Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'I've Been Given a Second Chance and I Must Make the Most of It'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'I've Been Given a Second Chance and I Must Make the Most of It'

Article excerpt

HAVINGEXPERIENCING a brain aneurysm was very surreal and scary. For four days I'd had a blinding headache and it was getting worse.

Then I remember I was home alone watching England play Ireland in the rugby Six Nations on television when the players started falling off the screen. It was just bizarre but I realised I was in real trouble.

I called the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, told them I was feeling unwell and asked if they could stick me in a side room when I arrived, because I knew I didn't feel up to posing for selfies with the other patients. Then I called a cab.

I don't really remember the journey, I just recall the driver talking about Newcastle United. Everything became really heightened, his voice seemed so loud, then I became really photosensitive, the light was painful to look at.

When I got to hospital all hell broke loose. The doctors did a lumbar puncture and found blood in my spinal fluid. At that point they grew really worried - I had to sign a load of forms to say I understood I may make it, or I may not.

It was scary for me, but I think it was even more difficult for my kids and wife Jane at my bedside.

I was rushed into surgery and I had an occlusion, which is an operation to stop the blood flowing through the ruptured blood vessel to direct it elsewhere.

After that I was in intensive therapy for four days. I had all sorts of pipes and wires coming out of me, hooked to machines.

I was confused and had a really surreal moment where I saw a giant cheesy Wotsit at the end of the bed.

I tried to reach for it and my IV tube came out. There was blood everywhere.

One of the nurses came in and said: "For God's sake, what's happening?" I replied: "I was just trying to get that Wotsit" and she said: "Oh God, he's off". That was funny, even at such a dark and scary time.

But I was very lucky. The consultant surgeon who did my operation told me that I'd suffered a massive trauma. He said I'd lost 20% of myself and not to do much. He said I'd basically got away with it.

And my God, have I got away with it.

There have been a couple of shifts in my personality, but you would have to know me really well to spot them, and I feel more vulnerable now. But my motor skills are OK and my speech is fine.

Four weeks after my aneurysm I even jumped back on my motorbike. I shouldn't have been doing anything like that, but I wanted to make sure I could still do it.

In 2012 I'd lost 3.5 stone on a diet and I put 2.5 stone back on after the aneurysm, but I didn't hide away. I wasn't ashamed because you can only fight one battle at a time and the most important battle for me was to get well again.

I couldn't do much for eight months because my motor skills were all over the place and the levels of fatigue that come with a brain injury are unbelievable. …

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