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A driving accident that brought me closer to my boyfriends family

IT project manager, living with partner, no children. They [family] didn't phone me until she was diagnosed with it [Guillain Barre Syndrome] in Intensive Care.

  • Because if you'd seen her a few weeks earlier, had she just had symptoms of a cold?
  • They [family] didn't phone me until she was diagnosed with it [Guillain Barre Syndrome] in Intensive Care;
  • And then when she got back, she started to lose the use of her legs and her hands and arms and couldn't pick things up;
  • And then, you know, next thing I know she was sort of in hospital with this thing that we didn't know what it was;
  • Because if you'd seen her a few weeks earlier, had she just had symptoms of a cold?
  • And she'd been away for the weekend and she'd had this all weekend and felt a bit strange.

So I didn't know she'd actually gone into hospital that day. I was phoned up when she'd been in overnight in Intensive Care. So by that point she was, you know, already on the ventilator and'. My mother phoned me. And then I, you know, basically just arranged to sort of have a couple of days off work so I could go down and see her.

It must have been quite a shock to hear - Yes. Because if you'd seen her a few weeks earlier, had she just had symptoms of a cold? Well, I'd just, the last thing I'd heard from her was, I'd had an email just saying that she'd had this awful flu but she was better.

Why Register?

And that was the last thing I'd heard. And then, you know, next thing I know she was sort of in hospital with this thing that we didn't know what it was.

  • Because if you'd seen her a few weeks earlier, had she just had symptoms of a cold?
  • So by that point she was, you know, already on the ventilator and';
  • I was phoned up when she'd been in overnight in Intensive Care.

She'd had sort of pins and needles in her fingers and her toes. And she'd been away for the weekend and she'd had this all weekend and felt a bit strange.

  • I was phoned up when she'd been in overnight in Intensive Care;
  • And then, you know, next thing I know she was sort of in hospital with this thing that we didn't know what it was;
  • So her friend took her to the hospital.

And then when she got back, she started to lose the use of her legs and her hands and arms and couldn't pick things up. So her friend took her to the hospital. With no warning whatsoever, peoples' lives were thrown into chaos. Not knowing whether the ill person would survive or whether they'd be permanently disabled, brain damaged or paralysed had been traumatic. At this time, most peoples' lives had revolved around the ICU, sitting at the patient's bedside, waiting for news.

Many people needed to make practical arrangements to enable them to visit ICU every day, including arranging child-care, care of elderly parents, pets and home.

Family roles and responsibilities often had to be changed, and normal daily chores and routines had fallen by the wayside as their whole existence focussed completely on the patient's survival.

Intensive care: experiences of family & friends

One woman said that, as well as dealing with the intensive care situation, her mother also had to care for her father, who was too ill to be left on his own. Most people only wanted to be with immediate family or very close friends at this difficult time. Often, doctors hadn't known the outcome, so relatives and close friends had no choice but to live day-to-day, focussing only on the moment in hand.

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