Blog

Valentine’s Day

I spent a long time with Will as it was my last day with him before leaving on Thursday morning, back to the USA.  I met with Sara Reeve, Richard and Karen Hartley (who are thankfully over their nasty flu) and gave them all hugs for being so kind. Sara continues to go in every afternoon before going home and writes in the diary, bless her.

He was sat in his chair at 10:30 when I arrived on the ward, so I took him for a walk along the corridors so he could see outside and look at the trees and sky, something he hasn’t been able to do for nearly a year. Imagine that for a moment!

I left my iPod which can play radio as well as play songs, so he had an hour listening to a meditation track plus some Radio 2 and sounds of the beach and waves from the Caribbean.  I have left it plugged into the panel behind so it is fully charged and ready to play anytime you visit.  If anyone wants to add tunes to it, bring your laptop and transfer some songs onto it (unfortunately it doesn’t work with Apple Music, just your downloaded files).  I also played him some ‘System 7’ from my iPhone which he loves.

He also had physio with the two lovely therapists who are taking close notes on how he responds to moving his fingers and thumbs on command. He’s got plenty of clothes in his suitcase to wear and today he was wearing his famous blue jumper! 

He is on a waiting list for the Putney SMART facility but there are 4 others waiting to be transferred there from this hospital alone but we know miracles seem to happen to our Will, so fingers crossed.

A huge thank you to Christina who came to see him over the weekend and Chris, Maya and Carla on Monday. Please try to go in during the week if you can. He needs all the stimulation he can get to keep his spirits high and his attention out!

The ward senior sister, Yougall, is wonderful, as are all of the onurses, Carlos, Charley and Patricia who are treating him as a real person and talk to him all the time they care for him.

I will keep you as up to date as possible and if you have pictures of your visit or have information you want everyone to know, please email them to me via this website or PM me on Facebook Messenger.

Will’s youngest visitor

Jemma Robinson and her newborn, Jack are new visitors to Will in the Tilgate Ward. Jemma’s mum is the wonderful Sara Reeve who co-ordinates the ambulances and was responsible for getting Will picked up from Gatwick on his arrival.

Jemma is on maternity leave and will come in and read to Will from Bill Bryson and Spike Milligan books, but if you have some other suggestions of books you know he likes, please let me know.  Apparently Jack was enthralled by Will on his visit yesterday – a touch of the Willster magic!

Come and visit whenever you can and give him the direct love and support he needs. You never know how much it means to him.

Neuro rehab

Although I don’t have too many details yet, the recent MRI scans show enough for the team of doctors, physios and occupational therapists to offer neurological rehabilitation to Will with a possible move to a specialist unit in Putney where they utilize the SMART assessment system pioneered by Helen Gill.

There is of course a waiting list as these positions are for long term patients, but he will be able to remain in the Tilgate ward until he can be moved.

He is receiving physio, neuro-physio and speech therapy from a wonderful team who are focusing on him standing, sitting, responding to commands and ways to begin using his vocal chords again. When you haven’t spoken for a day or two, you know how long it takes to get your voice back, so imagine what it might be like after 10 months.

I have also been filling out a profile of what he likes and dislikes with the help of his friends and my own knowledge of him, so the staff are realizing what a funny, smart, loving chap he is.  I have also left a copy of ‘Ricky’s Thesaurus’, which is one of the books he designed and wrote with Clive Collins (Phil’s brother), so the staff can see the fruits of his labours.

We don’t need any further donations just now but may do later on if there is something he needs, but in the meantime he needs your visits and hand holding to break up the long days. There is a diary for you to write in when you see him and I’m sure he will appreciate looking back at all of them when he is able.

10 months on

#WillWelch It’s been exactly 10 months since his accident and I am happy to report that Will had his gastrostomy yesterday (a “peg” as they call it).  He can now be fed through this with greater volume to build him up and without the restrictions of that awful nose tube, which has gone at long last.

Here he is relaxed and snoozing looking much more like his old self again, but in need of a good shave.  I will be up to see him again tomorrow.

 

 

Recent visits

Will is working well with physio, neuro-physio and occupational therapists and was sat up in a chair on Friday morning to do strength tests and exercises to see how well the brain/body connection was responding.

He is being carefully evaluated and assessed for his current and long term needs and there is a plan slowly beginning to emerge.

Friends Simon, Jason and Chloe from Hereford and Elaine, who flew over from Spain, all came to visit on Friday and Chris and Maya came in on Saturday.

Delighted to see Brigitte Jaquillard and Helena Dennison today plus Richard & Yvonne Paddon back again for another visit today, on their way back down to Devon.

He will probably have his gastrostomy early this week and then see about the tracheo hole later on.

He has a great set of photos on the wall, plus a steam train calendar, to show the doctors and nurses the Will we all know.

Please make time to visit, as he really enjoys having people hold his hand and talk to him as well as remind him of how he is in a safe place with friends nearby.

Visiting Will

Will is now settled into his new routine and is warm, comfortable and enjoying a good snore. It was quite a nice surprise when I heard him use his voice for the first time, breathing out, now that his tracheo hole has been completely covered.

It is pretty certain that he will have a gastrostomy to aid feeding and take that awful tube out of his nose, even though the one he has had since his arrival has been smaller in diameter.  He will be going for a quick op to have this done under a local anesthetic.

So, if you would like to start visiting him, you can do so starting tomorrow (Thurs).

How to find his room: He is at East Surrey Hospital, Canada Avenue, Redhill RH1 5RH. Park in the visitors car park and enter through the East Entrance.  Walk through the main doors and continue until you reach the corridor and turn right.  Follow the corridor until you see Acute Medical Ward on the left.  Walk straight through the outpatients area and follow the signs to Bay 4. He is in Room 5, which is the first on the right.  Please make sure you use the hand sanitisers before going into the room.

How to be with him: The best way to be with him is to take hold of his left hand and call his name in your normal voice.  He will normally be sleeping so give him time to come round.  He will usually look straight at you but sometimes just stares straight ahead.  You can hold onto his hands but will only feel movement in his left hand.

Be aware that the nursing staff will need to come in to aspirate and clean his mouth so as it is a very small private room you may have to vacate when they do this.

Diary/visitors book:
There is a diary/visitors book in the room, so please state when you visited and leave your personal message to him.

Frances and Denise return to Lima:
Denise was in for the last time yesterday and gave him a final leg massage and some physio.  I dropped them both off this morning at Gatwick and they departed despite the fog and frosty weather.   Denise was in every day and is probably looking at some well deserved time off when she gets home.

Bon voyage and thank you to both of you for bringing him safely home.

Sunday visit

Graciously taking time out from their Sunday off, ambulance team Richard & Karen Hartley and logistics manager Sara Reeve spent time with us after my arrival from San Francisco so we could talk about the ongoing arrangements being negotiated. Richard & Karen will be taking Will to any outpatient service he needs in their ambulance and I know he will be in good hands.

And I can’t quite believe this, but Sara has offered to let any of Will’s friends who have a long way to travel, to stay overnight at her home nearby!  How amazing is that!! If you need to do this, get in touch with me and I will connect you to her.

I gave them all small gifts of appreciation on your behalf.

Sara Reeve, Denise, Karen and Richard Hartley come and say hello to Will on their day off.

Maya Marchington also came in to update me on the important steps that are needed to ensure Will is represented legally and again my thanks go to her for getting him here. It took a great deal of hair pulling, nail biting and investigation with serious legal connections to pull this off and we are very lucky she is such a powerful negotiator. Hear her latest broadcast on BBC Hereford with Toni McDonald and Elliott Webb here.

There are still many decisions to make and I will be with the consultants today to find out what the scans indicate.  Please wait until we get the clearance for friends to visit as this room is just temporary until he is moved into the appropriate ward.