It’s a sunny day in Bridgwater, Somerset. We arrive at the home of Tracey and Garry Deimert, where they’ve lived together for 14-years.
Brunelcare’s Somerset Community Care team have been providing home care support to Tracey for the past 18 months, visiting her Monday to Friday.
Almost 10 years ago to the day, Tracey, then 37, was having a normal day. Tracey had finished work at the local opticians, picked up her two young sons from school and had stopped at her mother’s house for a cup of tea. Whilst there, her heart suddenly stopped and Tracey collapsed on the kitchen floor.
Tracey was without a pulse for an hour causing a hypoxic brain injury, an injury that occurs when there is a disruption in the supply of oxygen to the brain. With no previous medical conditions, heart problems or family illness, she was rushed to hospital where Tracey stayed in the ICU for four-weeks. At this time doctors were unsure whether Tracey would regain consciousness but 6 weeks later she miraculously woke up - though with no memory of who she was, or who here family were.
Tracey stayed in the hospital for a total of 10-months before she was allowed to go home, during that time she had to learn to speak, eat, talk and walk all over again. She had lost all memory of her previous life.
Over the past decade Tracey has made a steady recovery - relearning to carry out everyday tasks and making new memories with her family. We catch up with Tracey and Garry, 10 years on from Tracey’s health scare, to find out more about their story.
Tracey begins by telling us a little about herself and what she enjoys doing.
“I used to be an Optician, a dispensing Optician but of course I don’t do that anymore. I volunteer now, supporting Active Living for the over 50’s at Victoria Park. It’s one day a week but it’s something I enjoy. We go on day trips and I help out, it’s great.
And concerts, I love concerts! We’ve been to see Bon Jovi twice and I love The Who. That’s all that seems to be left of my memory, words to songs and the ability to still dance. I love music, singing, and dancing, it just makes me happy.”
Tracey and Garry have two children together, Cameron, 20, and Bradley, 14. Garry also has two children from his previous marriage, Hannah, 28 and Jimmie, 26. They proudly show us their family pictures of the six of them together and talk about what their children are up to now. From there Garry shows us their wedding pictures, a day that Tracey can no longer remember but recalls how pretty she looked on the day.
Tracey: “He’s the love of my life, I met him in school. We were childhood sweethearts.”
Garry: “Tracey asked me out when she was 12. We went out for about two years then we drifted apart and married other people, years later both relationships ended. I happened to move into a little house backing onto her house and that’s how we got back in touch.”
At this point the conversation turns to the day Tracey became unwell. Garry recalls:
“Tracey was in intensive care for four weeks, it was six weeks before she woke up. When she did it was like a complete reset, she didn’t remember anything - who I was, her birthday or why she was in the hospital.”
Despite making great progress from a near fatal experience, Tracey’s motor skills are still affected, her ability to remember recent events are a challenge and Tracey sometimes struggles to carry out everyday tasks such as making food, getting a drink or going for a walk.
We ask about the impact that has had on them
Tracey: “I have trouble remembering who I saw yesterday. It's strange, some things really stick and others are harder. If I was watching a TV series I would remember what happened in the episode before but then with other things I really struggle.”
“I tried to be really good one day and went for a walk on my own. I thought ‘I can do this!’ then I got halfway around and got lost. Thankfully one of Bradley’s friends saw me and brought me home.”
Garry: “Everyone knows Tracey which helps. It’s great being part of a community, people are really supportive.”
We ask Tracey to describe a typical day:
“I have five different carers from Brunelcare, but we don’t call them carers, we call them friends. A carer comes each weekday from 8 until 5. We watch movies, we sing and dance. They help me tidy up, they help me do the washing, hoovering and then we go out in the car. They are brilliant. Sometimes you just click with certain people and I just have with them, it’s nice to have the right people.”
“Tracey’s trying to do more around the house with some help. The carers have helped a lot. Tracey being happy with her carers is probably the most important thing to us all really, it means that Tracey can relax and not have to worry about who's coming. That has a positive impact on the rest of the family as we are all more relaxed and able to keep going. It really is as important as that."
During the time we have spent with Tracey and Garry, it’s clear to see that they are very close. We ask them about their outlook despite the challenges they’ve faced.
Garry: “People say how do you do it? Well, we just do. This is our normal, this is how it is for us.”
Tracey: “I say, make the most of what you have. Never give up, never say never.
Sometimes there’s tears but then everyone has that, don’t they?”
As the conversation draws to a close, Tracey says: “Right we’ve got to do a song, what shall we do? We’ll have a little sing song before you leave!”
Tracey leads, singing ‘Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina’, changing the lyrics to include her name - Tracey Diemert. It’s a lighthearted way to end a lovely catch up.
Tracey’s condition hasn’t been scientifically diagnosed by doctors and professionals are unsure if her memory will ever return. For now however, she lives a happy, fulfilling life with the support of her loving family - and a little help from Brunelcare.
To learn more about our home care service, click here.
Our social care superhero, Tracy Gardner, went above and beyond to help her client stand taller than ever when he was discharged from hospital.
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We will be hosting a call for the relatives and loved ones of our care home residents on Thursday 22 October at 7pm.
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