It was the bank holiday weekend at the end of May 2013, Saturday the 25th to be exact, and my girlfriend and I were intending to go to Bath on a shopping trip.
My name is Kevin Eggleton and I was 31 at the time. I had felt quite tired and run down for a couple of weeks, but nothing specific that you would go to your doctor about. I had quite a busy, physical job so didn't think too much about it and thought I'd feel back to myself in a week or two.
But on the day in question I felt a little dizzy and sick so had a lie down then went to the bathroom and was sick. Within seconds the sweat was dripping off me as if I'd just got out of the shower, I told my girlfriend that I felt really ill and that I think she should call the Police - I meant the ambulance but was starting to get confused.
As soon as the paramedics came and asked me to do different tasks they quickly came to the conclusion I was having a stroke. The paramedic decided straight away to call the air ambulance. All I can remember about being in the helicopter is how loud it was and that I was trying to say something to the paramedic but was unable to talk and telling myself in my head not to fall asleep in case I didn't wake up.
That's all I can remember for about three to four weeks.
It was decided en route to take me to The Royal United Hospital, Bath, to stabilise me further before I was transferred on to Frenchay.
It turned out I'd had a subarachnoid haemorrhage, basically a bleed on the brain. A blood vessel had burst on the base of my brain and the blood that should've gone to my brain went between my brain and skull.
I was in intensive care and my parents were warned it was 50/50 whether or not I took a turn for the better or worse. I had an operation to release the pressure on my brain, basically a hole made in my skull as the blood was putting pressure on my brain and also had a pipe coming out the side of my head to drain off the excess fluid as I also had fluid on the brain.
I spent nearly 11 weeks in hospital in all.
I had physio to enable me to walk unaided as I'd walk like I was drunk. My eyesight has been damaged. Although I can see my sight is blurred and out of focus. My eyes work ok but the way my brain was damaged means it doesn't correctly read the signals from my eyes. My left side is stiff and heavy and aches, but I have movement and can walk well and though I struggle in unfamiliar or busy places due to my sight, I can generally see enough to get by - it's not often I walk into things!
I lost my job as I could no longer drive or physically do it anymore and a few months after the bleed my girlfriend and I split up. It's been a hard period and just about everything in life has changed but, in all, things could have been a lot, lot worse and I'm positive about life now.
The success of my recovery has been, in part at least, due to the speed of me getting to hospital.
The bleed has turned out to be from a gene defect which causes my blood vessels to be weaker and more fragile than normal. Amongst some other joint issues I’d always been a little hyper-mobile (or double jointed as it’s commonly called) in my knees and fingers, but it had never caused a problem, but it’s all part of the defect as it affects the connective tissue between my joints, meaning they have a larger movement range than normal. It’s thought to affect between 1 in 150,000-250,000 people.
It can't be treated and the likelihood is that it'll happen again across the course of my life, but with regular scans and various different tablets we can hopefully lessen the chances.
I have since been back to Wiltshire Air Ambulance to meet and thank Jo, the paramedic who treated me that day, as well as to the ward at the RUH, to pass on my thanks.
I'm extremely thankful to the air ambulance for getting me to the hospital so quickly and along with the staff at Frenchay, it's no exaggeration to say I owe my life to them.
I donate to Wiltshire Air Ambulance on a monthly basis by playing their lottery, it's £1 a week - you'd spend more on a pint in the pub! They are also a named beneficiary in my will. I have also donated to the appeal for the new airbase at Semington, as well as the helicopter mosaic, where you can have your photo on a helicopter at the front of the new airbase.
It makes me feel I'm giving a little something back to those that helped me, aids them to help others and it's important to remember that Wiltshire Air Ambulance relies purely on donations and can easily be taken for granted. You truly never know when you may need it. I didn't until that Saturday morning, but I'm extremely thankful it was there for me. Everyone in Wiltshire is extremely lucky to have such a service and should give it all the help it needs to make sure it continues.