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Gaynor's getting the chop for PKAVS

20th April 2018

Gaynor, was Only 30 when she suffered an Arachnoid Brain Haemorrhage, a bleed in the brain stem).  After two weeks of recovery, she suffered what the doctors described as a massive re-bleed which almost killed her. 

At the end of 1988, Gaynor joined her husband in Germany where he was serving as a member of the Royal Air Force.  Life was good, Gaynor worked as a Club assistant in the Bowling alley at RAF Laarbruch.   The children had also really taken to living in Germany, had made friends with the local kids as well as other service kids. Plenty of activities on the camp including a cinema, a swimming pool, youth club as well as a progressive and well planned school.  Plans were being made to take a big camping holiday around part of Europe, taking in Southern Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland, before returning to their home just inside the Dutch/German Border.Gaynor smiling

On a normal weekly bases, the kids, 11 and 10, thought it was brilliant that they could travel into another country to buy fruit and veg every from a Dutch Market every Saturday morning. In reality, the veg stall was just 15 minutes from the flat and sat on the Dutch side of the border.

On the 30th March 1990. Gaynor’s,  and her family’s life was turned upside down, when she suffered the brain haemorrhage.  She was taken to the medical centre on camp and then admitted to the RAF Hospital at Wegberg some 40 miles away where the haemorrhage was confirmed. After 24 hours she was transferred by the RAF medics on a special ‘CasiVac’ (Casualty Evacuation, later more commonly known as a medical evacuation or Medevac), aircraft and taken to the London Hospital for Neurology, where she was treated as a private patient, paid for by the RAF.  The RAF really do look after their own and the families when needed.

The next 13 months were the worst hell a family can go through. After the second bleed, Gaynor went downhill so fast her husband was told that her survival was in minutes and hours and she went through an emergency operation to save her life. He was with Gaynor in London after having driven from Germany with the kids and left them in Wales with their grandparents. Initially Gaynor was unconscious and started to come around after about a week.   Within a few days she started to fail again and the doctor said he didn’t know for sure what was wrong.  He had an idea, but it would mean another operation, which she may not survive anyway. Her husband had the agonising decision to make whether to leave her and hope for a recovery or allow another operation. She came though that operation but it soon became clear that substantial damage had been caused. She was awake but nobody could work out how extensive the damage was. Apart from instinctive actions for example, panic when a nurse was moving her from a sitting to a lying position. There was no other sign of cognitive awareness at all.  The family had travelled up from Wales to see her, but there was no response or recognition from her. Another few weeks and she went down again. Another emergency operation, but afterwards the doctors said to us that it had made little difference to her and once again her survival was measured in hours.  She was unconscious again and they placed her on life support.  Her husband was told to fetch the family to say their farewells.

In that moment, her husband whispered to her “They’ve written you off Love, please don’t let them be right”, and left to travel to Wales.  That night he had to explain to the children that Mum was very Ill in Hospital and would probably go to heaven in a very short time.   Having to explain that was the worst moment in his life.  The following day the whole family travelled back to London to see Gaynor fearing the worst.  To their amazement, not only was she still alive but was off the life support machine.  She was still unconscious, but at least she was breathing by herself.   The doctor explained that as the drugs to immobilise her had started to wear off, Gaynor started to fight the machine with her breathing, so they were able to remove the tubes.   The elation was short lived when the doctor took her husband to one side and side that this was only a temporary state of affairs as the latest scan confirmed extensive damage to just about the whole left hand side of the brain.  The best that they could do would be to move her to Cardiff to be closer to her family when the time came.

After a few weeks in RookWood Hospital, in Cardiff she was examined by the specialist who announced that nothing more could be done and she should be transferred to a hospice, for her last days.   The ward sister, Sister Mac as she was known, a massive woman in size and stature stood firmly in front of them and said, “That lady is not going anywhere!” The sister continued, “She has only been here a short while and as sorry a state as she is in, she can be rehabilitated and I’m not letting you deny her of that chance.”  A few weeks later the recovery although very slow, started to take effect.  At this point Gaynor’s condition was:  Paralysed down the right hand side of the body. Could not talk. Could not see. Could not get out of bed. Could not eat or drink. Was not aware of her surroundings.  Her body weight dropped to less than 4 stone.   On a positive note, she recognised her husband’s voice.  Leading up to Christmas 1990 the doctors allowed her to come home just for weekends. It was  quite a logistical operation, but with nurses, her husband and family support it was managed. It was that decision that set her on the road to recovery and to prove that Sister Mac was right to stand her ground. She will always be remembered for her actions.Gaynor Chop

After that, Gaynor’s fight for recovery was clearly determined.  She fought every day, to make some improvement.  The recovery was slow, and sometimes she became frustrated, but she still fought.   Now, 26 years later, she has made remarkable progress.  She has such a zest for life, a wicked sense of humour and is willing to have a go at anything.  Her condition is now: A noticeable weakness on the right hand side of her body, she can walk small distances with a cane. Can talk but with difficulty, is still blind in one eye with only partial sight in the other.  She can eat but her food still has to be cut for her. She is well liked, some would say loved, by all her friends in the various clubs she attends and captures the hearts of whoever she meets, wherever she goes.

This is the second time that Gaynor has shaved her hair for Charity.  The first time was in 2007 in South Wales in support of the Lakota Indian Tribe in America. They had a particular hard winter, lost their crops and were short of everything, from Housing to tea cups and food. For that she raised over £1,000.00.

Gaynor Chop Group picture

From Left to Right - Tanya Black (Owner), Gaynor, Lindsay Duthie (Hairdress who will be cutting Gaynor's hair), Nikki Colligan, Emeli New

If you would like to donate to Gaynor's fundraising total you can make a donation via our Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/pkavs/gaynorsheadshave 

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