Alan's story

Posted on: 10th November 2014

A message from Alan* in his own words

"I was with friends, doing a cycle challenge. New bike equipment was purchased, routes were planned and hotels were booked. We were close to finishing on the first day when the accident happened. I fell from my bike hitting my head and broke my humorous bone in my shoulder and I was airlifted from the scene and taken to hospital. I was given a Glasgow Coma Score of 4/15 and was induced into a coma after a seizure at the site and bleeding on the brain. I was in hospital for nearly 4 months. I would later get spurs (extra bones) in my shoulder restricting my movement. I don’t remember any of this; I have either been told or received a letter about it as I had post traumatic amnesia for 6-8 weeks.

Regular visits by family, friends and colleagues brought memories back to me (retrospective) which helped my recovery. After around 6 weeks I started 10 hours a week of physio then after discharge I did hydrotherapy for 6 weeks, occupational therapy every day in hospital with some tests towards the end, and speech and language therapy sessions even after discharge. All of this presented challenges to me as I was on a lot of tablets and injections and doing all of that after a traumatic brain injury, bleeding on brain, a coma, amnesia with a hole in my head and a broken shoulder was not easy! In some physiotherapy sessions I did nothing but scream - but it did help. Sessions with the speech and language therapist were enjoyable conversations and I learnt how not to speak like an over excited squeaky 5 year old apparently. I said “weird” to staff a lot when asked how I was feeling in hospital. I needed to be lifted by an electric chair into a bath for over a month. Even after that, putting belts on trousers or tying laces on shoes was impossible and I needed to be helped with most things. After a traumatic brain injury, help with talking or attention in conversations, movement, balance, physical activity or anything really will probably be needed, so if it is offered take it – it will help initially and long term.

Whatever your age or personality or the severity of the accident you are in and the level, speed or rate of your recovery, your needs will be different but if you accept that things will be different after your accident it is easier to adapt and make progress. When I was discharged, I was very keen to return home but I was asked by the NHS to stay with my retired parents; discharge was clearly a positive step for everyone connected but I didn't really understand the challenges I would face when I left hospital – I wish I had sooner. Things like walking on my own, crowds, cooking, keeping appointments or dealing with money, needing two people to help me use stairs, problems remembering pin numbers or passwords, initial help that led to me not making/taking any decisions, failing an eye test and needing glasses became massive problems! I have since learnt that a lot of people have similar problems at different levels; it is the accident having its impact, not you making mistakes so accept the changes and adapt – then it is just a change you are adapting to and you will, gradually.

I realise now that there were lots of times when I didn't really understand what was going on. No matter what your injuries stay positive, focused, motivated, determined, honest, adaptable and reflective and with help, support, time and patience you will make progress and get better.

You will probably be different to the person you were before but accept that this is due to the injury – all you have to do is understand, accept and adapt. Don’t be worried about asking questions or repeating points or getting clarification. Your recovery is just that… yours! Good luck!"

*The name of the client has been changed to Alan and a stock photo has been used in line with our client's wishes