Paralysed by a PORK CHOP: Father-of-two, 46, almost dies after eating undercooked meatBy Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 7:06 PM on 22nd June 2011
A father-of-two today told how he almost died after eating an under-cooked pork chop.
Darren Ashall, a plant operator from Chorley, Lancashire, developed a potentially lethal brain bug that has left him in hospital for nearly five months.
The 46-year-old cannot walk and still struggles to communicate. However, doctors told him he is lucky to be alive after listeria meningitis attacked his immune system and left an abscess on his brain.
Struggle: Darren was described as the 'life and soul of the party' before he developed a brain abscess (left). He is now wheel-chair bound but hopes to walk again (right)
He said: 'I thought one of the chops wasn't cooked properly. I regretted eating it straight away. I knew it was a mistake.
'A month later I went to hospital thinking I was having a heart attack. After three days, my face started drooping on one side and people thought I was having a stroke.
'I was treated for that, but nothing helped.'
Darren had picked up the listeria bug, which can lay dormant for up to 70 days. He first visited Chorley and South Ribble Hospital on February 11 but was initially sent home.
He returned two days later after his condition worsened and he was checked into intensive care. His wife Paula, 43, and sons Sam, 19, and Jack, 21, kept a bedside vigil as he deteriorated.
Mrs Ashall said she was sure her husband was going to die. She said: 'On Darren's birthday the doctor took us into a side room and told us how poorly he was and I was convinced they were going to tell me he wouldn't make it.
'I just had this horrible feeling he was going to die. They said that if he had been a couple of years older he wouldn't have made it.'
Paralysed: Darren was close to dying but said he was determined to keep fighting for the sake of his family
After a few weeks he was transferred to the Royal Preston Hospital and slowly regained his sight and voice.
Speaking from his hospital bed, he said: 'It was such a battle and the experience absolutely drained me.
'I was in intensive care and I was too scared to close my eyes because I didn't think I'd ever wake up again.
'I was surrounded by my children and my wife Paula, and they all just looked terrified.
'We found it hard to talk about my condition without crying, and we often thought it would be the last time we saw each other.
'But I told myself I wasn't going to die, and I slowly started to win the fight.'
He added: 'My family have been my rock, and I'm looking forward to being back at home with them. The man I used to be is long gone though.'
Darren will never fully recover from the effects of the bug and will need antibiotics for the rest of his life.
In addition, once he regains the ability to walk he will have to rely on a scooter for long distances.
He said: 'I feel so vulnerable now, and worried about what lies ahead, but this has really made me appreciate what I've got.
'Life is so precious and fragile, and you could have a big house and a fancy car, but none of that matters at the end of the day.'
Darren has vowed to cook for himself again one day. He also wants to write a book and wishes to set up a charity to thank the nursing staff who cared for him.
Paula said: 'Compared to how he was, he has made a lot of progress. He couldn't talk or move at all and his vision went double.
'His vision is back and he has managed to teach himself how to speak again.
'Before all this, Darren used to be the life and soul of the party. Now he's a shadow of his former self - but I'm just glad he's still alive.'