ACCEPT – ADJUST – MANAGE – LIVE YOUR LIFE – THE NEW ME

Living with a Traumatic Brain Injury


I am no different to anyone else, life is full of highs and lows, and no one said life was easy!

Born into a close-knit family in 1984, I am a twin with an older brother of only twenty and half months, we were quite the handful. Having said that we had a normal upbringing, outside of school we all went to Beavers, Cubs and Scouts and our interests stemmed from what we’d grown up around. Dad had been an amateur horseracing jockey and keen footballer, to which my passions still lie to this day.

Where did it all go wrong…..?

26th May 2005; fractured skull; brain surgery; can’t eat; shouldn’t drink – how life changed for me in the blink of an eye on my 21st birthday. I had suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, life turned upside down and I spent 162 days in hospital. Relearning the things we all take for granted, from learning to walk and talk again and becoming self-reliant, it was now a life-long commitment to the adaptation of a new ‘normal’. There had been a clear path of my care since the moment I was rushed into hospital on a stretcher on the 26th May 2005 to walking out the front doors on the 4th November 2005. After 5 long and exhausting months it fell at my door to pick the baton up and to keep progressing. The real understanding began of the reintroduction into the ‘real-world’.



You are never alone.



Initial planning at my bedside led to being immediately thrust into employment in the family business, Flus 4 u was born. Under the strict care and guidance of Dad I become an installer of chimney liners and solid-fuel stoves. Visually, (until I walked), no one was wise to my life challenges, outwardly elements of my recovery were well on the way to recovery. The overall picture wasn’t as clear though, my TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) had left a dramatic impression on me. Initially I woke up aggressive, but, after my brain surgery I was more patient than before my accident. Having been extremely luckily in maintaining my personality and memory, I did however lose my confidence. The biggest and most noticeable aspect to life after TBI. I relinquished my driving licence for 12 months, could no longer eat solids, I was deaf in my left ear, lost my sense of smell, my vision was blurry at times and my balance was never to be 100% again.

Surviving the rain, coming through a storm to enjoy the sunshine…

I believe, accepting my situation and adapting to it was crucial to my successful recovery. A new routine unfolded in my life after my TBI, I could no longer act and behave like many other twenty one year olds, I had to embrace the New Me and move forward the way I can.

Life is short, I haven’t let my TBI define me, it’s a reason not an excuse. Life goes on, I had a ‘comfortable’ period after learning to manage the effects of my accident, but then…Dad unexpectedly passed away without warning and I was left managing a successful family business without any prior experience.

The journey back from my traumatic brain injury continues to be fulfilling, little achievements mean more and I a new found appreciation of life, family and friends. Other than The New Me life hasn’t changed, the sun still gets up and world lives on the same.

I have highlighted the key elements that my TBI has affected. On paper they can be seen as common with those having not experienced the same life changing impacts as me.

I run a family business and I take its success personally, I see it as a reflection of me and my own capabilities. It comes with stress and heightened anxiety, this is relevant to all business owners and I’m not alone in this, however, post TBI it is something that I notice more and more. It is common knowledge that any head injury comes with the reality of tiredness. How true this is, I have to work on my every movement, my lack of medical swallow 24 hours a day, ultimately I get tired quicker than most others. I reduce its impact by going to bed earlier and removing myself from situations that would bring tiredness on. I’m more sensible, I’ve adapted my routine to limit its effect on daily life. A knock-on consequence of tiredness after my TBI is my concentration level. I can no longer focus significant attention for long periods of time, simple things like reading a book I don’t enjoy, watching TV is harder. Again, I have learnt to adapt to necessities, not allowing this to have a detrimental effect on the important things in life. I need sleep, it helps my balance, concentration and mood. Equally, the lack of sleep has an effect on my balance, ability to carry out the most mundane tasks and is undoubtedly the most debilitating aspect is I will end the day with a headache. My sleep patterns have never returned properly after my accident, I find it very hard to ‘switch off’ for a full, complete nights’ sleep. This is partly due to my accident as well as the person I am and always have been. I do my thinking at night, my mind doesn’t switch off, I go over the events of the day, where I can improve, what I can learn and what I have to think of and remember for tomorrow, next week and so on. Although frustrating, it is a key to how I maintain the element of success in both my personal and work life.

My TBI was unexpected, I learnt many lessons in the days, weeks, months and years after, until today where I believe in ‘that’ saying we’ve all heard, ‘you learn something new every day!’ I have proven that good can come from bad, life is for living and no doesn’t necessarily mean no. I wrote about my journey back from traumatic brain injury to share my experiences, to inspire those that think there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

GALLERY

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KEY EVENTS SINCE MY ACCIDENT

2005

Flus 4 U was founded.
I attended my belated Graduation ceremony

2006

Attended Cheltenham Festival
My driving licence was reinstated
Became a member of the gym (PDFitness)
Louise (cousin) gets married.

2007

My stomach PEG was changed
Attended Cheltenham Festival
Attended & passed Fire Safety Training Course
Loughborough reunion with uni friends.

2008

Attended Cheltenham Festival
Loughborough reunion with uni friends.

2009

My stomach PEG was changed
Went on Dave’s (friend) stag-do
Attended Cheltenham Festival
Friends Dave & Soph’s wedding day
Went on a holiday with friends to Fuerturaventura
Vikki (cousin) gets married.

2010

Attended Cheltenham Festival
Became an accredited Chimney Sweep (Institute of Chimney Sweeps (ICS))
I ran the Chippenham 5km River Run for charity
Organised Brother Sam’s stag-do
Best man at Sam’s wedding

2011

Moved out of the family home
My stomach PEG was changed
Attended Cheltenham Festival
Chippenham 5km River Run
Swindon 5km
Malmesbury 10km
Went on Fraz’s (friend) stag-do and wedding to Natalie
Spent a long weekend in Riga (Latvia) with friends
Owens’ (uni friend) stag and evening wedding invite
Castle Combe 10km.

2012

Dave (cousin) stag-do and wedding
Long weekend to Bratislava (Slovakia) with friends
Attended Cheltenham Festival
Chippenham 5km River Run
Swindon 5km x2
Corsham 5km (PB: 22:15mins)
Camilla’s (uni friend) wedding day
Lewis’ (uni friend) wedding day
Amelia (Niece) is born.
Went to the London Olympics (saw Usain Bolt in the 100m in the Olympic Park)
Went to the Football Final of the 2012 Olympics at Wembley

2013

Castle Combe 10km
Attended Cheltenham Festival
Chippenham 5km River Run
My stomach PEG was changed
Holiday with girlfriend to Cornwall
Long weekend in Berlin (Germany) with friends
Attended a HETAS course (governing body for Biomass and Solid-Fuel Domestic Heating) to become a fully approved Installation Engineer
Adam's (cousin) stag do and wedding
Amelia is Baptised and I became Godfather
Malmesbury 10km
Castle Combe 10km (PB: 46.06mins)

2014

Stuart (cousin) marries
Castle Combe 10km
Attended Cheltenham Festival
Berkeley 10km
Corsham 10km
Chippenham 5km River Run
Chippenham 5km Parkrun
Chippenham 10km
Malmesbury 10km
Castle Combe 10km
Holiday with girlfriend to London
Long weekend to Bucharest (Romania) with friends
George (Nephew) is born
Awarded Team Member of 2014 for PDFitness
Celebrated mine and Gary’s 30th Birthday with a day at the races!

2015

My stomach PEG was changed
Loughborough reunion with uni friends
Attended Cheltenham Festival
Chippenham 10km
Chippenham 5km River Run
Long weekend to Warsaw (Poland) with friends
Organised Gary’s (brother) stag-do and Best man at wedding to Amy
Holiday to Kefalonia (Greece) with girlfriend
George is Baptised
Matt (cousin) gets married
Malmesbury 10km.
Castle Combe 10k

2016

The Castle Combe 10km
The Cheltenham Festival in March
Corsham 10km
Chippenham 10km
A long weekend to Tallinn (Estonia) with friends
The Cheltenham Trail (10km)
The Dauntsey 10km
Holiday to the Costa del Sol (Spain) with girlfriend
The Sutton Benger Flyer – 5 mile.

2017

Bath Two Tunnels - February
Cheltenham Festival - March
Corsham 10KM - April
Westonbirt Arboretum - May
Dauntsey 10km - May
Chippenham Longes Day 10km - July
Cheltenham Challenge 10km - July
Westonbirt House - 10km - Auguest
Malmesbury Carnival 10km - August
Grittleton 10km - October
Castle Combe 10km - November
Lisbon (Portugal) for a long weekend with friends
Holiday to The Lake District with girlfriend

2018

Dad passed away and the family company is surly passed onto me in January.
Wiltshire 10 - February - a 10 mile run raising over £600.00 for Headway
Cheltenham Festival in March
Corsham 10km - April
Dauntsey 10km - May
27th May, engaged to my long-term girlfriend!
Chippenham Longest Day 10km - July
Malmesbury Carnival 10km - August
Grittleton 10km - October
Castle Combe 10km - November
Holiday to Lake Garda with girlfriend

2019

Cheltenham Festival in March
MARRIED – to Louise in April followed by our Honeymoon to New York and Barbados in May
Dauntsey 10km – May
Chippenham Longest Day 10km – July
Westonbirt House Summer 10km – August
Malmesbury Carnival 10km – August
Holiday to Cornwall – September
Grittleton 10km – October
Sutton Benger Flyer 5 – November
Castle Combe 10km – November
Westonbirt House Christmas 10km – December

WHAT MY READERS ARE SAY

“I have just finished 'The New Me' and felt I had to write a few words to you. I have to say it made a considerable impression on me and I have to congratulate you on the way you have told your story and the fact that you have survived the ordeal pretty much intact. For fear of using clichés, it brings to mind many which describe your experience; mind over matter; the love and strength of family; the comfort and support of friends; the resilience and strength of the human spirit; triumph over disaster and the randomness of events and how they shape our lives. I hope your book will be a great success. It deserves to be for it will serve well as an inspiration to others and make those of us who are fit and healthy have a greater appreciation of our lot.”

“Ended up a late night but whole book read in one sitting. Compelling. Emotional. Very proud of you Hugh.”

Matthew Everett

“You might set a book aside for a number of reasons such as boredom or a slow plot. I had to take a break from this compelling book several times to grab a tissue before returning to the bedside vigil and Hugh’s fight for life following a freak fall. This story of a family coping with a personal nightmare is told with a raw, simple dignity that pulls at your heart so that you find yourself holding your breath at each set back and cheering on each tiny success. Their thoughts and diary entries are neatly woven through Hugh’s memories and add up to a lot of love, dedication and wisdom. The second last sentence in the book pulled me up short and really made me think. That little nugget alone is worth the time you will spend in the company of a brave young man; brave for his determination to regain control of his life and brave to share his experiences so openly and honestly”

Deborah Saunders

“What an amazing story and what a truly amazing person your brother is. A fantastic story of the amazing power of a positive attitude, the love of family and the value of true friendship.”

Barbara Thurston