McFly drummer’s wife speaks about her brother’s brain injury

Izzy, wife of McFly drummer Harry Judd, has shared her experience of brain injury within her family.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Izzy believes her struggle to conceive was partly down to anxiety that started around the age of 13 when her brother Rupert suffered a brain injury. Explaining what happened on the night of his accident, Izzy said: “Rupert had been out with friends and was home by about 10pm but he then decided to drive to Wells, his old school in Somerset – two and a half hours away. One of our cousins, whom Rupert was close to, was in the sixth form there. It was just the crazy kind of thing that Rupert liked to do. “He saw my cousin for an hour or so and then said he was heading back home to Harpenden in Hertfordshire. He refused to stay and get some sleep because he said he had a horn lesson at the Guildhall later that day. Many days later, we learned that Rupert’s music teacher had left a message to say that the lesson was cancelled. But Rupert’s phone was out of battery and he never received it.  “From what we know, Rupert left Wells at about 3am and arrived at the junction joining the M25 and the M1 at about 5am. He was only about ten minutes from home. He so nearly made it. “He drove into the back of an articulated lorry. We think he probably fell asleep at the wheel but we’ll never know. He was dead at the scene but was brought back to life by a defibrillator.”  Izzy explained that initially the doctors couldn’t tell the family much about the extent of Rupert’s brain injuries. She continued: “The hope was that the areas of his brain that hadn’t been injured would gradually learn to take over the functions of those that had and he would relearn the skills he’d lost. “At first he wasn’t able to communicate. The only sign of life or memory came through his reaction to the classical music we played him. One day we gave him his French horn to hold. He couldn’t play it, of course, but he started to move his fingers in time to the music. In the months that followed progress became evident. He slowly started to walk, talk and feed himself again. “Today, 20 years later, we know Rupert won’t make any further recovery. He is an exaggerated version of the person he was before the accident. You never forget meeting him! He’s friendly, immensely loving and giving but he can often be inappropriate because he has no awareness of personal space.  “He has so much to offer but we still grieve for what we’ve lost. His music career, which was so promising, tragically never materialised. He requires 24-hour care and will never be able to lead an independent life.” Explaining the effect that the accident had on the family Izzy said: “Rupert’s accident brought us all a huge sadness which has never gone away. The sense that I never got to know my brother as I should have done has stayed with me. The theft of his life as it could have been has always been very hard.”  Izzy also spoke about the effect on her as a teenager: “When a tragic event happens in your family, you develop a sudden understanding of the stark realities of life and death: the implications, the danger, the possibilities of awful things happening. When I look back, it seems to me that I skipped a significant part of normal teenage development. I became an adult very suddenly, but with no emotional maturity. “Throughout my teenage years, whenever I had a struggle or a concern, I never felt it was ‘big’ enough to allow myself to express it, because it felt so much smaller than what had happened to Rupert. So I kept all my worries to myself. “I began to find that I couldn’t switch off. I couldn’t let myself relax because I felt I wouldn’t be in control and something bad might happen. I had a fear that if I fell asleep I wouldn’t wake up, that if I stopped minding myself and let go, I would disappear.” One way Izzy dealt with her anxiety was by seeing a cognitive behavioural therapist and following exercises based around the idea of growing comfortable with the sensations anxiety produced in her. Izzy was open about her anxiety to Harry, and in terms of Rupert, Izzy introduced her brother and boyfriend to each other early on in the relationship. Izzy said: “From that day [when they met] Rupert and Harry became great friends. Rupert adores him. At family events Harry will spend time with Rupert, who can be exhausting company because he’s always asking, ‘What next? What now?’. Harry isn’t at all fazed by that.” Izzy met Harry Judd in 2005 when she was a musician in the backing orchestra on McFly’s tour. The above edited extracts are from Izzy’s book Dare to Dream: My Struggle to Become a Mum – a Story of Heartache and Hope.
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