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.

 
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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 – paulmybrainrecovery.co.uk 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 –
Paulmybrainrecovery.co.uk I send you my very best wishes – Paul
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