Giving Something Back

Giving Something Back

10th May, 2018

"Towards the end of 2015 I had just got my dream job working at Pinewoods Studios in the prop department, thanks to a 25-year career in 3D printing.  I was staying at the Pinewoods Hotel when I developed what I thought was just a terrible migraine. Being a bloke, I gathered myself together and drove to Cambridgeshire. When I got back my wife Rachel insisted I see my GP- I had a drooping eye that she said just didn’t look right.

It was all very sudden. After examining me the GP said I had to pack my bag and go straight to hospital. A tumour the size of a fist was found in the left frontal lobe of my brain. After the operation to remove it I developed a severe reaction to the steroids I had been given and, amongst other things, tried to escape from the hospital. The team at Addenbrooke’s were wonderful and said they had seen it all before!

I developed an infection after they tried to put a plate in which left me with a big hole in my head.  It wasn’t so much the cosmetic aspect of things that worried me but more that I was anxious about how vulnerable my head was. I kept thinking all that anyone would have to do was hit me on the head by accident with a handbag on a bus or something, and I would get another injury.  I came across the bump cap- which is a baseball cap with a reinforced panel inside that people wear in low risk situations on building sites. The great thing about the cap is that it stops me feeling anxious about hurting my head again. I even have the confidence to take public transport on my own.

By the end of 2016 I had got myself a job at The Innovations Lab in Peterborough, running 3D printers and much more. I have very few cognition or physical issues following my brain injury. The only thing I struggle with is fatigue and I have to pace myself. Sometimes people don’t realise that I have had a brain injury which is good in one way, but it means I have to explain why I sometimes get tired. I’m a person who wears his heart on his sleeve, so I always prefer to tell people about my injury.

Headway have helped in so many ways by giving me advice during my recovery and by funding a holiday in Yorkshire. This meant we could get away as a family which made such a difference to us. That holiday turned out to be one of our best ever trips away because we were together. Headway also provided support for my wife and arranged for me to talk to a nurse when I had particular questions about my injury. Rachel took part in a peer mentoring scheme at Headway which meant after she had received the support she needed, she was able to help other people in her turn. This led her to do an Open University course and she is now training to be a neuropsychologist.

I am shortly to undergo another cranioplasty and I hope that it will not get infected this time. It will be great not to feel vulnerable anymore. The plate that they will insert is 3D printed and is of a much better quality than the one they used before so I am feeling confident. In the days and weeks and months ahead I hope to recover well from the operation, continue to be able to work without too much disruption and perhaps the biggest challenge of all, get my driving license back.

To celebrate Hats for Headway Day and to give something back to the charity that helped me so much, I am going to donate some bump caps to the charity so that they are available for anyone who needs them. My hat gave me much more confidence and I would like other people to benefit too."

Michael Duggan

The Hospital Brain Injury Co-ordinator became someone who absolutely understood how I felt, I didn’t need to explain. I could talk about my fears and worries. She was such a great support through the difficult days, but could also celebrate the small step successes, which was important to me.