June Lockdown Update

It’s been sometime since I updated my blog, over two years if I’m not mistaken.

Just thought I’d give a small update. If you see this, drop me a comment and let me know you guys are still around.

So, my recovery has quite frankly, been astounding Allaahumma baarik aameen. Over time I have had some very small changes such as regaining some sensation in various parts of my body (we’re talking about the size of a 5p coin) at a time and I’ve noticed these changes may not even be permanent in most cases, however, it certainly gives one hope that healing is continuously taking place. A lot of the time I choose to not share my small victories as I don’y want to get my hopes up and then be let down. Alhamdulillaah that’s not the case as I actually have my emotions under control and can remain moderate in most, if not all things.

So since 2018, I came to terms with the fact that I may ot actually be physically nor mentally able to home school my daughter which was always my dream. It took me the entire Ramadhaan that year to silently and privately come to terms with that decision. I later that year put her into nursery part time which was great for her social skills as I realised she was much like me since leaving hospital and didn’t like socialising much. In October 2019 I was given back my driver’s licence which gave me the freedom to leave my house independently. I started with very short local journeys of up to 5 minutes. I couldn’t fully be independent as car parks were somewhat an issue as a non-disabled person. Having to park a short distance from where I was going with a distracted 3 year old and often in weather conditions and temperatures that didn’t suit my body was a mission. Thankfully, I was soon given a blue badge which made my life incredibly easy. As much as I never wanted to be labeled disabled it has been an incredible blessing and it is a label I am fully proud of. I’m pleased to be able to represent the disabled community and being from a BAME background I’m in a position to dispell misconceptions and presumptions where possible. In January this year, I got my first permanent part-time job since falling ill and being on maternity leave. This has meant I am able to fund my healthy lifestyle once again and at the start of Ramadhaan this year I went back to being paleo. I went through a week long healing crisis but it helped me hit the reset button. Being paleo whilst having a child is very different to my previous life before I became a mother.

This year I have noticed so many incredible improvements in myself physically, mentally and with my general recovery post stroke. I’m so pleased to share that I maintain a positive outlook on life and would be nowhere without the love, blessings and mercy of Allaah. I am so undeserving yet so grateful. If Covid-19 wasn’t the main situation in life at the moment, i would absolutely love to revisit my therapists in rehab to show them just how far I have come. When I visited in 2018 they were proud of me then. I’m so pleased I was chosen to be a success story, I’m so pleased and grateful I have a second chance at life, to do good and to do better within my capabilites. My excitement and enthusiasm in writing a post after so long has worn me out so I’m going to wrap up here. I’m hoping to keep you guys up to date more often and start sharing my paleo creations all over again. This Ramadhaan I have become a complete banana bread addict, like most in lockdown, my love of yorkshire puddings is stronger than ever and I absolutely love my chocolate waffles, in fact I had one today!

Stay safe, wash your hands, God bless and please keep my daughter and I in your thoughts and prayers. A x

Parenting After Brain Injury Part 2

Today marks my 2 month walkiversary and it feels good to have my independence back. I’m so grateful to be home with my family and most importantly my daughter. My family are the most amazing support network anyone could ask for. They understand when I can and can’t do something, when I feel tired, my feelings and emotions, although they don’t fully understand it’s great that they know to just let me be me and whatever is going down is a part of who I am. A lot  more has happened in my life than I’m letting on and I have shared various details with very close friends or trustworthy people who I know won’t let me down. I’m a member of various stroke survivor websites and groups online. I often find some people giving up, swearing, having enough and sometimes wishing the stroke finished them off. I understand it, I really do although not once, alhamdulillaah (praise be to God), have I ever had that thought. In fact I shared a little more on a group today and this was a part of what I said in response to someone feeling sorry for me:

I couldn’t be happier with my life right now. Yes it’s hard but it’s been such an incredible experience and I wouldn’t swap it for anything else. I’m in early days compared to most people here. Stroke was August 1st. Was in rehab for 3 months. Been home almost 2 weeks and trying to be a mum to my now 19/20 month old baby girl. I haven’t been happier in life i don’t think. God bless me and my family 

I honestly don’t regret any of what I’ve been through in the last four to five months. Obviously we can’t regret a stroke because it’s not like we have control over it and it wasn’t a choice, especially in my case where I was born with something that has changed mine and my family’s life, probably for forever. As incredible as the journey has been, I don’t wish this hardship on anyone else. I’m in contact with some patients from rehab, some have been discharged and others are still on the unit, one in particular was messaging at 4am because of insomnia due to pain and I was awake because I was reluctantly co-sleeping with my toddler which basically meant her head was actually on my head for part of the night and I had to keep changing sides because she was all over the place. Anyway, I thought it’d be nice to share how I felt about my position in life right now. I could have been a lot worse than I am so I am grateful for that and so much more. If you think your life is bad, take a look at someone whose life is currently a little worse or harder than yours and be grateful. Your challenges in life could have been worse.

Speaking of challenges; my daughter. This post is after all, about parenting. I mentioned the first time my daughter saw me. The very moment and how I felt. My family could see that seeing my daughter made me happy although noone knew the pain I was feeling. It was a bittersweet. The most bittersweet feeling a person could ever have. I loved her and loved seeing her, in fact, I loved everything about her. All her “perfect imperfections”. If you’ve ever stayed in hospital for three or more days you’ll quickly discover magic fm is the favoured radio channel amongst most, if not, all hospital and ambulance staff. That song played whilst my daughter was visiting and thinking back to that moment, those words kinda fit. Seeing her was so sweet but the pain was what was bitter. After every physio session and after every false alarm to the toilet, I’d get back into bed and I’d be at an angle. I’d have to shuffle so I  was straight and more often than not I’d have to try to slide myself up the bed using my limbs which didn’t work properly at the time. Sometimes I’d just quit and be like ‘you guys are on your own right now, you shift me’.

My daughter came to visit me one time and I mimed round and round the garden like a teddy bear on her whilst my other sister said the words, hoping it would remind her of the relationship we once had. She wasn’t having any of it so I stopped and told my sister that was enough. They hung around for a few hours and as usual that was great. My daughter was very well behaved on most days and  the nurses absolutely adored her.

Pretty soon, I was told I was getting a wheelchair. I imagined a regular wheelchair but this one was a little funkier, comfy and had a neck and head support like Professor Stephan Hawkins’ one minus all his other gadgets. They started me off slowly. I had to sit in the chair (I make it sound so sinister) for an hour a day. ‘Easy’, I thought. The first day I did almost two hours and then the nurses made sure it was just an hour after that but pretty soon it was getting exhausting.  It wasn’t a matter of just sitting in a chair and that was it. I had to concentrate and put effort into sitting up. I’d have to actively think and try to engage the muscles in my core and force myself to sit straight. I couldn’t slump or relax, I had to pay attention to my posture and position. The moment I stopped concentrating, I would flop to the left but this never happened, I’m pleased to say. Unless I was demonstrating it to my family.

So how was I able to get from bed to chair I hear you ask. It was an amazing piece of equipment called a rotastand. Okay, it’s not that amazing and I only ever used it when I was in the Royal London hospital, but me and that thing were close! I truly believe having to lift myself on it engaged my core which helped strengthen my muscles and made sitting easier. Particularly on the day when I  had nine trips to the toilet and six of those were false alarms. Woohoo for the three that weren’t! I also had an Occupational Therapist who gave me my first test and established I only had to work on my higher level thinking so I made that hour in my chair fly by whilst doing sudokus, wordsearches and crosswords. I quite like crosswords now and the metro puzzle page was my best friend on weekday mornings at breakfast in rehab.

When my daughter first saw me sat in a chair she was less anxious around me, she was taking her healthy baby snacks from me and talking a little. She seemed less frightened of me. I was in awe of her when she was walking. I was, and am, so grateful. Occasionally, I’d cry tears of joy, thanking God that my child was okay. She was and still is, my most prized possession. I was so happy when I saw her each day. The pain was always there but my heart was filled with an abundance of joy and gratitude. I had to be patient, very patient. This was a long road (even longer than I initially thought). It was as if seeing me sat in a chair was one step closer to ‘normal’. My family were amazing at making me feel normal and really made me feel so proud of myself for being able to sit. They too, were very proud of me and happy because I could have died several times, I could have been paralysed but Thank God for His endless mercy, He made me able to progress, kept me safe and in good health. My memory was intact as was my intelligence, ability to understand and more.

There was one day where I felt nasty… you have bed baths and sadly that doesn’t include washing the hair. I asked when I could wash my hair. Turns out the nurses had to check with my doctors because the stitches, or rather, staples from my craniotomy were still in my head and that’s my biggest scar. First we had to establish if they could be removed and then when I could have my hair washed. Taking the staples out was painful and the sound was disgusting. I remember thinking surely being stapled couldn’t have hurt that much because I don’t remember that pain but cutting them out with clippers was loud painful and it was grazing my head. A while in I told the nurse to stop, she just finished throwing everything  away and told me she was nearly finished when I bucked up the courage to endure the pain. As soon as she was done clearing up I told her she could carry on. What can I say, I’ve always had terrible timing, ha.

One day, towards the end of my stay there, one nurse insisted on giving me an actual shower, up until now I had been told I was allowed to because of my trachiostomy, the tube and being hooked up to oxygen. This lovely nurse said she’d put a towel around my neck and my first shower in five weeks felt like the ultimate spa treatment. I felt amazing, I felt so clean and refreshed. That first shower was just days after Eid and I was slightly gutted I wasn’t squeaky clean in time for Eid and also gutted i missed Eid prayer in the park. Anyway, everytime I transferred from the bed to my chair it took one or two nurses, a whole bunch of unhooking and hooking me back up once I was settled into the chair. I even had to make sure my external bladder was with me at all times. I’ll never forget the day my physiotherapist hooked it onto his pocket and was so casual about it. He hooked a pee bag to his trousers. Gross. Even if it was mine. Still gross. But they’re used to it I suppose.

I remember being so proud of myself for getting out of bed. That rotastand was my best friend. It’s so sad. I saw a rotastand in rehab about a month or two after getting there, is it sad that I got excited?!

Everyday after seeing my daughter in the Royal London was progress for me. Seeing her motivated me and it gave me something to work towards. My recovery was getting faster, I was constantly laughing, joking and sometimes, up to no good.

I had always wanted to homeschool my daughter, being a teacher made me quite snobbish about schools and I frowned upon them. I didn’t know how long I’d be in that state, I didn’t know if If’d ever be remotely like my old self, i didn’t know if I could teach again. So I made plan, I told myself if I have no choice then I’ll put my daughter into school, reluctantly. She wasn’t attending playschool or toddler sessions yet, I was just looking into them before my stroke. I had to wait until she was a little more sociable and comfortable playing in the park because for me, that was a good indicator for how she’d be interacting when it comes to other children.

I wrote a note to my family telling them to enquire about a preschool near us that I mostly approved of. My family initially though I didn’t know my daughter’s age but I explained there was a waiting list and I need to apply just in case I wasn’t able to do what I planned. My daughter’s happiness was everything to me. Seeing my parents happy and grateful I was alive was everything to me. My dad is one of those soft and quiet guys, he is rather panicky if anything happened to his loved ones, especially his children and I’m the youngest in my family. I remember being very concerned about my dad and how he was feeling. I made sure he was always happy, smiling and okay. At the time he was in charge of looking after my daughter whilst I was in hospital since I was with my family when it all happened. I wrote a note for him on one occasion, “Always be happy and always smile for (daughter)”, it read. I folded it and stuck it in his pocket. No matter what happened to me I wanted to make sure my daughter was surrounded by love, laughter and happiness. This particular event happened before I found out my dad did CPR on me and was the first person to actually save my life, by God’s Will, of course.

As mentioned in my previous post, despite being through the worst of it all and surviving, my coughing would cause such bad headaches and being suctioned numerous times a day would cause so much pain I would turn beetroot red and felt like I might die on two particular occasions.

My family had continuously told m how brave and strong I was to endure what I had. Sever times my family wouldn’t complain of their pains or ailments because it was no comparison to what I had endured. Now though I can say this. My family were grieving, for the first three weeks of me being in hospital they were the strong ones, they had to be brave, my dad got so choked up about it he didn’t really talk to others for a good week or so. One of my sisters was ready to prepare for my funeral, another one was ready to raise my child the way I would have wanted. My family consistently showed patience and perseverance during that time. They had each other and their belief and faith in God. They prayed so hard and a close and strong family became even closer and even stronger. During that time I was just me. I did nothing. In fact, I pretty much slept through the whole thing so I didn’t have to be strong or brave, everything was being done to me without my knowledge so I just lay down and chilled. The time when I had to be strong, in my opinion is when I went to rehab from September 13th onward. That’s when I was grieving, not that I had lost anything but I had to come to terms with what had happened to me and how to go about getting through the next stage and not giving up. Truly, God is great, if I didn’t have my baby girl, I don’t know if I’d have been as motivated or determined as I was.

I now know and say, my daughter is my kryptonite. She is my one true weakness. She can break me. Yet she also has the ability to build me up again… Kids are great. They are a blessing and a gift from The Almighty ❤

Parenting After Brain Injury Part 1

As mentioned in my previous post, in the years that I’ve been away from blogging, I got married and had a child. Alongside my full time job of teaching primary, baking wedding cakes part time, I was a mother to the most amazing little girl (I know we all say that but it’s true) she made me so happy in every way and she was breastfed so we had a very tight and close relationship. She was skeptical of new people, just like her mama. Being my first child, I wasn’t one of those worry wart mamas because I had plenty of experience with my many nieces and nephews. Motherhood came easily to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’d share news of her first tooth, second, third, fourth and so on, when she crawled, learnt to walk and just about everything on facebook. I felt gutted when she was teething one time and I didn’t notice. My poor baby was playing up and I couldn’t figure out why. We were extremely close, went to the park, crawled through our first tunnel together and went down slides (well she did, I watched and cheered her on). Mama got very tired lifting her up because she could only crawl up steps at that point and park steps were not brilliant. Mama was hoping she would be multilingual so she was learning Arabic. At age 15 months, that’s when my madam’s life changed. Her mama put her into bed and then suddenly she was gone. Madam woke up confused and silent in my sister’s bed the following morning. They were both awake and the feeling of trepidition hung over them. Someone had to stay with my baby girl whilst my parents were with me in hospital as well as some of my siblings, their husbands and the older children. At this point I had a head drain and was on life support due to not being able to breathe on my own and having a partially collapsed lung. My family are simply the best, someone was by my side consistently for the entire four and a half months and in the early days, overnight too, calling whilst I was in critical care, taking it in turns to pray over me, play Qur’aanic recitation and play audios of my daughter. It’s true what they say, people in comas can hear so talk to them and make it count.

There were times when I was highly sedated and agitated, failing to calm me down, the doctors and nurses let my sisters into calm me down and only these audios and sounds would help me. I distinctly remember hearing Qur’aan and my sister say “Focus on the words” whilst the other played audios of my daughter. This resulted in a strange dream where my entire family were there and it focused on my sisters’ and mine role as a mother to our daughters and everyone in the dream being worried about my daughter because she was the youngest of the granddaughters. It makes sense to me now but even at the time it was an extremely emotional and touching dream (it was a you-had-to-be-there kinda thing).

As I previously mentioned, my daughter was the last thing I was thinking about and when I woke up properly, my first memory was the two lovely, chirpy and giggly physiotherapists asking me to sit on the edge of my bed. I didn’t know at the time but as soon as I had woken up I was able to communicate by writing to my family. I was telling them everything and asking questions.  Apparently one of the first things I did when I came to, post coma was ask for my daughter. My signal was doing to pigtails on my head with my hands and somewhere along the lines, in my dreams(?) I remember saying “Bring (daughter) to me she can make me better.”, the spookiest thing about that is  my sister quoted those exact same words to me. So did I dream them, write them or say them?? Either way, you get the point. That girl means the world to me and she was always in my thoughts.

I have been shown sheets of paper with my scribblings on them, me asking for my daughter and underlining her name thrice (indicates importance to me). Anyway, after leaving ITU, I was on the neurophysio ward and maybe a week later… I felt ready, I wanted to see my baby girl, to hold her, hug her and kiss her despite being bed ridden and really only being able to use my right arm and hand to write. I was in bed, had a catheter, cannulas, a nasogastic (NG) tube feeding me via my nose and going directly to my stomach, I had a tube coming out of my neck from the tracheostomy hooking me up to oxygen and about half my head was shaved in a couple of places. I was in a gown and in an unfamiliar place whilst looking extremely unfamiliar. The day had arrived, in walked my baby girl holding my eldest sister’s hand with back up in the form of my eldest nephew to help keep my daughter calm, hot on her heels. My sister picked up my daughter and showed her mama. She said it, she called me mama, she knew who I was, this was easy! But oh no, it was far from easy…

My daughter was clinging for dear life on to my sister screaming her head off like she was pleading not to go to this strange being in bed who she knew she recognised clearly. I kissed my hand and placed it on her cheek, that was the closest to a kiss I got. It hurt. It hurt so bad. I cared about her whilst I was in pain and agony and having a stroke, I dreamt of her in my coma and when sedated. I cared for her and loved her so much and that was the affection I got in return. I was already hurting physically, coughing up secretions hurt my head and being suctioned directly from my neck by nurses made me turn beetroot red as my family described and it felt as if someoene was tearing my soul from me but my body was physically fighting to stay on the bed. Twice I wrote “Please don’t let me die”, once i was through the worst of it. On top of all that physical pain, I was struck with this emotional grief. My daughter didn’t like me anymore. Forget loving me, she didn’t even like me. But I had to muster the strength, courage and bravery from somewhere. After surgery I had a smile plastered to my face and I maintained this smile. I had to be strong for her, I had to be normal for her. I put my feelings aside and just played the typical Mama role, I asked if she was brushing her teeth yet, she was 16 months old by this time. I pretended to not be affected by her reaction, put it aside and did what I knew best; be a pestering mother!

Seriously, the doctors who saved my life and the nurses and therapists who looked after me whilst I was at The Royal London hospital have mine and my family’s eternal gratitude. I can’t wait to go back and visit them. Despite the threat to their lives I was a top patient (their words, not mine!)

25508129_10156027930138223_1277945532128337768_n

“What really happened?”

25395796_10156027930023223_7474820159848170782_n

“Why is it not safe?” – Something about risks before/after my final surgery. I was eavesdropping on a conversation between the doctor and my family. He then spoke to me directly but that was a waste of time because I don’t remember a thing, ha.

25395808_10156027930443223_4463561362861925570_n

“Sajdah ash shukr” – prostrate to God and give thanks – clearly I was happy ❤

25442778_10156027930368223_8650425877479908635_n

*shrug* But I was apparently frustrated when nobody could understand this.

25396111_10156027931193223_946361129761396537_n

From another angle it reads “FTake the tube out”

25399059_10156027930583223_1284700073842721972_n

“Where are my family? Tell them” This may have been when I was being moved or taken to surgery. I don’t know.

25396049_10156027930538223_7625872405351522071_n

“Soooooooo good. Badass” – describing my doctors LOL – this was also based on what I was dreaming about and later…. I was actually trying to kill doctors by strangling them and grabbing their lanyards… haha, oh dear… My Mum was saying I was offering to bake them cakes one moment and trying to kill them the next, it  was funny at the time, if you weren’t a doctor treating me

25446448_10156027929853223_7455066437683589848_n

Asking for my daughter and where she is. I was too out of it to remember the answer or who I asked or writing this.

Remedies from the Sunnah Part 2

It’s finally here!! I do apologise from the bottom of my gluten free heart. I have been busy lately and also struggling with food.

So… Health and the Sunnah!

Ibn Qayyim said: After guidance the next blessing is our health.

We need to fulfil our duty with our health and being healthy is from the Sunnah.

We learn that for every disease there is a cure:

“…There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its remedy.” Bukhaari 7,582.

Thus, there is no such thing as an incurable disease (except old age).

We learn that eating healthily is from the Sunnah:

Four Aayaat relating to this in the Qur’aan:

  1. “O mankind, eat which is halaal and tayyib …” (Al-Baqarah, 2:168)Ibn kathir explains this as meaning that which doesn’t harm the body or harm your mind.
  2. “Eat from what Allah has provided you as halaal and tayyib, and fear Allah in whom you believe.” (Al-Maa’idah, 5:88)
  3. “So, eat of the spoils you have got, halaal and tayyib, and fear Allah. Surely, Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful.” (Al-Anfaal, 8:69)
  4. “Eat from the good things (tayyibaat) We have provided to you, and do not exceed the limits in it, lest My wrath should descend on you…” (Taa-Haa, 20:81)

So now we have the commands how can we do this? Let’s take a look…

Importance of Breastfeeding:

There ate three Ayaat in the Qur’aan relating to this:

  1. “Mothers (should) suckle their children for two full years, for one who wants to complete the (period of) suckling…” (Al-Baqarah, 2:233)
  2. “We commanded man (to be good) in respect of his parents. His mother carried him (in her womb) despite weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years…” (Luqmaan, 31:14)
  3. “…His mother carried him with difficulty and delivered him with difficulty. And his carrying and his weaning is (in) thirty months*, …” (Fussilat, 41:15)

*here 30 months includes the minimum period of pregnancy, that is 6 months and the maximum period for suckling a child, that is 2 years. So 6 months plus 24 months is the full two years.

As we all know that breastfeeding an infant increases intelligence, immunity, decreases risks of diabetes, obesity, risks of infections, asthma, allergies etc.

However, what the World Health Organisations (WHO) and other similar organisations don’t tell you is that if you don’t breast feed your baby you are putting them at risk of exposing them to the above diseases. For instance not breastfeeding your baby and switching to bottle feeding increases the risk of diabetes and obesity. This message, when put this way is more alarming. (As a side note, have you seen how many formula milks contain soya amongst other rubbish? I had a look out of curiosity!)

Wean your child correctly:

Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah said: “A child should be given only milk until their teeth appear, because their stomachs are weak and unable to digest food. When the baby’s teeth appear, his stomach has grown strong and is able to be nourish by food. Food should be introduced gradually.” Book: Tuhfat al-Mawdood bi Ahkaam al-Mawlood. 16th chapter.

Do not force feed them into eating when they are not ready. Instead wait another week and try again until they are interested in food.

With that I shall conclude and inshaaAllaah the next part which you won’t have to wait long for I hope, we will look at fasting and praying and the benefits of each briefly.