Charlotte Henderson – North Devon

luckett(c)My brother Martyn moved up to Swindon with me in April 2005 to find work and to get a bit of life experience away from home.

Whilst he was up with me I think he learnt an awful lot about life without our parents’ support and I believe he actually found himself as an individual.

Martyn was not the most motivated person when it came to finding work, but he had found work for a couple of months in a local warehouse in Swindon and was starting to make a few friends of his own up there.

Martyn decided after three months that he was going to move home with his new determined attitude, so we decided to make his last weekend in Swindon the best. The weekend started on Friday night when we got a takeaway meal and watched Big Brother.

On Saturday morning we both took part in a local primary school’s fun run, which consisted of a 1.5 mile run that 250 people took part in (photograph showing us both after the run with our medals).

Since moving to Swindon, Martyn had been out running with me a few times, lost a bit of his puppy fat, and looked great for it.

In the run, Mart came 61st and completed the run in a good time. We both went for lunch in the local park with a friend of mine and had a good natter, then we went home to prepare for his last night out in Swindon. The night out was brilliant, as usual it was filled with lots of dancing and drinking of course. Martyn loved dancing and he always had the women looking at him because of his outgoing nature. I decided to leave Martyn in the club towards the end of the night because he was chatting to some girls and I did not want to cramp his style. By the time I got home he was waiting outside for me with some chips as he didn’t want me to go home alone. So we sat outside the flat and spent the next hour chatting and going over the night.

In the morning, I woke up and took my dog for a walk, then came back and watched Hollyoaks with Martyn. As with most people on a hangover, Martyn felt the need for junk food, so he went up to the local chippy and got some chips. On his return he mentioned that he felt a little funny across his chest, I put it down to the rubbish he had eaten all weekend and a hangover. The funny feelings lasted all day, but he did not feel any pain, so he did not make a big deal about it.

In the afternoon, we went down to the local lake to take my dog for a walk and played crazy golf. Martyn was sweating quite a lot, but it was a very hot day and he usually sweated a lot. After we left the lake, we went to get some food to cook for tea. Because he had eaten a load of rubbish all weekend, I decided to cook him something healthy, so we got some salad and had a very healthy tea.

Martyn was still feeling a little weird and started to feel a bit dizzy and feverish so he decided to go for a nap before Big Brother started at 9pm. I rang Mum, as I did every evening, she was a little concerned as Mum’s always get. So she asked me to ring up the NHS Helpline and ask their advice, so I did. I was told that a nurse would call back within four hours. After I got off the phone I asked my neighbour, Nicola, to pop around to check on Martyn. Nicola, Martyn and I sat together in the bedroom and we were all laughing and joking. Nicola told Martyn that he probably had caught a cold and to just drink water and get plenty of rest, which is what you would tell someone who had a cold. Once Nicola left, Martyn went to sleep for an hour. I woke Martyn after an hour because he wanted to watch Big Brother. When he got up he said that he felt much better and he did. It was as though he never felt ill earlier.

The nurse rang back from the NHS Helpline and was concerned that Martyn had been feeling dizzy and having feelings across his chest, so she recommended that I telephoned my doctor for his opinion, which is what I did. I was then told by my doctor’s surgery that a doctor would call back within thirty minutes. By this time it was 11.30pm and Martyn was feeling back to his normal self, so I asked him if he minded whether I went to bed because I was working in Bristol the next morning and would have to be up early. I told him if he still felt ill in the morning I would take him to my doctor. He told me not to worry and to go to bed. So I did. The last thing I said to him was if he needed me in the night to wake me.

At this point, the doctor called back but I didn’t talk to him, I just listened to Martyn’s side of the conversation from my bedroom. From what I gather, the doctor told him to go and see him in the morning if he was still ill.

I had just settled in bed and needed to go to the toilet so I got up and walked through the living room and Martyn was up watching TV. I smiled at him and went back to bed.

For some reason I woke up and went to the living room. The next few minutes are a blur. Martyn had collapsed and was unconscious. I put Martyn into recovery position and called an ambulance, which came within five minutes but it felt like hours. I was taken out of the flat. The paramedics spent what seemed like hours in with him. We got in the ambulance and drove to the hospital. I was taken into the relatives room, where I waited for a few minutes.

The doctor came in and told me to sit down. I never imagined he was going to tell me what he did. He informed me that Martyn had passed away a few minutes ago and that they did everything they possibly could to save him. I just looked at him and said nothing.

The post mortem revealed no cause of death, so we were advised, because of the way Martyn had felt that previous day, to send Martyn’s heart to a professor in Southampton University for further research. This was a hard decision to make for my family. It took five weeks to get an answer and in the meantime, we had the funeral, which is the hardest thing that we have ever had to do as a family. There were 450 people at the funeral. My other Brother, Nick, and I gave a tribute.

We were informed that Martyn died of Myocarditis, which is a form of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS). We did not really know anything about SADS, so I looked on the Internet and came across a website called CRY, which stands for Cardiac Risk in the Young. On this website it said that up to eight young apparently fit people under the age of 35 die from SADS a week in the UK. There are a number of forms of SADS, most of which are inherited heart conditions. Myocarditis is not one of those. It is a viral infection that attacks the heart muscle, in worse cases it proves fatal. Although Myocarditis is not hereditary, it would appear that Martyn had an underlying heart condition, which made his heart susceptible to Myocarditis.

SADS has nothing whatsoever to do with someone being overweight or inactive, because how can someone at the age of 19 just collapse and die? Although Martyn was quite lazy in his working life, he was always active and competed nationally with his motorcycle trials and represented the South West on a number of occasions in the sport.

My family have all been screened for potential heart problems over the last year and at present, my Brother, Dad and I are fine, however, my Mum has been found to have the condition that Martyn had. At least we are aware of Mum’s condition now and can control and monitor it. CRY have offered us support and counselling to come to terms with Martyn’s death. I also wanted to highlight, without scare mongering, the seriousness of someone’s symptoms when they are feeling unwell. Not in a million years would I have thought on that Sunday when Martyn and I were playing crazy golf, that I would be attending his funeral two weeks later. But as usual, with the benefit of hindsight, we would all do things differently. Although I have been told by many doctors that nothing I did would have saved Martyn because of the severity of the viral infection, it has taken me a long time to realise that at least I can look back now and say that we had so much fun that weekend because we were both so unaware of what was going to happen, which would change our lives forever.

I was honoured to be asked to be a County Representative to CRY, which will allow me to give something back to CRY and I can carry out awareness and more fundraising in memory of my dearest Brother Martyn.

If you would like to contact one of our Representatives or a Bereavement Supporter please call the CRY office at 01737 363222 or e-mail cry@c-r-y.org.uk and we will put you in touch with someone who may be able to help you.