Personal Stories: Ken Sexton
My name is Ken Sexton, I'm 57,married to Angela for 35 years and have
2 beautiful daughters aged 30 & 27. I live in Radcliff near Manchester
in England. I am a keen squash player and a qualified gymnastics coach.
On 6 February 2005 I was walking my dog in the fields behind my home
when I started to get a tingling in my legs and an ache in my chest. The
sensation in my legs became worse and they would no longer support me.
Fortunately I had met a couple of other dog walker friends and they came
to my aid. Peter immediately rang my wife on his mobile and then the
emergency services. Angela rang other friends and suddenly there were
numbers of people looking after me. The paramedics arrived within about
10 minutes closely followed by an ambulance. They quickly managed to
find a way of getting me from the fields to the ambulance with the help
of a lot of friends. This was about 2.00pm on Sunday 6 February 2005.
My next memory was of somebody asking me to squeeze his hand. I now
know that it was Eddie McLaughlin the consultant who performed the
operation which saved my life.
The date was now Thursday 10 February 2005 and I had lost 4 days!
During those 4 days I had an 8 hour operation to repair an ascending
aortic dissection. The volume of leakage meant they had to pack my chest
which could not be closed for a further 24 hours. I have absolutely no
memory of any of these events although all my family and friends cannot
speak highly enough of Mr. McLaughlin and his team, especially the
intensive care team.
I have since had a lot of the detail filled in, the lows of being
given less than a 50% chance of survival to the highs of recognizing my
wonderful wife and daughters for the first time and not understanding
why they were so concerned about my condition.
I had no understanding of the seriousness of the situation nor the
potential effect on the rest of my life. I thought I would be playing
squash again in 2 or 3 months and back coaching at the same time. I now
know of course that it may take just a little longer!
There are some flashbacks coming back to me, especially the
nightmares and feelings of persecution due to the drugs, however the
support of my family and very good friends are allowing me to view it
all in a very positive light. I don't know what the future holds but I
do know that I have the best family and friends in the world!
I think my experience can be summed up as being very fortunate that I
had friends who took control, a wonderful succession of doctors at both
Bolton and Manchester who diagnosed the condition so quickly and an
intensive care team who took as much care of my family as they did of
me. Many people criticize the Health Service in the UK, but when called
into action I received the best attention possible from the best people.
I am now 1 month into my rehab and am taking short walks and
progressing well. My daughter gets married on 8 July and I am well on
track to ensure I walk her down the aisle!