Andrew and I have been together for 36 years.  We had a nice lifestyle, we'd both done well career-wise and were nicely set up; we have a love of things like the theatre and cinema, eating out, wine - and lots of it - and travel.  We'd had a pretty charmed life but all of that changed on December 19th, 2013.

We'd had a dinner party and gone to bed.  Andrew has always sleepwalked and that night he got up in his sleep, made a wrong turn and fell down the stairs.  I was quite hysterical calling 999 and then when the paramedics arrived.  I was at the hospital all night until the nurses made me go home.

Of course, the whole house was decorated ready for Christmas.  I got home and cleared up from the party but I couldn't bear to be around that Christmas tree - it was absolutely inappropriate that was there when Andrew was in that state in hospital.  I dumped it outside and it was gone within half an hour; good, I thought, at least someone will get some joy from it.

There's a real issue with the NHS being a lottery; you can get things if you are intelligent and find your way around the system and are prepared to fight.  But I worry for those people that accept what they are first told and won't or can't fight.

When we came home Andrew needed a care team.  What I found really difficult was suddenly having a stranger in my house.  It felt like my home was being torn apart, with Andrew sleeping in the dining room, a carer using our spare room, and another carer sitting in the living room.  But we've built ourselves a really good team now.  People have asked about the care staff we want and that's easy - male or female, black or white, gay or straight I simply don't care, I'm just interested in their skills.  We spend a lot of time working through exercises that the physios have trained us in; Andrew gets stroppy about it sometimes, and he gives us a lot of abuse.  But he doesn't really want to give up, and I won't allow him to give up.

Continue to do wonderful things

I don't think we'll stay here forever; we're both getting older and I need to think about how I'll cope.  You have to think about getting more frail.  Andrew doesn't have family and so is concerned about what will happen if I go first.  So we'll have to look at that in time and find somewhere that can offer some support if we need it.  But that's for the future.

I feel desperately sad for what has happened, but at no point during this journey have I felt sorry for myself.  I'm retired but it feels like I have a full time job again.  Only now I don't get evenings and weekends off!  And yet I feel fulfilled.  I'd rather it had not come about in these circumstances but I have found strength and talents that I didn't know I had.

I can't have Andrew exactly as he was.  But I would always rather have him as he is now than not at all, and on the night of the accident we were within five minutes of not at all.  Andrew sometimes says to me, 'We've done some wonderful things in life.'  And yes we have.  But we're also going to continue to do wonderful things together, we'll just have to do them in different ways.

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