Read the moving story of why Bates employee Ben chose to run the Brighton Marathon…
The Marathon? I must be nuts!!! Well once you have read why you will understand. I made a deal you see. I was told by a neurosurgeon that in order for my wife to survive a huge bleed on her brain I needed a miracle. The deal was if I got the miracle I would run the marathon and so the story begins…
On 2nd January 2013 the alarm went off at 5am. I got up for work ready for the new year and I knew it would be a busy one hence the early start. I did my best not to wake Debs as she was 31 weeks pregnant and hated early mornings. I left the house around 6am with my head spinning with work stuff that needed to be done. I made it to Maidstone when I got a call from Benji, Debs son, to say that his mum was suffering with a really bad headache and he felt I needed to come straight home. My reaction was GREAT, Debs has a headache and needs me home, she knows how busy I am but no doubt I will be back by midday no problem. So having just driven 70 miles I drove straight back cursing, thinking how late I would have to work to catch up. However, little did I know that it was much more than a headache and Benji had in fact contacted the hospital as Debs had passed out and was being sick. I panicked a little as she was pregnant and wondered if there was an issue with the baby. I got to A&E and found Debs. She was lifeless, there was no response. The doctors asked me not to panic and that tests were ongoing. Two hours went by with more and more doctors arriving at Debs’ bedside. There was lots of talking going on that they clearly wanted to avoid me hearing until I was asked into a sideroom with the Doctor. He sat me down and explained the extent of Debs’ condition. The scans had shown that there had been a massive bleed on her brain and the chances were Debs would not see out the rest of the day. My whole body went numb. They said that they would transfer Debs to a neuro specialist hospital in Haywards Heath who would be able to care for her better as they had a specialist intensive care unit. I got in the car and I cried the whole way. How was I going to cope managing a family, the kids, a house, a business, myself? So much crap was running around in my head and I was generally a mess. We got to Hurstwood Park and Debs was still with us. She was unconcious throughout and I moved to the relatives room whilst they made her stable. I got to know lots of the relatives there as unfortunately everyone that ended up here was in a particularly bad way.
Thankfully Debs stabilised through drugs and was able to speak. She had lost the ability to walk so was totally bed bound. The specialist again took me away to discuss how things would move forward from here. At this point they explained what their plan of attack was, including delivering Emily, who I had totally forgotten about, 9 weeks early. The sum of this was that Debs had a giant subarachnoid hemorrhage smack in the middle of her brain that had ruptured. Based on the fact that she was young and had 3 children and one on the way they would attempt to operate. They said however that the drugs they would be using meant they would have to deliver Emily 9 weeks early by C section. The second part was that in the Chief Surgeon’s view we would “need a miracle” for Debs to survive the birth let alone the potential of a 10 hour brain operation the following day. 3 times in total I got told she would not survive yet she showed the courage, desire and damn right stubbourness to stay with us.
On the Wednesday Emily was born and immediately rushed to special care where she stayed for 4 weeks. Initially she was on a ventilator and fed through a tube. Thankfully she inherited her mother’s grit and she pulled through beautifully and I brought her home at 36 weeks. This was horrible for Debs because she was desperate to hold and feed her baby. I could see in her eyes not just the physical but the emotional pain. Even this did not stop her from smiling every time I went to see her. I stayed with her all that night as we feared it would be our last. I did not sleep for three days and I knew I was starting to look and feel it. There was no way I was leaving her side though.
On Thursday the doctors assesed her and said they were going to try the operation but with all the will in the world we were pushing even the most advanced levels of medicine. For 10 hours I paced the corridors of Hurstwood Park. The surgeons and nurses and doctors were magnificent. Many of which came in from their day off, if not to treat Debs, then just to see she was ok. She was becoming a bit of a celebrity on the ward.
The next part I will remember until the day I die.
The surgeon who had been operating on Debs came out of theatre, looked at me and looked straight at the floor. I remember the sinking feeling and my body just collapsed. I feared the worse and thankfully my brother was there to catch me. The doctor came over all apologetic and smiled “you got your miracle” I couldn’t believe it! All my Christmas’ had come at once. However this was just the beginning. Little did I know how hard the next 8 months would be. She came out of the operation and had lost her ability to walk, talk, see, swallow or even touch her face. The following months would be horrific for her, as if the operation had not been bad enough. However in true Debs style she sucked it up and toughed it out ALWAYS SMILING!
Almost 13 weeks in total Debs spent in hospital between ITC and the rehab unit where she learnt how to walk again, see again and everything else we all take for granted. 8 months on and she is doing amazingly well. The doctors and physios are always saying that she is a medical marvel and her odds of survival were beyond a miracle. However she continues to amaze us all.
So, anyway, running the marathon was my way of giving back to all the people that went way beyond the call of duty. Nurses, doctors, anesthetists, surgeons, physios, volunteers. Hurstwood Park truly is a centre of excellence. Throughout nearly 13 weeks we had not a single bad experience. All of the staff that work there are passionate about the people they care for.
On the actual race day Benji & I left from Brighton around 7am and typically the train was cancelled! God knows how much nervous energy I wasted there. We got there in plenty of time to ensure we would not be rushed and proceeded with our pre-race meals and drinks to ensure we would not run out of energy. In hindsight, to think we would not run out of energy was stupid as I was starting to feel it by about half way. The first 13 miles went exactly to plan in around 2 hours. However at mile 14 my right bum cheek felt like somebody have knifed me! The pain was horrific. 4 weeks prior I had a problem with my Gluteus Maximum (bum muscle) and my osteopath suggested I pull out. Stupidly or stubbornly I decided to ignore her advice, mainly because of the vast sums of money people had given and the fact that this would be just a fraction of what my wife had gone through. The last 4 hours took almost twice as long but I eventually dragged myself across the line. The pain was quickly overcome with emotion and I felt that I had paid my dues for the fantastic work the hospital and staff had offered for Debs. I don’t think I will be rushing out to do it again!
If you’d like to donate to Ben’s cause please go to: http://www.justgiving.com/ben-hensby