Learning to Live Without you
By the Ahmed Family.
On a bitterly cold and icy afternoon on Friday January 18th 2013, our beloved daddy ji was on his way to read Friday prayers at his local mosque when he unexpectedly slipped on some ice. A simple fall that changed the course of his life…and turned his wife and five children’s world inside out forever.
Years of severe athritis in the neck meant that our daddy ji was apparently a ‘ticking time bomb;’ any small knock to the head would have had the same outcome: a spinal cord injury. The few months that followed the devastating accident were spent at the National Spinal Injuries Centre in Stoke Mandeville Hospital; as a family, we tried to make sense of what had just happened…why had his body suddenly stopped functioning from the neck down…why did he have to breathe through a tube from a hole in his neck, why is he looking at us so helplessly for answers when we had none…
Words like ‘tetraplegic,’ ‘tracheostomy,’ ‘C2 Injury’ were thrown at us – Google search became a go to for the entire family, searching for information to try and piece together some answers to the questions swirling around our heads and hearts like a bad storm…
Months turned into a year at Stoke Mandeville so maa and the second eldest daughter rented a flat nearby as it was too far to travel from the family home in Southall. Maa was with our daddy ji from early hours of the morning to late in the evening everyday, the nurses pleaded with her to go home and rest, ‘have a day off…she never listened…
After 18 months of physio and care at Stoke Mandeville, we saw no improvement in our daddy jis condition…we were still hopeful at this stage that he would be able to move his arms or walk… “soon, it will be soon”. He was eventually discharged from the hospital after the consultant stated that there was nothing else they could do to help his injury and perhaps taking him ‘back home’ maybe the best cure. So my maa and sister located to a ‘half way house’ whilst the new family home was adjusted to allow for wheelchair access. The old family house sold, the old life replaced by a new one full of uncertainty…
There were so many days where hope seemed to have left us…where trips to hospital due to infections became ‘normal’…where resuscitating daddy ji felt like we were watching a movie of someone else’s life…days where we didn’t even notice the endless tears spilling down our cheeks.
But there were also days of happiness, joy, strength and sheer determination to make things better for daddy ji. Trips to restaurants that served his favourite foods, family gatherings where we lavished him and each other with love and affection, hugs and words of hope and encouragement exchanged, “we got this.” And the day we finally moved into the new house in November 2016, adapted to Daddy jis needs.
In December 2017 daddy ji got his mojo back, this came in the form of cycling, an activity he enjoyed at Stoke Mandeville in the early days.
He used a specialised bike to exercise his limbs that kept his blood sugar levels to a manageable level. He asked his youngest daughter to enquire about how he might be able to get one…well the joy of him asking was enough… “he wants to get better and he’s trying to do something other than lying in bed and watching TV, it means he hasn’t given up hope, yay!”
So the youngest daughter embarked on a fundraising journey in 2018 and pledged to run at an organised event every month for a year. The rest of the family pledged their own fundraising ideas; we all felt like we were doing something to help, cllectively.
The battle continued in 2018, daddy ji’s condition seemed to get worse…there were a lot of dark days where we all felt numb with pain. Towards the end of the year we nearly lost him…he came back to us but in the process we lost hope…he had to be fed by a tube, a massive blow to him as he loved his food so much, a colostomy bag had to be fitted, loss of memory and dementia also kicked in which was heart breaking, particularly for maa as she was losing her husband slowly and painfully.
January 2019 saw the completion of the pledged fundraising and the target for daddy ji’s specialised trike was met, thanks to the generosity and support from family and friends. We talked about ordering the exercise bike but daddy ji’s carers advised against it due to his deteriorating health…. “wait for a few months until his health improves and his bed sores get a little better’ it never did.
In the beginning of July 2019, daddy ji was admitted to hospital due to another infection – we know now that his vital organs had been deteriorating rapidly over the last few months. Maa, a pillar of strength stayed by his bedside from morning until night and on the 10th July at 11.10am
after six and a half years of fighting, daddy ji let go…he left us…we barely managed to utter a few prayers wishing that his departure from this life would be peaceful. The sense of loss we all felt whilst clutching to his feet, his hands, his arms, his sweet peaceful face is indescribable.
Six month later we’re still asking ourselves ‘did the past seven years actually happen’…’has daddy ji actually gone’….physically we’ve all been on a sort of crusade if you like, to honour his memory the best way we can…a trip to Pakistan going to all the places he wanted to take us, feeding his entire village at a wake we organised, donating to causes that resonate with us, trying to do things for ourselves that helps to ease the pain…but it’s hard.
We’re still learning how to live without him.
One way in which our family have decided to honour the memory of our father is to take the funds raised for his bike, thanks to the generosity of everyone who donated, and put it towards a community he became a part of. Five Dragon trikes were purchased from Tomcat SNI Ltd; a single speed trike for independent teenagers and adults up to 120kg and suitable for multi-user environments. An additional Dragon Trike was donated by Tomcat – the Ahmed family are so very grateful for the kindess shown by everyone.
The Six trikes will be donated to various organisations chosen by our maa, whose users will hopefully experience the joys, thrill and health benefits of cycling.
This is our daddy ji’s story and hopefully it will continue through the legacies he has left behind.
The Ahmed family.
For further information about Spinal cord injury visit: https://www.aspire.org.uk/