I have to take a picture of ever moment with my son - if I don't, I'll just forget who he is.. EXCLUSIVE Pregnant with her first baby, Katie Booth couldn't wait to be a mum. But a life-threatening brain haemorrhage meant the joys of motherhood were nearly lost forever..
Every night after tucking her little boy into bed, Katie Booth sits down at the kitchen table and flicks through the dozens of photographs she's taken that day.
Playing in the park with son Elliot, three. Going to the supermarket together. Even things as ordinary as feeding him. Because unlike most mums, Katie can't remember doing any of those things, even just hours after doing them.
When she was four-and-a-half months pregnant, Katie suffered a life-threatening brain aneurysm. And while she and her baby managed to pull through, Katie developed short-term memory loss.
It is so severe, Katie needs to take up to 50 pictures a day to keep track of her life.
Her iPhone and camera are full of snaps of Elliot, because she's terrified of losing these precious moments.
"I carry them with me at all times and have a to-do list that tells me everything from who I've spoken to on the phone that day to what's in my fridge so I don't buy the weekly shop twice," explains Katie, 34.
"It's a strange way to live, but it's the only way I can remember.
"When my fiance, Jonathan, comes home, he asks what we've been doing. I have to get out the camera so I can remember all the special moments with our son that most mums take for granted. It frightens me how quickly I forget them."
Three years ago, Katie, who lives with Jonathan Roberts, 34, could never have imagined her life would take such a dramatic twist.
"I'd been going through a fairly normal pregnancy when one day I had a terrible migraine," she recalls. "When Jonathan came home I was in such a state he helped me on to the bed and put a damp cloth on my forehead to ease the pain.
"But things got worse and within a few hours I was vomiting and screaming in pain. My left side had gone stiff and I was falling in and out of consciousness."
Fearing for Katie and their child, Jonathan called for an ambulance. Katie was taken to hospital and diagnosed with a brain aneurysm.
Doctors explained that pregnancy had added to the pressure on the aneurysm - a weakened vein - and it had haemorrhaged. Left for much longer, it would have been fatal.
Katie explains: "It all happened so fast. Before I knew it my head was shaved and I was rushed for surgery to fit a coil in the aneurysm that would cut the risk of another rupture.
"It was very risky, made all the more dangerous by the fact I was pregnant. Doctors told Jonathan to prepare for the worst. I can only imagine the horror he must have gone through. There was a chance the baby and I would die.
"We had moved to Granada, Spain, to run a restaurant, but neither of us could speak Spanish. So we were unable to fully under stand what the doctors told us. It needed a lot of faith."
Miraculously, after the 10-hour procedure, Katie regained consciousness. But it would be another four months before she was able to go home.
"At first, I couldn't even hold my head up on my own. My left side was partially paralysed and my mobility suffered," recalls Katie.
She developed vasospasms - a potentially fatal condition that often follows a brain injury where blood vessels spasm and constrict.
"Normally, patients are put in a coma to give the brain time to heal but they couldn 't do this as I was pregnant. The first three weeks in hospital I was only semi-conscious and by the time I came around properly I was terrified by how helpless I'd become," she says.
"But every day, I made small improvements and in six weeks I was able to get out of bed by myself. By this point though, I had a huge belly and couldn't see my feet, which made learning to walk again hard.
"With our baby on the way I did my best to focus on getting better but inside I was a wreck. One day I saw myself in the mirror and almost collapsed in shock at my looks - I had 250 staples in my head."
"Though doctors assured me the baby would be OK I would lie awake at night crying and wondering if things would be normal again."
In July 2008, Katie gave birth to Elliot by caesarean. She stayed in hospital for another week and then was allowed to leave. When she got home, however, her memory loss suddenly became noticeable.
Katie says: "I hadn't realised how bad my memory was but with more things to juggle it became obvious I was forgetting big chunks of the day. This was devastating as I worried I'd miss out on all of Elliot's milestones.
"Initially I'd do things like leave a saucepan on the stove and forget about it. I had to make notes to remind about me things.
"Most bizarre was I could remember things from years ago but not what I'd done that morning. Doctors explained the part of my brain that controls short-term memory had been damaged.
"Because I was young they were confident that, given time, it would heal. Your memory is something that is easy to take for granted but I didn't have that luxury anymore. I treasured all my moments with Elliot but it was petrifying to know I was missing out on so much.
"I was often confused and relied heavily on Jonathan and my mum, who lives nearby, to fill in the blanks. But I was constantly frustrated - to me it was ludicrous that a grown woman should have to carry around a note telling her to 'make the bed'. But that was the reality of it."
Today, although Katie is mostly able to care for her son alone, she relies on the support of a carer to help her with daily tasks.
And her short-term memory problems means she can't remember what she's done even as recently as a few hours earlier.
So to make sure she never forgets a moment with her son, in August 2009, Katie started documenting her days and experiences.
She also keeps meticulous notes to remind herself of what she and Elliot have done.
"I write down absolutely everything and I can take up to 50 pictures in an afternoon," Katie says.
"The house is full of snapshots of Elliot getting his hair cut, playing in the park, walking down the road, even just watching TV.
"On top of that there are thousands and thousands of photos on our computer and each night I sit down to see what we've done that day.
"Some people would think they are just boring - pictures of Elliot standing in the playground or sitting in a supermarket trolley - but for me they're my lifeline.
"I'll find myself looking at them and then remembering that we went to the beach or did the shopping. Otherwise I wouldn't have known.
"A few years ago, we were a normal couple with a baby on the way, and I never could have imagined the way things would have turned out.
"But I try to look on the bright side whenever I can. I know I'll never be the same as I was but I know that I'm lucky to be alive.
"My mum, Elliot and Jonathan have given me the strength to overcome my horrific ordeal - now I just have to make sure I keep taking photographs so that I don't forget how lucky I am."
Elliot in the St Patrick's Day spirit last March
Elliot, aged eight months, enjoying lunch
21 months and still sucking his comforter
In August, playing on the beach Elliot loves
Happy to be in a big bed - wearing his shoes!
His dad helped him to climb a tree in the park
BOND: Elliot and Katie
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Oct 7, 2011|
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