Amazingly proud

Featured article - 26 May 2017
By Will, NMCF member

I am so amazingly lucky to have these guys. They are astonishing and I love them both more than I could ever possibly explain. Well that was the best day of my rehab so far. I went up to Cardiff on the train, spoke at City Hall and didn’t have a single nap! It was like the ‘old me’ had returned! So I went up to Cardiff with my sister Holl and my Mum by train today which was by far the furthest I have managed since April. I got on and off fine, then into a taxi to City Hall.

So why Cardiff City Hall? Well we were the keynote speakers at a conference organised by the Welsh NHS and Baroness Finlay all about mental capacity. As I lost my mental capacity for four months after my accident they thought they would invite me to speak, along with my Mum (who ironically knows a lot more about it than me!) and my sister (who knows Baroness Finlay through work). The crowd was predominantly senior NHS staff so we wanted them to learn a ew lessons from my story. Here is the full text of what I said.

Will’s speech

Good afternoon. The last time I was in Cardiff I it was the England cricket team standing in front of a big audience not an injured teacher and his mum!

WHAT HAPPENED TO ME? I had a car crash in April and I received a number of conventional injuries but the main one was a severe brain injury. I’m not aware of the precise name of my injuries. At no point have I had a doctor sit me down and explain the even the nature of my injuries since I’ve had the capacity to understand! Unfortunately I was left a) unable to walk and B) unable to use my left arm at all C) without any memory at all since the crash, I couldn’t even make new memories! My Post – traumatic amnesia passed on ‘revelation Monday’ on 28th July where I finally had any understanding at all of anything that was going on around me, who I was and why I was there. I phoned my Dad when I woke up and told him this information and he was amazed! If I say anything about my treatment or condition before then it will be entirely made up. Until then all I could remember is that I was living a number of parallel existences that took in some of my memories from the previous year; I was a tennis coach in central America and I was also a WW1 soldier fighting in the trenches. According to my family and the hazy memory I have of this period I would argue strongly with them that I WAS a tennis coach in central America. This too all passed on Revelation Monday. My long term memory is basically still intact.

REHAB! This all happened when I was undergoing brilliant intensive rehab therapy at the Brain Injury Rehab Unit in Bristol (BIRU) under my consultant Angus Graham. At BIRU as I said my mental capacity came back and I was assessed in September under DULLES. More importantly BIRU also taught me to walk again and developed my memory further. Since my release in November I have been living at home which has been incredibly hard and has taken hours of therapy from excellent NHS therapists. It has been like a full time job for 5 months! Being here today makes me finally feel like I’m getting somewhere. I can now walk ok, make memories and use my left arm however fatigue is still a big issue. What are the main reasons I got here and lessons I have learned apart from being proof of nueroplasticity?

MULTI DISCIPLINARY EXCELLENT. I have received a multi disciplinary approach at both BIRU and at home. Seeing a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, SALT and psychologist has been excellent and made me recover across the board. I should mention the Early Release Team in Somerset directly because they have been superb in their treatment of me as an individual.

POWER OF FAMILY AND FRIENDS. We all take our family for granted sometimes. Like we all take our friends for granted. We just assume they will support us. My mum here in particular has been absolutely unbelievable, it has been incredibly hard for her all the way through. My dad and sister have also been amazing and my wider family too. IN my mind it is absolutely vital that friends and family are allowed to play as active a role in in treatment as possible. Even in hospital!

POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING AND HARD WORK. Although it has been astonishingly hard, I never gave up and stayed positive throughout and worked unimaginably hard and I will not let this whole thing beat me. I would say that is the most important thing about my recovery, that I have never let it get on top of me or got down as a result of my injuries. To anyone else in a similar situation I would say that they need to be told that the body is incredibly strong and that you CAN recover. Thanks for listening, don’t forget your homework and I’ll see you next week.

If ever you want to know my full story then there it basically is! What my Mum said she is not comfortable with me sharing but it was incredibly powerful and made me cry. Just imagine what she has been through. Its frankly astonishing that she was able to say it to a room full of strangers in Cardiff! My sister did very well taking all the questions that the lovely, welcoming crowd had. Without her we wouldn’t even have been invited so thanks sister!

Overall it all went swimmingly. I feel incredibly proud of all of us. It was a magical experience and hopefully what we said will lead to some changes! Getting the train successfully was also a huge achievement as was not having a nap all day!! I AM getting better. As I said in my speech I WILL TEACH AGAIN.

Thank you NHS, Baroness Finlay and everyone else that helped out with a wonderful day.

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