“You would never think about taking your laptop about without putting it in a case. Why would you not do the same for your own brain – the most precious computer you will ever own and for which there are no spare parts?”
This is a quote that Ben Wilson, one of our clients at Headway Essex, feels very strongly about following his accident. Here, he tells us his story and how it has affected his life.
My name is Ben and I am 23 years old. I was just 20 years old when I had an accident that changed my life forever.
On the morning of the 22nd August 2017, I was driving to Stansted airport to meet some friends to go on a free running holiday (which was one of my many hobbies at the time). I was driving too fast and at 5:12am my car hit a tree and I was found 52 minutes later by a passer-by named Dave Baker. I’ve met him since and he is a great guy.
I was away from home for 144 days in total during my recovery. At first I was taken to Broomfield hospital, from there I was transferred to Addenbrookes where I stayed for 60 days. Finally I spent 12 weeks at Fen House (a neuro-rehabilitation centre) before heading home.
My Physical Injuries
The consultants told me I’d never walk or talk again. My crash caused me to break 2 parts of my skull and shatter my left eye socket which has given me double vision when I look right and down. It gets very frustrating however it’s slowly getting better. I also broke my lower spine in 3 places (L2, L3 and L5), I broke my right leg and I broke my right arm which they didn’t find out until 6 weeks later as the full body scan missed it due to the larger bone covering the broken smaller bone underneath.
The Hidden Injuries
Hidden injuries remain long after the physical wounds heal. Due to stopping so fast I got a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The effects of my Brain Injury, a year after my accident, are that my personality has changed. My family and friends have had to adjust to this, as have I. I also find it hard to feel emotion now; however, I don’t get nervous anymore like I did before my accident.
Fatigue, not tiredness, but real fatigue is a problem, as my brain has to use other pathways to get a job done, so its energy drains quickly. I also struggle with my short-term memory, which is annoying but I now use my phone to remind me of everything. I also lost my sense of smell which I miss because you don’t realise how much you use smell every day. At least I can still taste food! These may sound like silly little things but all together, they make me a very different person and I have a very different life from where a 23 year old normally is in life.
How My Life Has Changed
I am more dependent on my family than I was before my brain injury. When I first got back home, I was very reliant on people for help and reminders which they wrote onto a weekly timetable. I’m not yet able to return to work and I lost my driving licence because of my brain injury. I’ve noticed that people who were friends are now acquaintances and just people I know. I only now have one real friend so that is a big change as I feel isolated and alone unless I’m at Headway Essex.
How Headway Essex Helped Me
Headway Essex have helped me with understanding my personality and attitude towards other people.
A group of us who met through Headway meet socially and we all talk and get along well, it’s a great group! We understand the issues we face on a daily basis and all learn from each other, which is extremely helpful.
Headway Essex has helped me with memory aids and now I am no longer dependent on my family to remind me of things. I use my smart phone calendar and reminder alerts, notes for shopping and other little lists. I have learnt to put things in obvious places so I see & find them, otherwise I’d lose things and remembering where you last saw it is difficult if you don’t remember recent things clearly.
Set a Positive Goal and Aim for It
Headway Essex understand my goals and help me achieve those successfully using interim goals and actions. I live at home with my parents and I can’t buy my own house, as I’m not earning any money….yet. Therefore, my ultimate goal is to get my driving licence back and return to work. Set a positive goal and aim for it!