Hi, my names Gavin Bricklebank.
In June 2014 at the age of 28 I was suffering with headaches and a lot of pain from behind the eyes. After going through the self help of drinking plenty of water and resting up it soon became a lot more unbearable to cope with, I could not see and trying to function normally became extremely difficult.
I was taken to HRI and whilst waiting in the A&E I suffered what doctors believe to be a mild stroke, that was one of my last memories, for 2 weeks I was in and out of consciousness and I’m told by my family that I was in a bad way, the sad thing is that I have no recollection of this. I didn’t know who my partner of 10 years was.
On the 18th June I was moved to the stroke / neurology ward and went through a process of more testing. My family say I had numerous MRI’s and CT scans whilst being out of it, I was treated for encephalitis (an infection on the brain), I had an epilepsy test as it was believed I was having seizures and I was also told that I had meningitis (an infection in the brain). I was informed by the neurologist that I would have to stop driving for a period of time, and it would take time to make a full recovery.
All of this information went straight over my head, I thought only children got meningitis, after a lot of medication and rest at HRI I had one more test to complete which was on my eyes. The test showed my optic nerve in my left eye had suffered a bleed and also I still had significant swelling on my brain.
I had to stay in hospital and have a few more tests, in all I had around 7 MRI, 3 CT scans, 6 lumber punctures to name a few.
After 5/6 weeks in HRI I was able to return home and being what I believe to be the hardest part of my journey with a brain injury….. The recovery!! I say it was easy getting ill, the hardest part is trying to get back to how you were before.
A couple of things I found hard was memory, I lost a lot of trust in people, still to this day I’m very dubious of what people tell me. The hardest part was not being able to look after my daughter, I was always tired and I could not find the energy to match my little girl. I struggle with noisy and busy places, shops like Asda are extremely hard, I tend to now just wait in the car or go late at night.
If I could offer advice to people going through brain injury recovery it would be;
Be patient during recovery, it won’t happen overnight.
Try something new to learn or take up, I’m now a keen runner and I’m at my calmest when running.
And lastly would be don’t try to be the person you once were, try to be a better person