In 1989 I was diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation on my left lobe. Then I experienced a subarachnoid hemorrhage in 1992. I was in hospital for three months learning how to walk and write again, finally recovering full strength - but I was tiring easily and there was still the pesky avm to get sorted out. So I had a whole load of operations in the next five or six years including five embolisations and gamma ray treatment (Stereo-tactic radiotherapy treatment I think it's called). Unfortunately one of the embolisations resulted in permanant weakness to my right arm and leg. (I now use a mobility scooter when I'm out and staircases are still my nemesis).
After all this I eventually felt well enough to go back to work - but I overdid things and precipitated another bleed which put me back in bed. This time I was there for over eighteen months, so a craniotomy was decided on. This was in 1999 and as I said to my surgeons afterwards, "Thank you. You've given me my life back." I was much better but still very weak for a long, long time.
Depite the improvement this was a really low time. Both my parents died in fairly quick succession and all my friends seem to move away to other parts of the country, leaving me to mope around on my own, raging at whatever force from above had picked me out for special treatment.
But (happy ending!) since then my health has steadily improved - except for the right-side weakness, of course, and he headaches and nausea have gone onto the backburner and only pop up and say hello when I overdo things. After living with this fifteen years, staying in on my own watching tv and reading tatty novels, I decided enough was enough. I now had the confidence to face the real world again.
I plucked up all my courage and I moved to a small Cornish town on the coast where I knew no-one; I joined clubs to help meet people, and I started an Open University degree course in Humanities....and then I met someone special. We've been married now for two years and we live in an apartment looking out over a beautiful marina; we have a mad little dog; and I have become part of an huge extended family of in-laws, step-sons and daughters and four gorgeous granddaughters.
This may sound a bit cliche'ed and patronising to those of you going through hard times, but this is the best time of my life and, as I approach the age of sixty, I look back and now understand how lucky I have been Things could have been a hell of a lot worse - and if things had been different it would have meant that I wouldn't have met the love of my life.
Liz, thank you for everything.