One devoted woman has painted a heartbreaking picture of her husband’s demise from the enigmatic character she married to severe brain damage – all because he had no idea he hadn’t been vaccinated against measles.
At one point where people were advised to turn off his life support machine, Tracey Dyer, 49, refuses to give up on Paul, 50, with whom she had her happiest time since starting in 2007 and tied the knot two years later Has.
But she has strongly warned people not to turn down the MMR bump the NHS is now giving babies and toddlers to protect against measles, mumps and rubella after measles turned the man she loves into a shell of his former self .
Now crowdfunding to pay for adjustments to a bungalow so Paul can get home from the nursing home he lives in in time for Christmas. Tracey of Stroud, Gloucestershire said, “People told me I was entitled to go away and start over.
“That won’t happen. Paul and I are in love and we have made a vow.
“I know doctors are very skilled, but they don’t know Paul the way I do. No one can say for sure what type of recovery he will make, if any, but there are times when I can take a look at the elderly I can only hold on to the hope that it is still in there somewhere. “
When Paul was suddenly struck by the cold symptoms in September 2017, he and Tracy, who had to close the taxi business they ran together, assumed he had a simple winter mistake.
But within a few days a rash broke out on his body and he eventually ended up in the hospital where doctors diagnosed measles and placed him in an induced coma to give his body a chance to fight.
Tragically, he has been severely brain damaged and despite Tracey’s refusal to give up on the man she loves, hope that he will fully recover remains low.
Tracey, who has been an independent taxi driver since her business closed in December 2017, first crossed paths with Paul as a kid, although they didn’t start dating until 2007.
She remembered their reunion and said, “At the time I was working as a bus driver and Paul was a taxi driver.
“One day I parked near a taxi stand and he got on the bus. He said, “Tracey, there is a face I haven’t seen in years.” At first I had no idea who he was, but it turned out we’d gone to the same youth club with kids. “
After they bonded, they worked hard and had busy social lives – enjoying meals, vacations, and long walks with their dog, Spud, and spending time with their children from previous relationships.
Everything changed within a few days after Paul fell ill with a cough, runny nose and pain in September 2017.
At first, since he was seldom sick, they both thought that he must have simply come down.
But a few days later, when a blotchy rash appeared on his face, Tracy sent Paul to see family doctors.
She said, “The doctor said it was probably a nasty chest infection and the redness was due to his cough.
“He was sent home with antibiotics, but when two days went by and they didn’t come in, I sent him back.”
This time Paul was asked to go directly to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital where he was admitted.
There his rash worsened and he became increasingly excited and eventually had a seizure.
Tracey recalled, “The hospital called me and said, ‘How far are you? “They told me Paul was going to get breath failure.”
“When I got there, I could hear them working on it. After an age I was allowed to see him, ”she continued.
“I wasn’t prepared for the shock at all. The same man who had been fine a few days earlier was suddenly hooked up to all of these monitors, his face was swollen and a rash spreading over his body.
“I kept repeating that moment in my head for so long afterwards. I struggled to sleep as I had nightmares and flashbacks. It was absolutely terrible. “
After the doctors put him in an induced coma, they performed a series of tests on Paul, including a lumbar puncture, which involves inserting a needle between two vertebrae to test for spinal fluid. It turned out that he had measles.
According to the NHS, although it is a highly infectious viral disease, it usually improves after seven to ten days.
But, as in Paul’s case, it can lead to serious complications, including seizures, heart and nervous system problems, and even meningitis.
And since he was diagnosed, preliminary statistics from Public Health England have shown an increase in measles incidents in England. 265 cases were registered in 2017, 968 in 2018 and 798 in 2019, compared to just 91 in 2015.
“Paul and I had no idea he wasn’t vaccinated,” said Tracey. “I was excited. Since he was working as a taxi driver when he got sick, he could have contracted the virus from absolutely anywhere. “
After a month in a coma with his devoted wife barely leaving his side, the doctors tried to get Paul around. Only he wouldn’t wake up.
Tracey recalled, “No matter what someone tried, they couldn’t be woken up. A counselor pulled me aside and said that they had sustained a serious brain injury and that it would be best to turn off their life support and let them go peacefully .
“He was in a vegetative state and at that point it didn’t look like he was going to emerge from it.
“It felt like my whole world had collapsed. I couldn’t imagine the measles did this to him. I refused to give up on him, however, and the doctors said they would do one final test for his Check reaction to pain. “
She added, “Fortunately, this showed some brain activity. I knew we had a long way to go, but I held onto that hope. “
In mid-November Paul finally came by – but since he could neither walk nor speak, it was clear that his recovery would be incredibly difficult.
Over the next few weeks his speech improved and he regained some movement in his arms and legs.
“I would sit and talk to him and squeeze his hand,” said Tracey. “At first it was almost impossible to understand him, but he made great strides and could even tell me that he loved me again.”
In January 2018, Paul was transferred to a specialized rehabilitation unit for people with brain injuries in Bristol, Somerset.
There he got stronger and stronger – and even managed to stand with the help of comprehensive physiotherapy and a special walking aid.
But in March everything collapsed again.
“I went in for my usual daily visit and overnight Paul was completely backward,” said Tracey.
“He couldn’t speak or move. To this day, no one has any idea why. He had so many tests but they all came back clear. Doctors suggested it might be a secondary infection, but we’ll never know for sure . “
Next, Paul was moved to the Dean Neurological Center in Gloucester for further rehabilitation before moving to a nursing home in early 2020.
Now he can speak, move his arms and legs, and has retained his memory, but he struggles with coordination and relies on a wheelchair.
He cannot eat solid food and has to be looked after around the clock for everyday tasks.
“He knows who everyone is and can answer with one word,” said Tracey. “Sometimes I see little glimpses of old Paul.
“He had a fantastic sense of humor and he will try to joke me if he can. I see a mischievous glint in his eyes and I know this is my Paul.”
Forced to live away from her husband for three years, Tracey is now struggling to get him home in time for Christmas in hopes that his presence around will stimulate his brain and aid his recovery.
After a long search, she finally found a bungalow suitable for any customization required. However, since it’s unfurnished, she’s hoping a GoFundMe page a friend set up will help raise £ 3,000 for the outfit.
“It was incredibly difficult financially,” she said. “I had to close my business and sell practically everything Paul and I had.
“I kept working when I can, but being there for Paul and handling all the bureaucracy, forms, and meetings associated with organizing his care was a full-time job in itself.”
“I hate to ask for help, so I did everything myself, but my girlfriend set up a crowdfunding page without me knowing about it and the response has been humble,” she added.
“I know a lot of us are having problems right now. I’m incredibly touched that people have chosen to help me.”
Because brain injuries are so complex, medical professionals cannot say exactly how much recovery Paul will make and how long it will take.
At the moment, Tracey, diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of her ordeal, continues to live one day at a time, refusing to give up on her husband.
“I don’t expect him to suddenly get up and do the river dance – that’s a little joke we laugh at – but I can only try,” she said. “Every bit of hope he gives me, I’ll hold on to. He tries to push himself every day and I’ll be with him every step of the way.”
Now Tracy wants other people to realize the devastating effects of measles and make sure they have been vaccinated.
She said, “I want people to check that they have been vaccinated. Since we get bumps as little babies, most of us don’t remember them happening. We just assume we’re protected.
“There are a lot of things in the press right now about people who are against vaccines and everyone has a right to their own opinion, but seeing what some people write is annoying.
“I wouldn’t wish what happened to my worst enemy. Our life was instantly turned upside down and I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”
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