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The experience of Livability Icanho, a patient’s story

I had been told that the symptoms that I was experiencing since my car accident were down to old age. It was clear to me that the injury was more than just my imagination.

The truth of the matter was I couldn’t organise myself, I couldn’t concentrate or make decisions. I have a degree in both maths and physics but could no longer remember what I had learned.

My problem was subtle but to me very obvious and very real, the shear frustration of my symptoms being overlooked was really devastating and created even more problems, including a total lack of self-esteem and ultimately depression.

I arrived at Livability Icanho for my first assessment; it was exhaustive and thorough. The assessment meeting, a line of faces, was scary as I didn’t know if this time things would be different. Would they have noticed? Will they be able to help me? Am I going to be told I’m ‘lucky’ and not bad enough to be treated and nothing will be done for me?

The outcome: good. Their assessment showed I did have a problem and they could help and have helped countless other like me. My relief was unbounded.

Unfortunately, my relief turned to a feeling of being overwhelmed. The issue stemmed from the six-month window of treatment.

The initial realisation that everything had to be crammed into six months with a team I didn’t know made me feel huge pressures. My life and work was put on hold; my employer was informed that I was to take even more time off work.

The treatment, quite rightly, was all encompassing of everything I do. As a very independent person, I found this very difficult to schedule in visits to my home, my place of work and have conversations with my boss and my husband.

My first breakthrough moment

It is incredibly difficult to throw yourself open and reveal all to a complete stranger, however altruistic and sincere the reason. So I would have preferred to allow the first few sessions to build up slowly along with the trust.

As a patient, I was acutely aware of time running out. After waiting for so long for treatment and trying so hard the get the help I needed I was desperate not to waste the six months I had at Livability Icanho.

In my ignorance I declared I didn’t need a speech therapist as part of my programme as I had absolutely no problem in speaking! From my comprehensive assessment the team knew I needed it. She carefully explained what she did and I realised there was a a lot more to it.

It was, in fact, her who gave me my first breakthrough moment and confidence boost. That yes I can still do that skill, I just have to process the resultant differently. She made bits of my brain I thought dead stutter to life again. She also, just in passing gave me a couple of words that I use every hour of the day ‘Little steps’.

The second breakthrough moment was with the physiotherapist. I suffered with a constant background headache that ground away at me like a bad tooth. It would then blew up into full migraines at irritatingly frequent intervals. It was suggested that the physiotherapist should see what she could do.

She used a technique I’d never heard of but gave me pretty instant relief from the migraine I was suffering at the time of application. Over the next number of treatments, there was a complete disappearance of any underlying pain. I cannot describe in words the relief that came from the treatment. I still have the migraines but nowhere near the frequency or the severity as before.

Working with a team, not individuals

Thereafter, once trust had been built, I must say how great it was. The team worked together, not as individuals. It didn’t feel as though it was a simple matter of reading each other’s notes and going through a process.

It felt like there was a real continuity between disciplines, that they fed into each other, like I was involved in something total and in the truest sense holistic. As a scientist, with my outside observers head on, it was fascinating and with my experiential head on, it was calming, trust engendering, and ultimately healing.

From the occupational therapist’s patient build-up of understanding of how my job works to sitting with the psychologist trying to find a way through my muddled mind; I started looking forward to my treatment. Among other things, I’m now evangelically organised and tidy at work and have a system for everything from answering the phone to having a bath.

After my six month programme I had a three month break with a final session to follow. This gave me confidence to fly solo but with the comfort of knowing I had another session if I needed it. I could get used to the new systems in place and the new person I was.

Before my treatment at Livability Icanho I was at the point of leaving work altogether. After treatment I can do my job and it’s up to me to decide whether I want, and I am confident enough, to know I can change my job or my career and be successful in something else, should I chose to do so.

The vital treatment I needed

The wonderful expertise of Livability Icanho has made me self-sufficient again and I can look after my husband, who has Alzheimer’s, without the need for external help.

I believe that what you have at Livability Icanho is unique. A medical team, working across different disciplines, all working together for a common goal.

I consider myself very lucky and privileged that I have had the pleasure of their time and expertise; I am forever in their debt and cannot thank them enough. I have never met such a remarkable group of highly intelligent, extremely professional and very funny people who have helped me journey from aggressive despair to a functioning happy human being and made that journey both a joy and a delight.

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