Watch out Hercules! I’m almost ready for arm-wrestling!

Just gotta write this blog right now!!!!

It’s hammering it down here in Perth, but I don’t care. I feel a big change coming!!

I just got a light-strength physio band (in stretchy rubber) and tied it into a hole at each end – one for my foot and one for my weak hand (and arm) to hold. I then lay on the bed so I had no gravity and proceeded to lift.

And it’s WORKING! It’s working the muscle I’ve been struggling with for months – you know, the one you use to lift your arm above your head or to hold a phone to your ear.

It’s gonna work, I just know it!! I’m gonna keep it in me sock draw and use it every night.

Yes it official!!! Pete Coghlan is into stretchy rubber in the bedroom!!!!

One locked-in sufferer is back on her feet – after 17 years!

This website was set up primarily to goad, urge, chivvy and generally encourage people who have been paralysed or severely disabled by stroke and locked-in syndrome, along with their families, doctors, nurses and carers. So whenever I come across a positive experience from fellow sufferers like this one, I intend to broadcast it as widely as possible!

Christine (who is now in her 40s) became locked-in 17 years ago and spent most of that time lying helplessly, making no effort to move. Then 2 years ago she began trying to sit forward in her wheelchair, pushing herself forward over and over again. At first, nothing happened, but she kept on trying on a daily basis, constantly pushing her body to make herself sit upright.

Still nothing.  Then, months later, something began to happen – she noticed a little movement which restored her hopes and made her push forward even more.

Today, Christine is standing on her feet and is able to ride a bike!

So the message is clear. NEVER STOP TRYING! The connections may be there now or later but you won’t know unless you keep  trying!

Picture this:  Say, you’re trying and the muscle could be twitching but you can’t see it coz it’s smaller than a pea. You have to build that pea up until one day it’s strong enough to move that limb or finger  or whatever.

I told Christine to try moving a part of her body for half an hour a day, every day for a month or two, timing her efforts to music or something that would help her concentrate.  Several months later and she sent me a video of her thumb – it was moving after 15 years!
Now I can’t promise it will work for everyone but it’s certainly worth a try!

If you want to contact Christine and find out more, please visit her at:  https://www.facebook.com/DiaryOfAFighter

To all you stroke & locked-in sufferers out there! NEVER EVER GIVE UP!!!

Here’s a brief history I’ve recently supplied for my footballer friend and fellow locked-in recoverer, Nick Clarke, who does such a sterling job for his local Stroke Association. I hope it will encourage all you other victims of this life-changing condition and help you get back on your feet!

My name is Pete Coghlan and I am 36 years of age.  3 years ago I was struck down by a blood clot in the brain (stroke) of massive proportion; I hit my head on a sharp piece of concrete while helping my stepfather Ted lay pipes.  It penetrated my skull, hitting the area of the brain known as the pons, leaving me like something out of  ‘I Robot’, the Will Smith film.

Lifeless!!!! Totally blind for the first few days; unable to swallow, talk or even move my lips.  Everything had been wiped out; I was a dribbling mess and petrified!!!

The only one movement I was blessed with was being able to blink my eyelids (hence the title of my book: “IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE ”
If I hadn’t had support from my wife Jade, my sister Vicky, Mum and others,  I would have given up.

My communication board was the only thing I could use to make myself understood – and use it I did. A few letters (day 1), words (day 2), then, weeks later I was able to blink out my thoughts.  I have come along long way since those dark days, having tried everything over the last 3 years, working on every little movement for hours every day. And now  I can work, drive, talk ( thank God) and walk 12 kilometre marathons for charity.
I’m seeing improvements even now and I refuse to believe I can’t achieve more in the future.

All I can say to those who have a strong desire to heal themselves is  to PUT THE TIME IN!!! A simple way to see things is to imagine a baby: How long it takes to walk, then to learn to eat, plus hours of shouting in a playground (years actually). To a child, it can never happen fast enough, the same applies to you.

There’s no easy way out, but with a little regular exercise every day, you’ll get there!!! Just never give up on yourself (NEVER).

Cry – yes we all do!! But next day try again, and again, and again and never stop trying and you may just surprise yourself!!!
As someone once said: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again!”

“P-l-e-a-s-e, M-u-m, h-e-l-p m-e t-o d-i-e”

I well know how locked-in victims feel when they finally wake up to the nightmare, the thought that they may be paralysed forever.  Here’s what I believe is the most harrowing scene from my book, “In the Blink of an Eye”, when all I  wanted was oblivion. So sorry, Mum for putting you through this:

EXTRACT

Mum’s here, her presence comforting, her voice calm and reassuring, as if I were five years old again and frightened of the bogey man. Only this is no fantasy – this monster is real. Earlier, I heard her talking to the doctor who said I needed a peg feed fitted to my stomach and it’s scared the hell out of me! My eyelids start twitching and Mum reaches for the alphabet board, holding it up and tracing the letters with her forefinger as I spell out my message. “P-l-e-a-s-e  h-e-l-p  m-e.  C-a-n-’t  g-o  o-n  l-i-k-e  t-h-i-s.  P-l-e-a-s-e,  M-u-m,  h-e-l-p  m-e  t-o  d-i-e.”

“You don’t mean that!” Mum bites her lip, her face pale and crumpled as she forces back the tears. She shakes her head, but I’m unrelenting, my eyes flicking frantically up and down to get my message across.  “I  d-o  m-e-a-n  i-t.  I  w-a-n-t  t-o  d-i-e.  Y-o-u  a-r-e   a  n-u-r-s-e.  H-e-l-p  m-e.” She turns away so I know she’s crying now and doesn’t want me to see.  Why is everyone so determined not to cry? Have they all vowed to be cheerful all the time, like holiday camp redcoats?  She turns back now, takes a long, deep breath and takes my hand in hers.

“Look Peter!” she sighs. “I know how you must be feeling…” –

“You don’t! You don’t!” I’m screaming inside, but she can’t hear me.

“…and I understand, really I do….”

Her voice trails off. She can see my eyes burning. All of a sudden, she shakes off the veil of helplessness she’s been carrying and I recognise my Mum from 20 years ago – the kind, no-nonsense woman who’d tuck me up in bed at night, loving and efficient, calming me to sleep. “Give it three months. Another three months. And if you’re no better….then we’ll discuss it. Okay? Okay Peter?”

Using the alphabet board I spelled out one last word: “P-r-o-m-i-s-e.”

Mum paused, chewing her lip again, then nodded in agreement and squeezed my hand. “I promise.”

 

Resident Evil. A deserted asylum put the wind up me and my dog!

It’s 12.04am and me and Jade have had a few wines together on our patio. It started off a You Tube funny night – a few laughs and then we get talking with me starting down Memory Lane like you do when the wine kicks in.

Not a lot of people knew that before I came to Oz I did a short stint in security, 3 months or there about. I was telling her about this old hospital I was patrolling, CANE HILL, a mental asylum which had closed for demolition.

I was telling Jade how scary it was and how afraid my patrol dog used to get patrolling the ruins, although some parts were very much left as it was – bedrooms and living rooms were still full of photos, letters and what not. Very, very scary indeed.  I was ordered to do a patrol twice a shift whether  I liked or not.

The hospital was due at some point to be demolished but, until that date was set, it had to be guarded as people would break in and set fires or smash windows. It was as scary…. No scarier!!!!… than any horror movie I’d ever seen, with padded rooms,  wheelchairs in corridors, paint peeling off walls and in some places the floor was giving way. Reminded me of scenes from Resident Evil, you know, that computer game?

The hospital opened in about 1883 and in those days they locked people up, people with mental issues who were experimented on (or treated as they called it.) It was closed in the early ‘90s – ‘91 I think – and set for demolition in 2008. I was there in 2003 – my God, I hated it! But jobs paid the bills, so I tried to man up!!

My dog Candy was a small German Shepherd.. a bitch, but she was hard as nails and quick to snap, as I found out one night in Kings Road, London when a man approached me one night asking me for sexual favours (mad place London,  ey!) Candy was not easily afraid!! On the contrary, she was a great dog; with her, I felt like I could take on the world should I need to.

The story I was telling Jade happened  in Cane Hill one night just before dark while I was patrolling the creepy wards. I used to walk along checking each room and, as I went, I’d send the dog into every room: “Good girl! Find it! Who’s there? Find it!” I’d command her in an encouraging voice that got dogs working. I was not going in any of those rooms on my own, hahaha. I’m not totally mad!

This was one of the scariest places in the UK – in fact, probably in the world Believe me.  I tried to send the dog in a few rooms in there and some she would just refuse –  ears down, tail between her legs, not budging at all and I never pushed her; I wouldn’t dare.  She could be very stubborn if she something was there she felt uneasy about

One time I was working my way down a corridor when I saw a figure lurking in the shadows.  I stopped and backtracked a bit (in shock) and sheepishly asked:  “Are you real!!!”  I was shitting my pants!

To my relief he said: “Yeah, mate. Sorry, just pinching this copper cable.”

I said “Well, I haven’t seen you, alright?” Just glad he was real and not an old patient. I said: “I’ll be coming back in ten minutes – please don’t be here then, and I’ll pretend I never saw you, ok?”

He agreed and I continued my patrol, actually relieved to have met a burglar! Truth is, I’d never been that scared until I was locked-in after my stroke.

I have done some jobs but that was the most unbelievably chilling for sure – and all I got for it was £7.50 an hour!

Check it this video  (but make sure you’re not on your own!) and see why I felt so unnerved!

 

Another milestone for me…. First step in the journey for Michael Schumacher

Wait for it!!!!

Today I picked up a balloon as I do once a month to see if I’ve improved. And today I blew it up like I used to do before my stroke!  Normally, it’s hard but I get there.

But TODAY was different! My soft palate was closing right off – fully closed for the first time in three years! YES! I did it!!!!

Two years of balloon blowing and I GOT THERE!

Just thinking about Michael Schumacher* (See link below). Apparently  his neurology specialist says he’ll be an invalid for the rest of his life! Poor guy! But then, that’s  just what I was led to believe….and now I’m going on marathons!

Hey, you stick in there, Michael! No one knows what you can achieve, not even the medicos, and there’s enough people walking around today to prove it!

I should know! I’m one of them!

*http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/michael-schumacher-latest-retired-racing-driver-will-remain-an-invalid-for-the-rest-of-his-life-9549319.html