By Frumpy Oldman
I doubt that 19 Aug 2010 will feature heavily in the recollections of any Celtic fan. I’ve just gone to Wikipedia to find out what happened that night. But I’ll start that morning as I had a day off my work as a senior lecturer in a university in the north of England and I’d planned a walk from the market town of Otley, West Yorkshire on a new path called the Six Dales Trail. I set off from Otley at about 10 am and enjoyed a pleasant walk towards Fewston reservoir for about 5 miles. From there, I crossed a road and was able to hail a bus on the A59 to take me to Harrogate. I had time to get coffee and biscuits in Harrogate before getting a bus to Otley. I then was able to get a bus home to the village where I live at about 2.30 pm. I was around 5 minutes from home when a very odd sensation took hold. If you imagine you are Pinocchio with your arms and legs on strings, imagine someone has cut all 4 strings at once. I could not raise my left arm to grasp a handlebar on the bus for more than a second or two. When the bus arrived at our village, I had then to cross a railway bridge to get home. Halfway across it, I remember thinking ‘would anyone care if I had a nap here?’, though I managed to cross it and got home. I didn’t even have the strength to get my door keys out or lift my arm to ring the bell but just called through the letterbox and, once indoors, flopped into a living room chair. I told my wife ‘ I don’t feel great’ and went upstairs for a nap. About an hour or two later, I was going for a wee but kept bumping into door frames so my wife was concerned enough to ring NHS direct.
(Note put in here at the suggestion of Mrs. Frumpy Oldman. You will all have seen those FAST adverts on telly warning what to look for if someone is having a stroke. On that day, I was exhibiting none of those symptoms. I’m not saying the advert is nonsense, I’m sure those symptoms are typical of more than 90% of the strokes which happen every day in Britain and Ireland.)
They recommended taking me to casualty so around 6.30 my wife took me to casualty at Bradford Royal Infirmary. Apparently, I walked in there at around 7pm and was seen by a triage nurse about 10 minutes later. I had walked to sit in a seat front of her but when the interview finished I couldn’t walk from the seat. On the plus side, I was then admitted quickly and by around 745 pm, when the Celtic game that day was kicking off, I was being wheeled out following an MRI scan when I had asked the porter ‘Do I still have a brain?’ he reassured me ‘Course you do, it just looks like a pile of sawdust now’. That evening, I was connected to a fluid drip because no one could be sure I could swallow food and drink safely. That was good and bad, because although I was very tired that night, sleep was tricky as the drip machine wanted to bleep loudly every 10 minutes.
Ok, spoiler here, at the age of 40 years and 5 months, I had suffered a stroke.
I was to spend about 28 days in hospital, but most of it bearable except for 26 Aug when Celtic were away to Utrecht (remind yourself on the Celtic wiki if you dare) and then around 2 Sep when my dinner was a tuna pasta salad. It was nice enough, but eating that with a fork in my right hand made me so tired I needed to sleep quickly. I think I was discharged on 17 September and that was fine, but for a month even short walks of about 100 yds with a stick left me cream crackered. Around the middle of October, I found I could walk around the house without a stick and so that night I had a skinful of beer to celebrate. I was lucky in that my GP had signed me off sick until January 2011 and I’d had help from a Leeds stroke team to apply for a taxi to and from work for 3 days a week after then for 6 months. (I doubt that scheme still exists now). At that point, I was then able to get to get to work by train (then taxi if required).
Let me then take you forward to April 4th, 2016. I was lucky to be able to visit Paradise with two former students of mine from Syria, Abdullah and Mohammad. Before the game, I confused a well known Celtic podcaster by asking if the GB do requests ( I wanted them to raise a refugees welcome banner). It was the fag end of the Ronny era and although Celtic went 1-0 down early to Hearts, the fans roused the team to a 3-1 victory. My only regret that day was showing the chaps the Celtic superstore because they dived in there seeking to buy me various Celtic merchandise. The only gift I can give them of any value is the gift of seeing Celtic in paradise.
So, therefore, this article is dedicated to you, Abdullah and Mohammad as you’ve come so far.
The author can be found on twitter – @SHAKENSTICK