Woman tells how family's dream holiday turned into a nightmare when her husband had a simple fall in the bathroom
One woman has told how a dream holiday to Tunisia turned into a nightmare when her husband had an apparently minor fall in a bathroom.
Nicola Leaver and her husband Anthony flew out for a week-long holiday in August 2009.
On the second day, Anthony slipped in a bathroom and ended up with a fractured skull, temporary paralysis on one side, and he slipped into a coma.
However, Nicola told 2fm’s Ryan Tubridy how she saved Anthony’s life by seeking medical attention for him – all because she had learned from reading about Liam Neeson’s wife Natash’s tragic death that same year.
Recalling the day of the fall, Nicola said: “My daughter found him sitting on a wall with his head in his hands, covered in blood.”
“He said: “I think I fell”. With that, I noticed blood was coming out of his nose, his ear. I checked his head – he had a tiny little bump, no bigger than a €2 coin, on the back of his head.”
“He was moaning and groaning... but he wasn’t really talking.”
“About another 40 minutes, a doctor arrived. He was drifting in and out of consciousness at this stage so he was getting worse.”
The family travelled to the local hospital on Nicola’s assistance, and doctors performed a CT scan.
“He had a bleed on the brain. In between the skull and the brain... it was deadly if they didn’t evacuate the bleed.”
“The surgeon said ‘[his team] had to remove almost a litre of blood from his head. He’s in a coma. He had a fractured skull and he’s paralysed down one side’.”
“They wouldn’t let me in to see him,” she said, adding that the hospital in Tunisia only allow visiting two hours per day.
Anthony was in a coma for a total of about six hours.
“We went in and he had woken up about 15 minutes beforehand. His face was like a balloon. He had black eyes, he had a tube coming from his skull, and he didn’t look great,” Nicola said.
“Gradually the feeling came back on his left side and they moved him into a private room.”
The family were eventually allowed to fly home, but more bad news followed.
“When we got home it turned out he had a second bleed and our GP sent us up to Tallaght. We were there for a good few hours and they did a scan... they said ‘you’re going nowhere... You’ve another bleed.’”
“He spent 33 days in Beaumont and had two further operations in Beaumont, and a third one where they put in a metal plate in his skull,” Nicola said.
“Initially they had to remove part of his skull. It was too badly infected.”
The mum-of-one paid tribute to Natasha Richardson, saying that it was her case that saved her husband’s life.
“It’s because of her that I thought ‘no, I’m not going up to the hotel room [to rest]’.”
The surgeon in Tunisia told the family that if they had waited one more hour to seek medical attention, Anthony’s injuries would have been fatal.
Nicola advised all holidaymakers this summer to book travel insurance. She attributes this with helping to get Anthony good healthcare in Tunisia.
“If you’re booking a holiday, go and get the insurance, for the sake of two minutes.”
She added: “[Now] he’s great. He has a greater percentage of a risk of developing epilepsy but still, his chances are good.”
“He’s back out on the bike...his head gets a bit sore, and because it’s metal in his head, he might heat up quicker in the summer or get colder in the summer.”