The Path of Positive Progress after TBI

Paul Spence, 35, from Hull, sustained a haemorrhage to the frontal lobe of his brain in 2012. Here he shares the experience of his recovery and some advice to others on the same path.

My brain injury blew my life to pieces. It inflicted devastating consequences that changed everything. After all, it had damaged my brain. The way I would think would change forever. I had lost part of my identity that I could never get back. Initially I was lost, confused and vulnerable. I didn’t have a clue about everyday life. I could function but my understanding was limited. There was no real depth of intellect. The lights were on but there was certainly no one home! The injury had caused a ripple effect. I was at the centre and it went out affecting everything and everybody in my life. I was told I had a 2/3 year recovery and at the end I wouldn’t be the same. Although I didn’t understand the severity of my injury due to my brain damage, I did know that I wouldn’t let this injury beat me! No way! I marched on taking the long path back to some sort of normality. I didn’t know where that was; when I would get there or how I would be. I just took each day as it came, never letting my injury hold me back. I found a positive focus whilst on the long path of recovery. Health and fitness was my choice. It was my escape. I thrived on it! Throughout my recovery, I was often frightened, vulnerable and out of my depth but I wouldn’t stop. I knew that if I did, the rot would set in and I wouldn’t let that happen. No matter what! The path was relentlessly tough. There were deep struggles on the inside and out. My relationship failed; I lost my job and I lost my social life. I couldn’t drive; I struggled cognitively and I fell into depression. Each day brought new torments and challenges. Brain recovery is a long, drawn out battle which could take you under any day.
Despite these challenges, I never lost focus; I did my best; played to my strengths and was still able to achieve after brain injury. It’s now three years later and I have featured in Men’s Health magazine; raised £40,000 through charitable events. I am proud to say I have become an ambassador for two high profile and well respected companies. They are Hudgell solicitors and also PhD nutrition. I have developed and launched a website – and I am currently registering a charity to help people in the community with brain injuries; Paul For Brain Recovery. Although the path was often dark and lonely, I always believed I would get to a good place. I had to wait for long spells for improvement. It’s a slow process. Once I was moving I fell many a time but I got back up and continued moving forward. I wouldn’t give in. That determination and resilience was shaping my future and the path in front of me. All the while I was struggling, I was gaining strength. The more I accepted my new self, the more I achieved. My loneliness made me wiser. My focus made me healthier/fitter and the challenges gave me experiences creating amazing new memories. Things got better as I adapted and life got easier during recovery. There was plenty of positive progress along the recovery path. I lost so much due to my injury but with a strong spirit and amazing support I have got to a good place. I am enjoying life again. I am slower but stonger. Different but no less. I am looking forward to a bright future. It’s amazing to finish with that sentence because I feared the worst for my future at times during recovery. If you’re in that place then here’s my best points to help you along the path –
• Go easy on yourself. Making sense of a new brain will take time.
• Be patient. This recovery is going to take time! There is no quick fix with brain recovery.
• Communication is key! Tell people your pain. If they can’t see it, they can’t hear it then they can’t help you.
• Get as much support as you can. As and when you need it. Therapy/counselling whatever you need. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
• Rest easy. Give your brain the best chance of repair.
• Good food for a good performance.
• Have a positive focus that’s right for you.
• Employ coping strategies to help with your weaknesses.
• Accept the new you, learn to love yourself again.
• Always be happy with what you have got, how you are. Enjoy what you can along the path.
• Be kind to yourself, you are fighting a battle only the strongest could survive.
I send you a message that you are not alone. Don’t give up – You can do this. Things do get easier! Please visit my site to read more about my journey and the path of Positive Progress – I send you my very best wishes – Paul
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