A TOP parenting blogger has been reunited with the ambulance team who saved his life when he suffered a stroke.
Nigel Higgins from Rhiwbina, Cardiff was watching TV at home one evening when he suddenly lost sensation in one side of his body and began experiencing chest pains.
His wife Emily decided to call an out of hours GP, who advised her to dial 999 immediately.
Nigel was soon joined by Welsh Ambulance Service paramedic Daniel Benyon in a rapid response car, followed by paramedic Roger Jelfs and technician Gareth McMullen in an ambulance.
Nigel said: “I started to feel a bit warm and sweaty and the only way I can describe it is that it was as if someone had just got a net curtain and drawn it over my eye.
“I had a punishing pain in my chest and my blood pressure was really high. Daniel turned up in his car at first and he did ECGs and put a line in.
“He was monitoring me at that point, then the ambulance crew turned up and we were off to hospital.”
Paramedic Daniel, who’s been with the Welsh Ambulance Service for seven-and-a-half-years, said: “I walked in and Nigel was sat by the settee with his wife and daughter. He had left-sided weakness, so I assessed and treated him.
“When I carried out the FAST (Face Arm Speech Test) assessment on him there was definitely evidence of a stroke.”
A stroke happens when the supply of blood to the brain is suddenly interrupted.
The father-of-five was taken to the University Hospital of Wales, where medics carried out a number of further tests, including an angiogram.
There it was established that he had suffered a bleed on the brain and a blood clot, and was given anti-clotting drugs.
Nigel spent a day in hospital after being admitted on April 2nd and fortunately suffered no long lasting physical effects.
He was recently reunited with Daniel, Gareth and Roger to thank them for saving him.
He said: “I dread to think where it would have ended up had they not come. They were supremely calm and kept me calm. They’ve got such a lovely way about them and they took control.
“It’s been energy sapping more than anything else since then, and I’ve been struggling to actually keep my eyes open by around 2pm some days.
“I was probably most affected mentally though. I’ve got five children so I obviously want to be around for them and it gets you quite emotional thinking about that.”
As well as working as a painter and decorator for a living, Nigel also writes and earns money from his popular blog called ‘DIY Daddy’, which offers DIY and parenting tips.
In 2017 he was voted as the second best dad blogger in the UK, and said writing about his experience of having a stroke had helped him come to terms with what happened.
Nigel, who has since given up smoking and plans to take up cycling, has also offered advice to anyone who has similar symptoms as the UK marks National Stroke Awareness Month this month.
He said: “I think checking your blood pressure is so important, but try not to obsess over it, and just look after yourself.
“If you are getting any sort of warnings of a stroke then make sure you dial 999 straight away.”
Roger, who’s based at Blackweir Ambulance Station, said: “I remembered Nigel straight away because of the blogging, which we talked about quite a bit while we were in the ambulance. It was really nice to see that he’s getting on so well.”
Nigel’s call was assessed and categorised in the Welsh Ambulance Service’s amber category.
Under the Trust’s new clinical response model, calls in this category no longer attract a time-based target, but patients experiencing symptoms associated with a stroke receive the fastest and most appropriate blue light response.
The service is also measured on whether it provides the right care bundle for stroke patients, including carrying out the FAST assessment and recording blood glucose and blood pressure readings, as part of the Emergency Ambulance Service Committee’s Ambulance Quality Indicators.
Between January and March 2018, 96 per cent of the 898 suspected stroke patients treated in Wales received the appropriate care package.
Richard Lee, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Director of Operations, said: “It’s really great to hear that Nigel is getting on so well, and we would like to thank him for his kind words about the treatment provided by our team.
“We would encourage everyone to familiarise themselves with how to recognise the symptoms of a stroke during National Stroke Awareness Month.
“If someone’s face has fallen on one side, if they cannot raise their arms and keep them there, and if their speech is slurred, then you should call 999 immediately.
“It’s thanks to everyone involved in Nigel’s care that his symptoms were recognised and treated in good time, and that this story had the positive outcome that it did.”
You can read Nigel’s account of meeting with the team who saved his life here.