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Sunday, 4 May 2014

Home! But Not Where The Heart Is.



Following on from ‘Over The Threshold’ (posted October 2013) the story continues.
For the few days I was at home, before having to return to hospital, everything seemed so ‘alien’. I would look in the mirror each day, barely able to recognise myself, and just cry. The house haunted me, I couldn’t relate to it as home.

The strain was having an impact on Laura as she would enter into conversation with me, talking about all manner of events, but I couldn’t remember any of them. When I tried to answer, I’d get halfway through what I was speaking about and stop.

My own mind was now my prison. I couldn’t remember foods I liked, drinks I liked, the football team I supported, friends, family, how to drive, bank details, how to do my job and in fact, I couldn’t even remember where I worked.

The list of things I could not remember was the only thing I could remember, well apart from the hospital and the staff that had tended to me. Hospital was my home! Despite having my son and wife with me, the three days I was allowed home were the hardest. 

I found every passing minute unbearable, the tears, the thoughts I was thinking, the anger, the rage, the uncertainty of everything just hit me. I’m not in control, I can’t do anything.
Simple tasks like boiling a kettle, setting the washing machine, switching the television on and even finding my clothes, were challenging. It was all so embarrassing.

There I was, a 28-year-old man having to rely on a woman I didn’t remember, to help me to be a man again. It was traumatising, it was humiliating and degrading. I thought I’d experienced utter despair when in the hospital, but my despair had reached new levels.

I remember waking up on the Saturday morning at 3am, I sat in the lounge and just kept repeating to myself over-and-over, how can I be lost in my own home?
Returning to bed an hour later, I stood in the bedroom where all this has happened, staring at ‘the woman’ lying in the bed and scanning the room looking for something, anything, that could get me out of this nightmare.

I found no respite from the trauma, I found no peace in my mind, I saw no light at the end of a tunnel. Much like the room I was standing in at 4am, I found myself shrouded in darkness. I saw no hope, having thought coming ‘home’ would give me renewed hope. But, it wasn’t to be. I was in this house in body, but my heart, mind and spirit had left this place.

What was left was a void, a chasm that could not be filled. The world talks a lot about identity, but at this moment in time I did not have one. Every time I looked in the mirror, what I saw staring back was emptiness, a blank expression. I might be home, but it’s not where my heart is!!!

I’d like to go back to the hospital now, please… 

Thursday, 9 January 2014

In Her Own Words - Part One


This latest blog chapter has been written by my amazing wife, Laura, without whom I don't think I would have ever got through this ordeal. Her fast actions on the day this took place may well have saved my life. I honour her, I love her and I thank her for her bravery. In her own words, Laura recalls the day I collapsed and lost my memory. It's gripping, yet heart warming.

I was sitting on the sofa having just finished dinner, Dan was upstairs settling Jake. I heard his footsteps across the landing heading back to our bedroom then there was a loud bang! 

Not sure what it was, I rushed up the stairs to see what had happened, when I turned into our bedroom there was Dan, face down on the floor at the end of our bed! 

Now as some of you know I am not always the best in an emergency, with my initial response being a little random (like the time our car span in the ice while Dan was driving, I turned the music off so he could concentrate. Or the time I walked in our front door to find Dan passed out on the floor and I had to take my coat off before checking on him. He was fine by the way, that's a whole other story). 

However, this time I snapped in to action, checking he was breathing, shaking him to try and bring him round while calling his name. He didn’t respond, but thankfully was still breathing, I phoned for an ambulance. 

The operator I got through to was absolutely amazing and I wish I could thank her personally. She kept me calm and stayed on the phone until the ambulance arrived. She could hear the panic in my voice and somehow managed to talk me through all the checks, making sure he was still breathing. She asked if I could turn him over on to his side. Unfortunately I was unable to move him, as there was no room to roll Dan over and I was not strong enough.

Whilst waiting for the ambulance Jake woke up again and was crying. I wasn't sure if I should leave Dan alone. The lady on the phone assured me that Dan would be fine and I should go and get my son. Looking back now I am sure Jake could sense something was wrong with his Dad. 

So, I stood in our bedroom holding Jake waiting for the ambulance to arrive. Then Dan came round and started asking where he was, he seemed so confused. He didn’t move, he simply lay on the floor while I tried to explain what was going on. I reassured him that the ambulance was on its way. I then saw flashing lights out of the bedroom window of the rapid response vehicle. 

I know Dan has covered this part already so will skip ahead. 

The ambulance pulled off and disappeared up the road. I closed the front door and stood there for a couple of seconds thinking, what do I do? I settled Jake back to sleep in his room. Returning back downstairs my mind was racing, WOW has this really just happened?  Is Dan really in hospital again? Why did he collapse? I needed to get to the hospital so I rang some friends to see if they could come and babysit while I went to the hospital. While explaining to them what had happened I broke down in tears. They said they would come straight away to look after Jake. 

I decided to ring Dan’s dad so he could get to the hospital and be with him as I knew it would take me longer to get there. His dad was actually on duty in the neighbouring town, he was a paramedic, he assured me he would leave work straight away and get there to be with Dan. Andy and Becca Herbert (the friends mentioned above) arrived pretty quickly, I briefly and calmly explained what had happened.  They are shocked by my state as I was a picture of calm, which they weren’t expecting after my break down on the phone. 
This becomes my state for the next few weeks as I stay strong for Dan and Jake. 

We decide that Andy will babysit Jake, while Becca took me to the hospital. Upon arrival at the hospital I walk straight up to the desk where I ask the desk clerk, where can I find Daniel Waldron? 

I am given access to the A & E ward and I’m led into a little cubicle. There I find Dan lying on a bed, and his dad standing next to him. I get a look from Dan’s dad that says ‘something's not right here.’ 

I can tell straight away that Dan doesn't recognise me, I feel it in my stomach, a horrible sick feeling, but I just look at him and smile, he is still the man I love even if he doesn't know it. 

I stay for about an hour while the doctors discuss what they want to do. They inform us they will be keeping Dan in overnight so I decide to go home as there was nothing more I could do and I didn’t want to keep Andy and Becca out any longer. 

It was a sleepless night, I never sleep well when in the bed on my own at the best of times, but I also felt this heavy weight of responsibility to hold my little family together. 

Over the next few days I juggled looking after Jake and visiting Dan in the hospital. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Over the threshold


Through various streets, passing places I should have known, but didn't, I sat silently in the car. 

Just moments before we'd started our journey I had come face-to-face with my son, Jake, for the first time in 7 days. He'd grown so much, his little face shone upon seeing me. That image alone caused me to sob uncontrollably.

Looking at my boy he knew that 'daddy' wasn't well and he did the only thing he knew how, he smiled and hugged me.

Words cannot define that moment, but if I'd died during that embrace my life would have been worthwhile for this moment alone.

We turned into a street, this was to be our journey's end, not that I knew it at the time. Laura stepped out the car, I hesitated, glaring out the window desperately trying to identify my 'home', something that I could assign recognition to. 

It didn't come, instead I stepped out of the car and stood in the street looking lost and helpless, a stranger in a place I should have known.

Laura removed Jake from the car and headed towards number 61 Gordon Street. The door to the house was blood red, I stared at it trying to force my mind to remember, but only succeeded in hurting my eyes.

Holding Jake, Laura turned the key in the lock. The door swung open straight into the front room. Well it looked like a dining room.

Laura boldly stepped inside, me, I entered tentatively, nervously as if the house wasn't my own. I crossed over the threshold and the instant that I did so, a voice spoke to me in my head. "You're a guest here only."

The room was relatively small, but was nicely decorated with a feature fire place and a wall lined with striped wallpaper. The other walls were neutrally painted and clean.

On the walls were pictures of Jake, Laura and a face I recognised, mine. A huge family photo hung on the wall to the right of me. I was in the picture.

There's no denying it now I thought, this is my wife, my son, my home.

Walking around the rest of the house I recognised nothing, but I knew that this house was where all this had transpired. I hated it, I wanted to run out and leave.

How could I be a husband to a wife I didn't know, a father to a growing boy, a man of a house I despised? 

I could think of nothing more than fear. Every move I made in the house for the rest of the day was done with caution. 

The truth is, I felt like a little fish in an ocean. I was now out of my depth, this is my reality, I am a husband, a father and head of a household. I've got to make this work. I will have to re-build my life from here.

Was I up to the challenge? Only time would tell.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Home on the Horizon

61 Gordon Street, where it all began...
I'd lost track of the days, the only thing that filled my head was the words of the hospital Chaplain.

She had been gone a couple of hours now and during that time a number of patients had gone home. However, the empty bays were soon occupied again with new patients.

Yet, there was something new about the occupants. I noticed they were all younger men, much younger than the previous demographic that had surrounded me.
I remember thinking that it was strange. But, why? Young people get ill too, I'm an example of just that.

I struck up conversations with many of the younger men. Many of them opened up about their circumstances. They told me of their addictions to drink, drugs and gambling.

Another young man explained how he was recovering from being stabbed by a gang rival just 9 days ago.

Jayden, I remember most distinctly. He told me how he'd been involved in a car accident, which resulted in him seriously injuring a pedestrian.

He explained how he'd been speeding, 'egged' on by his mates. He remembered the accident vividly and was filled with remorse.

I don't know what prompted me, but I prayed for him and the other young men around me. The words of the Chaplain had touched my heart.

I had no concept of God, nor did I believe in him, so I didn't know if my prayers had any impact. What I do know is that me and those men around me all found one thing in common out of it all 'Hope'.

Later that afternoon my 'wife' came to visit. During our time together the consultant overseeing my healthcare came to see me. He delivered the news that tomorrow [Friday] I could go home for weekend leave.

I learned that the wards were not really manned over the weekend and none of the consultants worked.

Laura looked at me and smiled reassuringly, knowing that this was going to be especially hard for both of us.

For me personally my initial reaction was of terror, although I did not convey that on the outside.

I'd get to see my son for the first time in days, but I was also aware I'd be returning to the scene of where it all happened, but I wouldn't recognise it.

Would it really be home anymore? I'd grown so familiar with the hospital the very idea that I lived in a house escaped me.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

For the critics


In the writing of this blog a number of people have questioned whether any of it is real. A valid question and I had a choice to make.

I could either completely lose it and say what a stupid question, but I instead have chosen to adopt this response. It was real to me, it was real for my family and it was real for my friends, enough said.

Decide for yourself, I am not going to start justifying the story.The pain of it is too much to bear and to have my integrity questioned hurts. Yes I'm not perfect, but who is? 

The spiritual encounters well that's open to interpretation as I appreciate that not everyone has seen the supernatural. You don't have to take my word for it. However, I can only describe what I saw and the fact that I saw it in such detail makes it real to me.

You can take it or leave it, believe it or not, my only reason for writing this is to inspire and encourage, not to create debate. 

What happened to me happened, it happened publicly. I fell from a great height, through natural eyes I lost a lot. Leader of the worship team, close relationship with the pastor, everyone WOWING your worship. A life of 'success', from a natural perspective, gone.

I've had to sever ties with some 'friends' who were glad this happened to me. When I asked them why? Their response was: 'We envied you, it has knocked you off your perch'. 

I didn't realise I was on a perch, but hey, this is people, this is life and I'm learning to live with the notion that it probably says more about them than me.

Do I still make mistakes after this experience? Yes. Does it hurt to have something taken away that I was building when I didn't expect it? Yes.

However, and here is where I want the doubters to take stock, is it ABOUT ME? No!
The experience happened to me, but it's not about me, it's about the glory of a God I believe in and trust completely. 

It saddens me that people have questioned my experience. There's nothing more real than losing everything you've known in your own head, spending endless nights in hospital wondering what's going to happen next, will I live or die? Will I ever know my family and friends again?

The rest is just stuff. My life is not defined by me being a worship leader, being on a core team, being behind a microphone, it's defined by who I am in God and who I am as a son.

I'm also not defined by this blog and responses to this blog. However, for the time being I've taken the decision to temporarily stop writing the blog in order to gather some perspective and re-focus the blog on God and not in answering 'critics' who would begrudge a person writing about a terrible experience in order to inspire.

I do not wish to cause offence and raise feelings of envy.

Until further notice...

For those who have read the blog and offered your unwavering support, thank you. 
The blog will return in due course.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Spirit Break Out


Hours after the visit of 'Claire', my wife turned up. During visiting hours, I underwent another test, this time with quite a suave sounding doctor. Dr Matthews was here to measure my 'brain activity'. Interesting I thought to myself.

He fitted some wacky contraption to my head and proceeded to tell me that this would measure my brain waves and look for signs of any abnormal activity.

Brilliant I thought, maybe I would get some answers to what had happened to me. It was playing on my mind that I'd had all these tests and yet, not one had uncovered any results as to why I had collapsed and lost my memory.

Whilst the test was going on I tried to recall some memories. It was like the game Jenga, I would start building the tower, but before long I could visualise the blocks being pulled out and the tower would topple.

I could remember very little and whilst playing this game Dr Matthews would be asking me a series of questions. I couldn't answer any of them. "Who's the Prime Minister?", "What's the Queen's name?"

On it went and I couldn't answer anything. My thoughts returned to Claire. Was that God? I asked myself.

Having met Tony, having been told about my 'past' life, in that moment a warm breeze passed over me. I felt it, like an invisible breath. Someone was here that I couldn't see, yet the very presence was captivating, tangible and very heavy in the room.

I raised a smile, I closed my eyes and saw beyond the realm of this world, above the clouds, above the earth and beyond the universe.

I remember being in a chamber, I could see two thrones. One was exceptionally large, whilst the one to the right (my left as I looked) was drenched in blood, but written in the blood was the word 'Love'.

This was very real, it was happening here and now. As I scanned the throne room, I came across the Gold Figure from a few days earlier. He was much clearer to me now.

He smiled and held his arms wide. He was crying and surrounded by 1000s of other figures I couldn't make out. The figures were singing, the whole place was filled with joy.

I ran and ran and ran towards him and leapt into his arms. He held me and kissed my head. He said nothing, he didn't need to. I knew who he was, he just held me. It's all I needed. I could smell him, touch him and hear his heartbeat as I buried my head into his chest.

I opened my eyes. Dr Matthews and my wife stared back at me. "Nice dream?" asked the doctor. "It was no dream", I said. "It was an amazing experience, a reminder of something I need to figure out."

The doctor said he would have the results back from the test within 24 hours. I didn't care to be honest, I just smiled. He left. It was just me and Laura, we talked. Well, she talked and tried to help me with my memories.

However, I was still in awe of what had just happened. It was about to change the whole dynamic of my life, but I didn't know it at the time.

The picture was perfect, a son with the perfect Father. I understood the battle between good and evil now. There was a real fight for my life, both naturally and supernaturally. But, the word LOVE written in the blood on that throne engraved itself on my heart. I believed in something, I believed in a love stronger than my circumstances.

I looked at Laura. I said "I'm sorry I don't remember you, but I believe in your love." I took her by the hand and we hugged, she cried, I cried, but for the first time I had come across God.
I gripped him. We're going to get through this I thought. I trust you, I know it's you and only you who can bring me, my family and my church family through this.

Laura left. Visiting hours were over. Shortly afterwards the hospital chaplain came onto the ward. She brought me a Bible. I told her about my situation, she was astounded and said she recognised me from a healing conference I'd led worship at when a man by the name of Dave Carr had ministered.

She asked if she could pray for me. I was a little apprehensive, but I agreed. She prayed for a restoration of my memory and higher heights with God beyond this trial. It was all very inspiring and I began to realise that none of these experiences could be deemed 'coincidence', this was God turning a tragedy into a testimony.

I didn't realise it at the time, but I know now that the Spirit of God was breaking out over my life.

The best was yet to come, the power of God consumed me. I felt him. I knew that all this was not made up. I was convinced. I could smile, something I had not done in many days.

Invigorated, inspired and encouraged. My conversation with the chaplain revealed more about my relationship with God. She remembered that my worship was passionate, different, taking the church somewhere new. "It was groundbreaking," she said. "Your voice was incredible and you carried such authority and displayed such an intimate relationship with God that those that you were leading in worship were healed by your worship.

I was embarrassed now. I couldn't imagine it, that I had impacted so many lives. I truly believed now that God was in this somewhere.

Request...

For those of you that remember events where I've led worship or any impact that I've had on your life, please get in touch by commenting on this blog or via Facebook. You may be helping me to fill in the blanks. Much love and may the love of God grip you all in ways you never thought possible!!!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Night and Day




The days in hospital were far easier than the nights. This night, following the meeting with family and friends, was the most despairing of all.
I didn't sleep and dream of a life before all this that would have been too good to be true.

Instead I sat bolt upright and alert. 
It must have been about midnight by now. I had my bay light on and the rest of the ward was silent and dimly lit.
A few of the patients had gone and a few new ones turned up. In fact, one gentleman, Bryan, turned up whilst I was awake. He was wheeled into the bay looking seriously ill. 
I stared incessantly, I don't know why. It's almost as if I was drawn to him. I spoke to him once the porters had gone and asked him what had happened.
"Problem with my heart," he said. "I collapsed, next thing I know I'm here."

"Do you remember anything?" I asked.
"Not a thing," he said. 
Suddenly I realised why my attention was drawn to him. We shared something in common.

I spent much of the evening pacing up and down the ward, possessed by a need to remain awake. I was so tired, but scared to sleep.

I got to know the night nurses quite well. Calvin and Simon were always up for a laugh and in a sense they became my family. They were the first people I'd really connected with, other than Bryan. 
We enjoyed some friendly banter, they playfully mocked me for my inability to remember anything and equally I mocked their manliness for being male 'nurses'. It was all in good humour.

Having completed our exchanges and having paced up and down, for what seemed like hours, I lay on my bed.
I glanced over to the clock, 3am; I believe I was now suffering from insomnia. 
However, I unwittingly fell asleep, what followed still haunts me now.

Behind my closed eyes I saw fire. Bodies burning, people screaming, chased by shadows. Beyond this scene a city lay in ruin. I recognised the surroundings, but didn't know why.
Burning bodies stood and advanced towards me, arms outstretched, heavily disfigured and scarred, but no longer screaming, it's as though they had been possessed. 
The body was dead, but the soul was being tortured. Every ounce of humanity had left them. It was in their eyes, as black as night, secreting 'death'.
An army of these 'lifeless' beings amassed upon me. I turned to run. It's then that I realised that I was chained to a stake.

With nowhere to go, I didn't resist, what was about to happen was inevitable. As they approached I heard the chant "join us". 
With that I woke up, another terrible nightmare, an invasion I couldn't prevent. My night clothes were sopping with sweat. 

I couldn't even begin to understand what was happening to me. 
I turned on my side towards Bryan's bay. His curtain was drawn. I just needed someone to talk to about these dreams, at that moment I didn't care who it was, after all everyone was a stranger to me.

However, I was greeted by silence and loneliness. My body was in pain, the morphine was wearing off again. 
I arose from my bed again. 
This is where it gets personal. I haven't ever told anyone this, not even Laura.

I knew what I intended to do as soon as I got up from the bed. I stripped the bed of its top sheet and I tossed one end over my bay curtain rail and tied a knot. I pulled the curtain half way round, to keep me out of sight of the nurses’ station.

I then simply tied a noose, pulled it over my head and around my neck and I pulled the knot, tight. I write this like it was that easy, the truth is it was. I just did not care. 
As the height was not sufficient enough for me to hang myself, I checked that the rail could take my weight by pulling on it, hard.

I then simply turned around and as if about to commit to a bungee jump, I leant forward. I closed my eyes, the noose tightened around my neck.

I stopped myself from breathing, relaxed and the strain around my throat increased. I had reached the point of passing out, then I remember falling. 
That's it.

I awoke, night had turned to day and a nurse was sat at my bed side. I looked up at her, tears in my eyes, she stared back in sorrow. "I didn't die did I?" I said to the nurse. "No", she said. "The sheet tore as a result of the strain, we found you lying on the floor at 6am."

"Why did you do it?" She asked. "I can't cope with this, " I said. 
For the first time I really opened up about the dreams, nightmares and visions.

I explained to the nurse that the hardest thing about it all is that I feel like all the things I am seeing, I'm making up. I just want to put myself out of this misery I told her.

No-one will believe me I exclaimed. How do I explain any of it? Who in their right mind would understand this, even in a bid to reassure me kind of way?

Then the nurse said something to me that astounded me. "I believe you", she said. 
Her tone was genuine and not patronising.

"Why?" I asked. She said "I witness mental illness on a daily basis. Usually any talk of visions is usually ramblings and incoherency." 

"You Daniel, do not appear to be rambling, what you're seeing you've explained rationally and coherently."

"However, whatever demons you're facing, putting yourself out of misery is not the answer. I know you don't remember your friends and family at the moment, but imagine the misery and devastation you would leave behind. I see in you something so much stronger that can overcome this. Don't give up on what you have, work with what you've got. You can beat this." 
Never had I felt such mixed emotions, part of me wanted to leap for joy, the other wanted to cry in shame for what I'd tried to do.

That nurse, Claire, helped me to turn a corner, she gave me hope. I will never forget what she did that day.

Claire left. I sat and thought about what she'd said. She was right. About an hour later I wanted to talk to her again. 
I called the duty nurse over and asked to speak to nurse Claire Handley.

She looked at me confused. "Never had a Claire working on this ward."

The look of panic must have been evident on my face. "I'm sure you're mistaken. I was talking to her about an hour ago." 
The duty nurse, Stephanie, checked with her colleagues. 
She came back. "No Daniel. No one by that name works here."

"You're winding me up aren't you?" I laughed nervously.

I looked deep into Stephanie's eyes looking for that tell-tale sign that would give away her joke.

It didn't come. "Are you OK Daniel?" Stephanie asked.

"No I'm bloody not!" I said.

One more sign of hope had been shredded. Whilst I was thankful for the conversation with Claire, my ramblings to Stephanie were now proving to be of an insane nature. 
Having experienced hope just one hour ago I was now reduced to questioning my own sanity. Am I making this up? 

I remember looking up at Stephanie and I quote. 'Nurse there is some freaky shit going on here, what the hell is wrong with me?' 
After thoughts...
Needless to say I never 'saw' Nurse Claire again. To this day I still can't explain the events and the mysterious appearance, and disappearance, of Claire. I could only liken the experience to a similar sort of scenario featured in a book called 'The Shack'.
If you've not read it, I urge you to buy it or borrow it. It makes for much better reading than my blog.