Family Money: Tracking Managers
Managing director of Westminster Portfolio Services (Thailand) Ltd.
Many investors fall into the trap of buying funds on
the back of past performance league tables. Understandably, it is assumed
the funds that came top over the last one, three or five years are
probably the best ones to pick. Unfortunately selecting a good fund is not
as easy as that.
Apart from the fact that the source of your information
may be biased (who’s giving you the information, and to what end?), or
inadequate (even the financial trade papers only publish performance
figures of those funds they’re paid to list), there’s a lot more to
selecting a particular fund to represent a particular sector in your
portfolio’s strategic mix than last year’s performance ranking –
although I grant that this is an influencing factor. Indeed, for many
amateur investors, the one and only deciding factor.
But one should also ask: how did that fund achieve its
result? Was it good judgement, or good luck? And how did the manager
perform the year before, and the year before that? Has he shown consistent
above-average performance, or has it been like a roller coaster? If so,
why? Nature of the fund? Nature of the market? Or personality trait of the
One of the main reasons why it is so dangerous to act
on past performance tables is that staff turnover in the fund management
industry is very high. When you study a performance table there is a high
chance that the numbers you are looking at were achieved by someone who
has since moved on.
In a recent survey of the worst performing onshore
UKbased funds, it was found that 77% of the funds identified had
experienced at least one change of fund manager over the past three years.
For expats investing in offshore funds the implications are just as
There are numerous reasons for the high level of
turnover. Consolidation among financial institutions has been a major
global trend and some managers inevitably leave in the resulting
reorganisation. Another factor has been a brain drain from mainstream fund
companies into hedge fund boutiques. A further driver of fund manager
turnover has been the fostering of a “star manager” culture that means
the leading performers become highly poachable.
Do individual managers really matter? The answer is a
qualified “yes”, though the extent varies. At one extreme there are
funds designed simply to replicate the behaviour of an index or that
operate according to a rigidly defined quantitative model. In these cases,
the impact of human judgment is minimised so change in personnel is less
At the other end of the spectrum are funds where the
managers have considerable freedom: essentially investors are being asked
to back the personal judgment of a “star”. This especially applies to
many hedge funds.
Most funds are somewhere in the middle of these two
extremes, requiring their managers to operate within certain parameters
and constraints. For example, the extent to which a manager can take a bet
for or against a sector or major stock in an index may be limited to a
specified percentage. Other managers must primarily select their stocks
from a company-approved “core list” or “model portfolio” drawn up
by the institution’s research department. (This restraint commonly
applies to private banking services which claim to provide personalised
portfolio management services with your own portfolio manager – but
typically put your money into the bank’s one-size-fits-all conservative
portfolio designed by The Powers upstairs.)
But even in these cases, the buck ultimately stops with
the lead manager; individual fund managers are, therefore, still the most
important ingredient in the recipe. So when you are selecting an
investment fund it is essential that you link past performance to the
manager you are buying today. Only a handful of funds have been managed by
the same individual for more than a decade. And these managers may be
nearing retirement or burn-out.
A further problem with analysing a manager’s past
performance is whether or not they have simply been lucky. Many investment
advisers will assess performance on a three- or fiveyear view, but you
should never underestimate the role of chance when looking at such
relatively short periods. (Yes: three years is considered a short period
in the investment world!) It has been demonstrated statistically that over
one year, a group of monkeys can select as many winners as a group of
professionals. Even over three years there remains a significant
probability that out-performance is simply due to luck. Only over longer
periods – 5, 10, 20 years – do the professionals consistently
outperform the monkeys.
Of course, no matter how sophisticated an approach you
take to studying a fund manager’s past record, this will never be a
precise predictor of the future. For example, even managers with long
records of out-performance at acceptable levels of volatility can still be
lured away to run a new fund with an unattractive structure, remit or high
charges. And qualitative research can also highlight other concerns such
as growth in fund size (very large funds may become more difficult to
manage, or simply have too much money to invest – as happened with
Fidelity’s giant Magellan Fund.) Or a manager may now have too many
other distractions (directorships, additional management responsibilities
and so on). It is essential to dig behind the figures and take a view on
The key message for investors is that it is important
to be sceptical about buying a fund purely on superficial past
performance. Of course we all know the caveat that’s on every fund
brochure: “Past performance is not an indication of future
performance.” That same caveat should perhaps be attached to the
manager, not just the fund he is managing. So it is very important to have
a clear idea of who is running the fund today before committing to a
purchase. Once you have invested, it is vital to monitor the fund for
personnel changes: former top performing funds can deteriorate if the
manager leaves and the replacement is not of sufficient calibre. A change
of manager always requires a thorough reappraisal as to whether you stay
in the fund or take your capital elsewhere.
Personal Directions: Presentation is everything!
By Christina Dodd,
founder and managing director of Incorp Trining Associates
Did you ever catch a quick glimpse of yourself in a window
or a mirror whilst shopping or walking in a street during rush-hour and then
gasp to yourself, “My goodness is that me! Do I really look like that!”
then hurry along not wanting to repeat the same experience - not wanting to
bump into that person again? I know we can’t all be looking our pristine
best all of the time, but we shouldn’t be creating shock waves either.
I really do think that there is a lot to be said for the
way we present ourselves no matter what the occasion or moment.
Sure, the shopping trip on a weekend is a time when we all
relax and let our hair down in terms of appearance and dress and some people
are great proponents of this - that’s fine - and indeed there are casual
times when it’s comfortable and easy to hang out without too much formality
attached to it. But we don’t need to transfer it to the weekday when it’s
business as usual and there might be cause to look a little more refined.
Believe it or not some people do get confused with what day it is!
Lately I have been working on some projects concerning how
to develop and project a positive and professional image and the enhancement
of presentation styles and skills. I tend to find these areas of training
quite fascinating because of the way people perceive themselves and the way
they behave in front of a camera or on tape and then react on replay! It might
seem unusual, but the fact remains that we are still struck with amazement
when we watch ourselves walk or hear ourselves speak, despite all the
technological innovations that surround us and are at our fingertips.
I find that the videotape recorder is the most valuable
piece of equipment anyone can have the experience of using and it’s pure
brilliance, not to mention absolutely essential, for any training program that
involves presentation and public speaking skills. It doesn’t tell any lies,
it’s true to every movement, every sound - every wrinkle too! It understands
moods, attitudes, and patterns of behaviour and is a tool that can frame and
chart the process of building and developing existing skills.
One client I worked with on this particular subject was
astounded at the difference in results he found with his employees once they
had become used to being videotaped and saw how it could help them improve.
The staff involved in the program were all highly qualified in the field of
sales and marketing and customer service, but were lacking in some of the
basic skills of personal presentation, techniques of speech, delivery and body
language. So much so, that it was having a marked effect on the end of month
sales figures and causing some customer enquiries and complaints that he
really did not want to have. This was a case where qualifications and
experience were at a serious imbalance.
In order to address these problems, we designed a specific
program that combined theory and worked on the principle of “practice,
practice and more practice!” The training facility was set up for a period
of three days (yes it was an intensive and dramatic schedule) and looked more
like a stage set than a training room. It was very effective because it
produced results! Every single participant was literally put “on stage”
and went through periods of rehearsals, filming and playback, instructor and
peer critique and review - until they got it right. Learning by doing,
learning by this pure and simple approach worked wonders in terms of boosting
confidence as well.
I am a firm believer in, “practice makes perfect”. And
I also am a believer in bringing out the best in people - people do surprise
you with ability that you never thought they had. Quite often management
writes people off all too quickly because they have not taken the time to do
one simple thing, and that is to provide enough encouragement and nurturing to
help draw out the capabilities of their staff. This effort does take effort -
and commitment - on the part of employers.
Some people need a lot of encouragement in the area of
public speaking and delivering presentations be they selling a housing
project, selling space on a satellite or selling advertising concepts. It’s
all to do with representing their company, being out there and being at their
best. And that requires them to be “exposed”, one could say, up-front
where everybody can see and notice every little mistake, hesitation, flaw in
appearance, roughness in technique. It’s bare bones time and it takes a lot
of inner strength and gumption to overcome the fear that most people have
whether speaking to a hall of 300 listeners or presenting to a closed group of
six potential buyers.
But when the techniques are refined and polished; when the
subject matter is word perfect and professionally prepared; when the voice is
crisp and clear and captivating; when the methods are exciting, dynamic and
hold the audience’s interest; then the results can only be positive ones and
ones that will not only lead to excellence on the part of the speaker or
presenter, but lead to successful results and rewards for the company as a
Every company needs to excel in selling themselves. And
every person in a company from the Chairman and CEO, all the way down the
management ladder, to the sales staff and telemarketers, to the van drivers
who deliver goods - is selling the company to a certain point. To represent a
company in a successful way requires good presentation skills.
There are some very famous hotels where the “doorman”
is the face of the hotel. The doorman has become so highly valued by the
management that in many cases he earns considerably more than them - because
he has refined the art of presentation and representation. At all levels,
presentation is important. It is, or should be, a required and necessary skill
because of the power it has to either make or break a sale, keep a customer
satisfied and simply turn minuses into pluses sometimes on a grand scale.
The way we look, the way we walk and talk, the way we
regard ourselves and carry ourselves, our body language - these are all
elements we need to look at from time to time and take stock of. So much of
the time we forget about how professional or unprofessional our appearance is.
We think that what we have on “will do”. We think that it doesn’t really
matter if our hair is a bit untidy (it’s windy outside - that’s my excuse)
or the shoes need re-heeling. No-one’s going to look are they? No one will
care about how we drag our feet or slump our shoulders - it’s who we are!
They won’t notice all the hand waving and the drifting eyes or monotone
voice - not at all - they there for the product!
Well - yes indeed they are. And YOU are the one who
presents it - or have you forgotten? So if they, the customer, are not
impressed by you and what you have to say and how you say it, then you can
call it a day! They won’t be back and quite possibly nor will you.
Presentation is everything because it sets the tone for
what comes next. It’s not about outward beauty and good looks, it’s about
being in touch with who you are, having a presence and an aura about yourself,
being fit spiritually, mentally and physically, having an ability to draw on
and hold people’s interest and being in control.
Should you like to inquire about Incorp’s Presentation
Skills and Public Speaking Programs, please email me at
[email protected] ing.com or contact me directly at Incorp Training
Associates in Bangkok, tel. (0) 2652 1867-8, fax; (0) 26521870. Program
details can be found at www. incorptraining.com
The Doctor's Consultation by Dr. Iain Corness: Cataract
The official definition of Cataract is an opacity in the
ocular lens that reduces visual acuity to 20/30 or less (normal is 20/20). Put
in simpler terms, the lens in your eye, through which you see and focus,
When you are a younger adult then your lens is perfectly
clear and able to be ‘bent’ by the muscles in the eye so that you can
focus the eye to read. As you get older, generally after the age of 40, the
lens begins to get opacities and the ability to ‘bend’ the lens enough to
read at close distances is lost. This is why most of us, over the age of 45,
need reading glasses to see the newspaper clearly. Either that or longer arms.
Cataracts themselves are actually classified in four types,
depending upon where they are in the lens, but you can have more than one type
in your lens. As time goes on, the lens opacities increase and eventually you
cannot see properly, even with glasses. The condition, though progressive, is
So apart from age, what else can predispose you to getting
cataracts? Guess what? Number 1 on the list is smoking, followed by poor
nutrition and steroids and exposure to UV light.
There is no ‘magic tablet’ either to reverse the
process in the lens, the only ‘cure’ is removal of the opaque, hardened
item and replacement with an Intra Ocular Lens, known in the ophthalmological
trade as an IOL. IOL’s have been around since the 1940’s, but it is fairly
recent that they have become cheap to manufacture and the surgical side has
become so exact.
To show just how commonplace the operation is these days,
1.5 million cataract extractions were done in the USA in 1992 and of those,
1.425 million received an IOL. The operation these days is very quick and
almost fool-proof, and can even be done under local anaesthetic if required.
During the operation, the capsule of the lens is opened and
the cataract affected lens is extracted (sometimes it is liquefied by laser)
and the new, clear plastic IOL inserted. With modern techniques there
sometimes need be no sutures either. Amazing. There is also no need for the
patient to wait until the cataract matures. Once the vision has deteriorated,
the timing to do the IOL is elective, worked out between the ophthalmologist
and the patient. Cataract surgery is considered to be one of the most
successful surgical procedures that can be done, with 95% of the post
operative patients having excellent vision.
However, one patient who had his cataract surgery done here
told me afterwards he was going to sue the ophthalmic surgeon. When I asked
him why, he replied, “Now I can see how ugly my wife is!”
By the way, there is an interesting phenomenon known as
“Second Sight” where the lens hardening produces short-sightedness, which
goes to ‘balance out’ the difficulty with reading that is normally
expected. The result is that 6-70 year olds suddenly find that they no longer
need reading glasses! Unfortunately this is short-lived.
Associated eye diseases such as conditions that affect the
retina, for example, diabetes, can be a contra-indication to IOL surgery, and
this is why it is important to have a full ocular check, including examination
of the retina before the decision to operate is done.
While the rest of the world seems to have discovered
sensible shoes for women (take a look at what the lady tourists are
wearing) it seems that Thai women have not. Everywhere you look there are
these young girls teetering along on those outdated platform shoes. It is
not a good look, as far as I am concerned. Is there some reason that
Thailand got left behind after the platform trend died off in the west? Or
is it another of those Asian inscrutables?
You appear to be an observant chappie - up to a
point! You have spotted the footwear, but now have a look at the rest of
the person on the elevator clogs. Thai women tend to be small, if you
haven’t noticed, and to get on an equal footing they need those 10
centimetres, Petal. This way they can get up to being level with you and
whisper sweet nothings in your ear. If you whisper sweet nothings doing
back, then they’ll totter off on their stilts and find someone else more
their own size! You mention a “good look” and also suggest we girls
should be looking at what lady tourists are wearing. My Petal, that is an
oxymoron (look it up, it is not a mentally retarded buffalo). Hillary does
not wish to be seen in velcro strapped sandals and hairy legs. Sorry.
The other night I was friendly towards a girl in a club
(domestic staff, not a bartendee) and the next day a letter was delivered
to my work written by her sister telling me that the girl had no boyfriend
but had two sons and she wanted to see me because she thought I was a very
nice man. I had just finished reading the note and the next minute she
appeared and I must admit I was totally unprepared for this. I just wanted
her out of my workplace as soon as possible, I was so embarrassed, so I
thanked her and said I was busy, gave her 40 Baht for the taxi and told
her to go. The guys in the office are still laughing at me and say I am a
fool, while my other friends say she just wants money. What do you think,
There are a couple of ways of looking at this. Sure,
she may have decided that you are an “easy touch” and will bug you to
death until you either weaken and give her money or get angry and tell her
to go. On the other hand, you are talking about a single parent with two
children and you were not only nice to her, but represent huge wealth,
compared to her circumstances. Why should she not pursue the almighty
dollar? You would have to give her 10 out of 10 for effort. You will never
know which of these alternatives is correct (some of the great mysteries
of life in Thailand) and if you do nothing she will undoubtedly disappear.
It is up to you. Finally, may I be frank (Ooh, some days I can’t help
myself!) the other lesson you have to learn, young Frank, is how did she
find out where you worked? You didn’t give her your business card, now
did you! Never, never flash your business cards in bars, pubs or clubs.
They will return like homing pigeons and poop on you just when you don’t
My Thai wife and I have been on the road the last three
years, working in Malaysia, Indonesia and now Korea. Our home is on the
outskirts of town, that we only get short visits to every couple of
months. I very much look forward to the end of the week when I can read
your latest edition on your website, not as good as the hardcopy, which I
buy whenever I’m in your city, but a good second best. My personal
favourite is you, Hillary. I can’t believe you really receive some of
those silly letters, and suspect you make them up, but it doesn’t matter
as they are entertaining regardless. Do you mind answering a question from
me? Did you ever race cars? Anyway, thanks a bunch for making life away
from home a little easier and best regards from a very chilly Korea.
Aren’t you a sweet man! But a little deluded too,
Petal. Of course I get all those “silly” letters - just the same way
that I got yours too, didn’t I? I must say I feel sorry for your wife -
all that commuting from your house to foreign countries! No wonder you
only get home every couple of months! All that travelling “on the
road” as you say - that really is doing it the hard way. Getting back to
your question - did you wonder if I raced cars hoping that I could show
you a quicker way between here and Korea? My dear Art, I think it is much
better that you just settle down and get a real job closer to home. Two
months travelling time is just too much.
Camera Class: Composition - part of the photographic conundrum
Sometimes photography can be just a case of grasping an
opportunity. In fact, in the world of Public Relations they even use words such
as, “There will be a photo opportunity with the President after the Press
Take a look at this week’s photo. This was a straight out
case of seizing the opportunity and had a humorous result. Harry had been
approached by a hopeful young model who was looking to get a portfolio together.
This is a bundle of shots they drag around the modelling agencies, hoping that
they will get some work. The rewards can be enormous, but only a very few get to
the top where the enormous rewards are.
I had also been approached by a young make-up artist who
wanted a bunch of photographs to show the same modelling agencies just what she
could produce. It seemed a natural to bring these two hopefuls together for a
session at the studio.
On the appointed day we looked across the street and some
aerosol can bandit had sprayed “Violence grows” on the wall - and the first
opportunity presented itself. “Let’s use the wall as the background for a
shot where the model is made up to look like a punk rocker.”
The make-up artist went to work while my assistant and I
scoured the wardrobe area of the studio. The model already had the black tights
and white boots, her boyfriend had the leather jacket and we had the string vest
and the chain, a regulation hardware shop item.
We also decided that we should have a couple of aerosol cans
to do one shot as if the model were the graffiti artist, so we added those to
the equipment we would take down to the shooting area. Harry even remembers the
colour - Planet Purple - an important part of this tale.
We set up the model in position, the camera was on a tripod
because I wanted to take some slow shutter speed shots to give an impression of
movement in the chain and the assistant had the flash unit. We had taken only a
couple of shots when up draws a police car - “Who’s in charge round here?”
said the most gorgeous lady police officer Harry had ever seen. “I am” said
Harry sauntering over to the car.
By this stage Harry is thinking that the greatest opportunity
of all time was presenting itself. Gorgeous police officer “arresting” punk
rocker photo - all the ingredients were right there. This idyllic notion quickly
disappeared with the words “I am going to arrest you for defacing public
property” from said gorgeous police lady!
Still hopeful Harry laughed and said, “It wasn’t us,
we’re just taking a photograph of this young model.” “So where did the
aerosol cans come from?” she barked. It was then I looked at the colour on the
wall - white. Our cans were Planet Purple! Eventually gorgeous police lady
believed the story and they moved on. Harry did not suggest she pose for the
ultimate shot seen in his mind’s eye.
So we photographed the model without the aerosol spray paint
cans and just relied on the make-up, outfit and the chain for the effect. The
shutter speed selected was
1/8th of a second and this was slow enough to show a little movement in the
chain, but not as much as I had hoped, but the model did well to remain still
during the exposure. Harry thinks you will agree that the end result was good
and in fact the young lady and the make-up artist both got work from that day of
seized opportunity. However, like fisherman, the opportunistic shot that “got
away” still lives on!
Of course, the moral of this story is that you should always
look out for shots that may present themselves to you. It also means that you
have a camera at the ready. And it also means you have to have your excuses at
the ready too! Think on your feet!
Recipes from Rattana: Deep-fried Coconut Batter Cakes
This is a quick and easy Thai dessert, but not one for the children to
experiment with, since it is a deep-fried item and cooking oil burns can be
very dangerous (and painful). The batter for the cakes can be used to dip
bananas (or other fruits) in and deep fry them as well. Resist the urge to pour
chocolate syrup on top. It is already sweet enough and loaded with calories!
Palm sugar 100 gm
Water 3 cups
Rice flour 250 gm
Baking powder 2 tspns
Salt a pinch
Grated coconut (fresh or desiccated) 150 gm
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Warm the water over a moderate heat and dissolve the sugar
in it to form a syrup. Make a paste of rice flour, the egg, baking powder, salt
and coconut. Add the syrup and beat the mixture to form a smooth batter.
In the deep fryer, heat the oil and then drop large
spoonfuls of the batter mixture into the oil. Heat till golden brown then drain
and serve when cool.
Ingredients serves 4-6
Battling the Crab By Leslie Wright: Part 3 of a 6-part series about fighting cancer
The next morning I met my medical oncologist for the
first time. A highly regarded consultant and teaching doctor, I found her
manner imperious and domineering.
But I’m not alone in this opinion: another of my
clients coincidentally had had an unpleasant experience with her two years
earlier. Indeed, it seems she adopts the same attitude to all her patients.
Her first words to me were not the expected “Sawasdee
kah” or “Good morning,” delivered with the ubiquitous Thai smile, but:
“You know what you have?” And when I told her what the professor the
night before had told me, and that I had less than two years to live, she
interrupted: “Oh no,” she said. “Between 9 and 13 months.” I had
just had my shortened life expectancy effectively halved, and the sentence
delivered as if she were counting cabbages.
On another occasion she told me that I should be more
like the Thais. “In what way?” I asked. “You should learn to accept
your destiny,” she declared in her typical matter-of-fact way. Yes,
ma’am. Forgive my low person still being alive, ma’am. So sorry to take
up space in your office, ma’am. Let me just curl up in the corner and die,
If you ever get this sort of treatment from your doctor,
I would strongly urge you to get rid of her or him. One of the secrets of
success in fighting cancer is to fight it both medically and mentally - not
simply accept that it is going to kill you. Just because your doctor has
degrees which you don’t, and is successful and respected in his or her
profession, does not make him or her omniscient or omnipotent. Remember that
he or she works for you, not the other way round.
I put up with this oncologist’s doom-&-gloom
attitude for six months because the other doctors kept telling me what a
good doctor she is, and that’s just her manner.
But everything I read about fighting cancer told me to
maintain a positive attitude at all times, and surround myself with positive
attitudes - and here was my own consultant doctor exuding negativity!
What really distresses me is that someone with less
fighting spirit than I - especially a Thai who culturally has been brought
up not to question a doctor’s authority and pronouncements from on high -
might easily have just given up hope.
One example of this doctor’s negative attitude that
particularly sticks in my mind was at the end of February, three months into
the treatment, when a CAT-scan showed that my tumour had got smaller. My
radiation therapist - a bubbly lady doctor with a radiant personality (if
you’ll forgive the awful pun) - told me: “I have good news - your tumour
has shrunk!” Immediately afterwards I had to go in to see my oncologist,
who as usual sat there like a slender icicle. I said: “I’ve been told
the tumour is shrinking.” To which she responded: “Yes. I expected that.
But it’ll come back in three months.” Dig hole, enter grave. Lay still,
At the end of April, upon completing my sixth and final
round of in-patient chemotherapy, I was given another CAT-scan and MRI-scan,
which showed that the tumour had shrunk further, to the point where my
friendly radiologist came especially up to my hospital room to give me the
good and most unexpected news that my cancer was effectively in remission.
In remission! I had never expected to hear those words. Only 5% of carcinoma
patients go into remission - which is statistically such a small number that
the doctors usually don’t even mention it. I was of course delighted and
my morale boosted no end. Indeed, it was like a great weight had been lifted
from my shoulders.
But a fortnight later, immediately after a positive
review meeting with my friendly radiologist, I raised this good news with my
oncologist, Dr Doomengloom (as I had nicknamed her), and asked her whether I
might now last longer than her predicted 9~13 months. As I had rather
expected, she curtly answered: “Who knows.”
Then I asked her what she thought were the chances of the
tumour coming back. She said, “Oh it’ll come back for sure, or
So, just to goad her a little, I asked: “When do you
think it will come back, statistically speaking?” To which she shrugged
and said, “Could be any time.” Lots of hope and encouragement there. And
even though I fully expected her to be typically negative, these responses
destroyed the good mood I had gone into her office with, and depressed me
for three days. It was then that I decided to dispense with her services and
request another oncologist to monitor my progress in future.
An important lesson I’ve learned during my Battle with
The Crab is to think positively and surround oneself with positive
influences, and eliminate negative thoughts and influences - which includes
As I have experienced first-hand, your doctors’
attitudes will have a marked effect on whether you feel positive about your
fight with cancer - that you can beat it - or negative, and accept that it
is going to kill you.
You don’t have to - and indeed, shouldn’t - give up
hope just because a doctor tells you to. Many people beat the disease
against all the doctors’ dire predictions, which after all, are only
statistical probabilities, not certainties.
(To be continued next week)
A mother’s worst nightmare Part
By Lesley Warner
The hospital supplied a family room and that is where we
stayed morning and night for a week. Taking turns to sit by Emma’s bedside
and talk to her. Have you ever even imagined what it’s like to talk to
your unconscious child and wonder if she can hear? You watch these hospital
movies so often on the TV portraying the distress and nightmare that
families go through in these situations. Believe me it’s far more
difficult to know what to say to an unconscious loved one than the movies
make out. But you know you have to talk, it might be the only thing that
will make her want to wake up.
On the 5th day she eventually started to come round in a
delirious state but it only lasted for a few hours. She was struggling to
pull the tubes from her mouth that prevented her from speaking and were
making her gag. The readings on the many pieces of equipment went from bad
to worse and she was soon unconscious again and deteriorated through the
night. The next day the doctor came into the room and said, “I’m sorry
Emma cannot survive the next 24 hours the way things are. We have to take
her down for a CAT scan to try and discover what’s causing this decline in
her condition. Moving her is in itself is a considerable risk.” At this
moment I felt this was not real; it’s ridiculous this is my daughter
he’s talking about, he must be mistaken, but he wasn’t, it was very
They did a dummy run first with a nurse and all the life
support equipment, then it was for real and they took her. We waited what
seemed an eternity not knowing if she would come back dead or alive. The
doctor came out and spoke to us again, with another “I’m so sorry we
can’t find a cause for her decline. I’m afraid it’s up to her,
there’s no more we can do.” I can understand why people pass out, I felt
near to the breaking point and for the first time my solid front crumpled,
but all we could do was wait.
Several more interminable hours passed and then the
doctor came out smiling. He said, “We’re not out of the woods yet, but
don’t ask me why, we don’t understand it, she is the 1 out of 10 that
has turned and she’s fighting back.”
For the next 5 days hospital staff fought to keep her
stable and Emma fought to live. It was the longest 5 days of my life. They
decided to perform a tracheotomy so that the added distress of having a tube
in her mouth would not upset her. Then one morning she started slowly to
come round. It took 2 days before we could talk to her (she couldn’t talk
to us because of the tracheotomy). She’s says now that she doesn’t
remember those times. The morphine and assortment of drugs and painkillers
kept her in a dream state for quite a while.
As I washed the blood out of her hair and held her poor
crushed hand while it was bandaged, I was so grateful that she was alive.
I had commitments in Thailand and needed to return; it
was the hardest thing in the world to leave her, but by this time I knew she
was off the critical list. She doesn’t remember the first days of
consciousness so didn’t know I was there in person. But she tells me all
the times I said to her, “I’m so proud of you, you are such a strong
girl and can fight this, please come back.” She says, “I thought that I
was dreaming it.” So it is true the words that you say in frustration to
someone that’s unconscious can have a great impact on their survival.
Now 6 weeks after the accident it is time for me to
return to England to help Emma through the surgery that she is due to have
during the next 2 weeks. She has the added complication of the infection
MRSA, which we are obviously concerned about, but she has proved herself a
courageous girl with a strong will for survival.
At some point in the future I will continue the story of
Emma’s recovery. Emma has said she will talk to me about her side of it
and what it’s like to lose two and a half weeks of your life and know that
your life will never be the same again.