In March this year, steelworker Mike Hambly woke up with a headache and took some paracetamol. Moments later, he was sick and lost his balance.
It was the start of a nightmare that has lasted nearly five months for cycling and kick-boxing fan Mike, 33, and his wife Rebecca with little sign of an immediate end. Mike is still in hospital, unable to talk and waiting to move to a bed on a rehabilitation ward in the hope he may start to recover.
Rebecca, 32, from Swansea, has been constantly at his side as he has been transferred between hospitals and endured a series of devastating setbacks as medics have sought to save his life from a type of brain haemorrhage and subsequent complications that he might not have survived.
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Rebecca, who has been with Mike for seventeen years and married for three, said: “Mike woke up at 6am complaining of neck pain and a headache, he then took some paracetamol but within minutes he was being sick and sweating, he then lost his balance in the bathroom.”
Paramedics initially thought it was just a bug but Mike got worse throughout the day and couldn’t look at any light, his balance got worse, he was sweating, in pain and was vomiting. Rebecca phoned the paramedic again and they took Mike to A&E.
Rebecca said: “Six hours after Mike left in the ambulance, I had a call to explain Mike had a bleed on the brain and needed to be transferred to a hospital in Cardiff and if I could get there asap to see him before he left.
“This news made me go into panic mode, I never thought that it could be this, I couldn’t stop shaking and crying, as I don’t drive I had to phone my mother to ask her to come and take me to the hospital. “
When Mike arrived at Cardiff, he was seen by neurology doctors who phoned Rebecca to say they think he Mike has an aneurysm (a bulge in a blood vessel caused by a weakness in the blood vessel wall), so they were going to take him to theatre and scan him.
(Image: Rebecca Hambly)
After a few hours, Rebecca had a call to say Mike had a seizure and a bleed so he needed to go to ITU, She was told to prepare for the worst.
Rebecca said: “This news made me go to pieces and could not answer the phone calls from the hospital in case it was going to bad news that I did not want to hear.”
While Mike was in ITU they could not find a cause of the bleed, Mike woke himself up from sedation and was slowly coming round over two days, then they found out he had pneumonia as a result of being ventilated.
Due to the pneumonia , Mike needed to be ventilated again and during this time he had infections, reactions to medication, An vasospasm which is a complication of a subarachnoid hemorrhage which caused small areas of brain damage.
Before Mike became ill, he used to enjoy kick boxing, weight training and cycling and never complained of feeling unwell and Rebecca describes him as a kind, caring, hardworking and witty kind of man.
(Image: Rebecca Hambly)
Mike was woken back up two weeks later and was fitted with a tracheostomy, and Rebecca was finally allowed to go and visit him as restrictions began to be lifted and Mike had been moved out of ITU to high dependency ward.
Rebecca describes seeing him for the first time, she said: “This was hard seeing Mike like this, I did not know what to expect, I was scared. Each visit got easier though and eventually three weeks later Mike was moved onto a neurology ward, his external drain and tracheostomy were both removed and we started to see improvements.”
As the weeks went by Mike was making improvements every day and was on the road to recovery.
Rebecca said: “He surprised us all with how well he was coming along. Mike had started to learn to walk again with physiotherapy and eventually started saying one or two words. He was eating and drinking normally, started to write his name, my name, our address and even he wrote on his 94-year-old grandfather Gordon father’s day card.
“We were able to take him outside for some fresh air on visits and he was doing hand signals when he would see us, which is what he would do before this happened, and would smile at us and show off his achievements, which made us really happy as we could see Mike personality coming back.”
Due to Mike’s progress he was referred to a rehabilitation ward at Morriston hospital, when he arrived Mike’s temperature spiked and he would not eat or drink. He was then diagnosed with post-surgical meningitis.
Rebecca said: “They ran some tests and started him on antibiotics straight away and were querying if he had sepsis. Two days later Mike was transferred to another hospital to be examined in A&E, here they said it is likely to be meningitis which made me start to panic again.
“He then had a number of different antibiotics to treat the meningitis, which was put down to post-surgical meningitis which is a risk of doing a lumbar drain, but it was what was needed to be done to Mike to determine if he needed a permanent shunt or not. I cannot thank enough the infection control doctors in Morriston hospital they were amazing at getting on top of the meningitis.”
(Image: Rebecca Hambly)
Mike is now recovering again and is waiting to be transferred back to the rehabilitation ward when a bed to becomes free, as this is his best chance of recovery.
Rebecca says It’s been horrible not having Mike at home with her for the last 4 months.
She says: “I cannot wait to have him back home, hopefully it will be sometime this year he be back home. I am just staying positive that we will have our old Mike back or as much of the old Mike back as possible, but it can take 12-24 months sometimes a lot sooner for someone to recover from this.
“I am told by his consultant that he’s not going to be able to do certain things but I am going to believe he will have his normal life back, as Mike needs as much positivity and encouragement to get him through his rehabilitation and I have faith in him he will do amazing at his rehabilitation.
“It has proved how much family and friends love Mike and cannot wait to have him back, and hopefully Mike will go back to his job he loves. I also cannot thank enough his employer for being so supportive as well as my own employers. “
Before Mike got ill, he did shifts at Tata Steel and he and Rebecca were sharing the responsibility to care for Mike’s 94 year old grandfather.
Since Mike has been in hospital, his family and friends have been supporting his road to recovery.
(Image: Nathan Jenkins)
Mike’s closest friend of 10 years, Nathan Jenkins, 38, has been raising money for the couple, as they may need to make modifications to their home when Mike returns home from hospital to suit his needs.
On the July 12 this year, Nathan did a 500 mile sponsored cycle over five days and has set up a fundraising page and raised nearly £4,000 so far.
(Image: Nathan Jenkins)
Nathan who works at Tata Steel with Mike said: “We’ve always been there for each other through the rough times and it’s not going to stop. All I can do is just help as much as I can, I can’t help him in the hospital so I just want to give him the help outside of it, so when he does come out it will make it that easier for them.”
Nathan says it was a complete knock to the system when got a call from Rebecca explaining that Mike had a bleed on the brain.
Nathan explained:” It would be more understandable if this happened to me because I play rugby and have blows to the head but Mike hasn’t done that.”
Nathan has been to visit Mike in hospital and says it’s strange seeing him ill as he’s always been a “grafter” and never complained. He is supporting Rebecca and keeping positive for the couple through this difficult time.
When Mike returns home from hospital, Nathan hopes to take him down the Mumbles and visit Mike’s grandad Gordon with him.
You can donate to Nathan’s GoFundMe for Mike and Rebecca here.
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