A COUGHING fit turned a Ross-shire father’s life upside down when it led to a devastating brain injury.
A pinhole rupture to Ally Macleod’s windpipe caused septicaemia and his major organs to shut down. He was given just three hours to live but somehow found the strength to survive and managed to pull through.
He and was discharged from hospital after 10 months but now uses a wheelchair and needs a lot of support from his family – wife Diana and daughters Isla (12) and Katie (15), who live in David Oag Drive, Alness.
Now, as a way of thanking Headway Highland, which helped the family through this difficult time six years ago, Diana (39) and lifelong friend Stephanie Adlinton are pushing themselves to take on running challenges over the next few months to raise money for the charity.
Describing Ally’s traumatic ordeal, Diana told the Ross-shire Journal this week: “He was taken to Raigmore Hospital and was in intensive care. They told us there was very little hope and he had his last rites read to him.”
But thanks to being in his early 30s and having a strong heart, Ally survived though he suffers from short-term memory loss and nerve damage means he finds it difficult to balance, which is why he uses a wheelchair.
“He’ll need care for the rest of his life,” Diana said.
Giving her reasons for the fundraising drive for Headway Highland, she says: “We all take things for granted in life – holding hands as you walk down the street, lying in bed having a conversation about nothing, sharing the school run and dancing at a wedding.
“Six years ago all this became ‘something we used to do’. Six years on Ally has several developmental issues and requires a lot of support.
“However, he is still the most loving, kindest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet, and I am very proud to call him my husband.”
Stephanie and Diana formed their lasting friendship as pupils at Tain Royal Academy, and Stephanie wanted to do something to help her pal after Ally suffered his injury.
As she used to enjoy running before falling pregnant with her second child, Stephanie decided that taking up the sport again would be a good basis for a challenge – and a way to raise money at the same time.
She added: “I turned 40 in January so I also wanted to do something to mark that – a kind of four for 40 target.”
Having already done the Inverness Half Marathon in March, she is now training for the Fort William Marathon next month.
She said: “I’m looking forward to it, I’ve never run in Fort William before. I love running – it’s my ‘me’ time with two small children and a busy life.”
Stephanie, who works in the orthopaedics department at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, will follow the Fort William event up with the Loch Ness Marathon in September and a tough Culloden run of more than 17 kilometres.
She said she was delighted to be able to raise money for Headway Highland, adding: “It’s really about putting all that frustration at being powerless to help Ally directly into something positive and raising money for a group that’s doing something for him and Diana.”
Her Four Challenges for 40 donation page has a target of £1000.
Although Diana has not been quite as ambitious as her pal, she has also taken up running and aims to do her first 10k in September.
She said: “I started the couch to 5k programme in August last year having never jogged before but needing very much to do something for myself.
“It was definitely a great choice to make. I now have a fantastic bunch of friends, I’m a Jog Scotland leader and, more importantly, I feel great.
“I completed my first 5k in March and now I’m training to do the Baxter’s 10k in September.”
Headway Highland was established to help people living with a brain injury and their carers. It runs support groups throughout the region and offers a free counselling service.
• To contribute to the friends’ Headway Highland fundraising efforts, go to www.mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/stephanieadlinton1 and www.mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/dianamacleod2