to breathe again as part of the process of weaning him from the ventilator. Tom already is able to breathe unaided for a few minutes (and seems to be able to go for longer each day). Ellen has been taught to help Tom to cough – an important part of the “learning to breathe” regime. The occupational therapy team are helping him keep his limbs supple. The nursing staff maintain the systems and keep him clean and refreshed.

Ellen has been with Tom much of the day – David (after a short journey to London) all afternoon.

The staff here are deft, efficient and highly professional, yet always explain what is happening to Tom, handle him with the greatest care and are super-friendly to us all. And Tom remains super-cool and smiley whatever the dramas going on around him.

[We attached some speakers to the IPOD – Tom thanks Hugh and Hoonie for their music].

Susie was with Polly (Tom’s sister) at the John Radcliffe Hospital early this morning: Polly went to the operating theatre mid-morning and emerged from her operation early this afternoon. Susie gathered that the operation was successful, though it will be a few days before all the results come through. Polly (who was able to speak with David and Tom by phone this afternoon) will stay in hospital for a few days.

Oliver is at his university in Warwick busily preparing for finals (writing revision essays) …. the latest one – on Neurath – was finished today

Message from Tom – 19th April

Now that the hallucinations associated with painkillers and sedatives (like morphine and midazolam) have gone I am starting to understand the delicate balances within the different systems that are essential to my life. [In case you are wondering these hallucinations were neither enjoyable nor recreational]

Thanks to everyone who has written something. Your words help me through every day.

Thank you to Ellen and family for being pillars of strength during this early stage of recovery.

I look forward to being able to write to everyone as soon as I am able and to welcoming you here when I am better.

There’s one thing I have learnt for certain in the last two weeks – never take for granted what you have .

Barbara’s Message – 19th April

Some of Tom’s friends who want to write something have not been able to get themselves registered and enter their comments. If you cannot make the system work for you do send me your words and I will post them (nabarro@un.org). Barbara Harriss of Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford writes

“Am reading the daily progress avidly. I would like Tom to know I’m thinking of him but I am such a dumb idiot I find I cannot log on.

When you next talk to Tom, please tell him that I forgive him for standing me up at the Playhouse and I vividly remember times which he doesn’t: spent walking in North Wales, when he was the head of the children but aged about 4 – perhaps even not 4. I am also remembering a visit to my place in France when Tom Oollie and Polly all tumbled out of a van; and where Tom made a gigantic leap into the local lake which was almost as good to watch as the great photo of him throwing Luc – on the website. And then we all spent the evening listening to the guitar on the terrace of my old house – dodging bats in the gathering darkness and listening to the squeaks of the Greater Edible European Dormouse which is actually a bat-like mini-squirrel with an appetite for rafters.

Kaveri and Eli kept the news of Tom’s accident until I was home from India. I had returned back to places I hadn’t visited since before Tom must have been doing A-levels and it has changed so much it is bewildering. My moment of truth came on one of the new fibre glass fishing craft provided by NGOs after the tsunami. These are what has replaced the 6 logs tied together which provided a perfectly adequate living before Boxing Day 2005. To stay afloat the boat, which looks like a very small punt, has two holes in the bottom – one to let the water in and one to let it out. We got completely soaked in any case from the water coming over the sides in an unsmooth sea. You had to stand and hang on for dear life to a rope attached to the front of the boat as it tossed on the big waves. The objective was to see off two delapidated trawlers which had encroached into shore water. This was completely unsuccessful and the crew returned with a pay off from the crew of the first trawler in the form of a pound of shrimps. I didn’t expect to end up doing something like that on this trip.

Kaveri, Eli and I are all thinking of Tom, Ellen and the whole family. I think our best role at present is to support with things like tasty dishes so people who are travelling don’t have to cook. It is good to read the news of the progress each day – keep it up Tom!

with love to you all, Barbara”

April 18th Progress ….

Tom has moved to St Andrew’s Ward: fewer tubes, less intense nursing and opportunities to listen to sounds on the new IPOD and LOOK OUT OF A WINDOW! David joined Ellen in Tom’s new home this morning. Polly and Susie have come to see Tom after Polly’s scan (she goes in later today for her procedure at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford … we will tell you her news too).

April 17 Update

Tom had another good day at the National Spinal Injuries Centre in Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Aylesbury: he seems positive and in good spirits, reflecting on how good it is that his brain is working as it should, remembering what happens from hour to hour, and really buoyed up by all the messages of support he is getting. (Ellen is reading them to him). He is sleeping well (his wake up call each morning is the visit by the physiotherapists). He hopes that he might – perhaps – be moved from the Intensive Therapy Unit into the acute ward (St Andrew’s) tomorrow (but he knows that bed availability can change from hour to hour so is not getting his hopes up too much). He is looking forward to being able to speak – and to eat real food – soon.

April 16 Update

Good progress continues in the Intensive Therapy Unit. Tom was massaged yesterday and although he could not feel it he said that it felt as though the “fog had lifted”. Lots of conversations with the hospital staff, and with Ellen, Polly, and Susie – they have got the lip-reading down to a fine art. Using a complicated double mirror arrangement Tom was able to watch “Lost in Translation” with Ellen on the TV, and today Ellen read some of the comments that she had printed out from the Website – Tom was delighted and heartened to hear what had been written and said that he will contribute something as soon as he can. He remains positive and smiley despite being increasingly aware of the challenges he faces.

Music conducive to a speedy recovery

Its my job to dig about for some tunes to put on an ipod for tom, for him to listen to during his time at Stoke Mandeville. I recon he must have exhausted mum’s ‘Birdsong’ and ‘Sounds of the Amazon’ cassette tapes by now. Chillout stuff is, I guess, optimal. So no speedcore or acid techno as yet. I’m giving him all the Shpongle albums for starters, and alot of Cafe del Mar.

Anyone got any ideas? Also on the lookout for good audio books…

Get well Tom!


April 12 Update

April 12th 2007: Tom has continuous nursing care in the Stoke Mandeville Hospital Intensive Therapy Unit, with regular physiotherapy to help him clear his lungs (they were bruised in the accident) and support for breathing and circulation. When he is awake he listens carefully to the nursing staff and sometimes he lip-syncs (brother Ollie’s words) jokes to them. Ellen (girlfriend) and David (dad) were with Tom for much of the day and then Susie (mum) came for the evening. Sometimes Tom asks what all the different tubes and wires are for, and wonders where he is; other times he is able to focus on what is happening and where he will go next. The treatment is hard work: in between the workouts Tom rests while his body heals itself. He has been told that when this intensive care has done its work he will move to the acute care ward in the National Spinal Injuries Centre (NSIC) which is also part of Stoke Mandeville Hospital.