"I sustained my brain injury a year ago when I was 42. I was a Factory Manager and was successful in the role. I had worked my way from the bottom to the top of the organisation. I have two daughters from my first marriage and another daughter with my current partner.
A friend asked me to have a look at his car which had a problem and since I know a bit about cars I agreed to try and help him out. When I got there I wasn’t able to fix it so we decided to push the car to the garage. At some point during the exertion of shifting the car, I remember seeing rainbows and feeling very tired and then I collapsed.
I woke up almost four months later in hospital. I felt the top of my head which was stapled following surgery, but I didn’t at that stage know what had happened. I had had a brain aneurism that had led to a massive stroke. My doctor told me it would have happened at some point in my life regardless of what I did or didn’t do since I have very thin blood vessels on one side of my brain.
My memory after the stroke was poor and I couldn’t walk. I was in hospital for a total of 8 months but it wasn’t until I got home that I was finally able to understand the full implications. It took me a little time to accept what had happened to me. I was very insecure at first and I begged my partner not to leave me. I’ll never forget how supportive she was. She said ‘It’s only arms and legs’.
My neurologist said that I would never be able to walk again and nor would I be able to work. My goal this year was to prove the first part of that statement wrong. I am now back on my feet. There is nothing I can’t do for myself except drying my back after a shower and putting my socks on!
Headway Cambridgeshire and in particular Sharon Calver who works at the Peterborough hub, provided an incredible amount of support. Sharon is a 42 Carat diamond. She helped me to fill out the necessary paper work which I was really struggling with and told me how to deal with a landlord that was trying to make me homeless. She has been there for me whenever I’ve needed anything. I also participated in the gardening project there and I have had support to ease myself back into the world of work by volunteering. Over the last couple of months I have worked at the British heart Foundation and for Sue Ryder. I visited my old workplace the other day, and although someone else is now doing my former role, they were very positive about the possibility of me returning in some capacity before too much longer.
My advice to other people who are experiencing similar things is to accept what has happened as quickly as possible. I don’t regret anything about my past. I lived life to the full, but since my brain injury I appreciate things such as my family so much more. My mother says I am a better and kinder person since my stroke. I would tell people not to mourn the past but to be patient, adapt and move forward.
This Christmas I asked my partner what she wanted as a present. She said she had already received her gift which was to see me walking again. Next year my goals are to get back to work and to marry her. I think I will manage both aims and prove my neurologist wrong once more."