In November 2021, whilst working in Greece, Bryce Bell sustained a brain injury when he was forced to jump from a moving train travelling at over 50km per hour.
He said: “I drive engineering trains for a living and on this particular night we had a complete brake failure, leaving myself and a team of three to jump from the train before it crashed into another stationary train.”
Bryce was the last person left on board. Two of his team immediately jumped and escaped serious injury, but tragically, the third member to jump did not make it and later died in hospital.
“It seems it wasn't quite like the James Bond movies; when I eventually jumped, I collided with a concrete post and incurred hefty injuries, including four bleeds to the brain, a fractured skull, seven fractures on my spine, a cracked pelvis and a broken arm.”
Bryce was in a drug-induced coma for a week.
“Initially I had no idea of what had happened or where I was. The left side of my face wasn’t working, and I had no recollection of weeks prior. I felt very confused, angry, frustrated and extremely fatigued. Stringing sentences together was challenging and a lack of clarity over basic problems was frustrating.
“Ten months on and my struggles continue to be fatigue, short patience, a lack of ability to pay attention - leading to memory loss - and perhaps I’m more emotional. Ultimately, I feel less competent and valuable, but I am advised from my therapist that I’m extremely hard on myself.
“Before my ABI I had always been a very optimistic, motivated, and driven person. I was confident and really focussed on making myself and my family proud.
“I left school and joined straight up to the armed forces where I served for six and a half years. It taught me a lot about myself, and I developed some very useful tools for my mental toolbox which I continue to apply now throughout all areas of my life.
Despite Bryce’s significant injuries, he still feels “extremely lucky and fortunate to be speaking, walking and able.” Each day, Bryce assesses daily decisions under the lens of “does this benefit my chances of an optimal recovery.”
“My brain injury affects me socially and makes me find day to day business taxing. I find myself frustrated noticing some deficiencies with socialising, memory and understanding small elements of my day.
“My family and friends have been vitally important for my recovery. They inspire me to want to get the most out of these circumstances.
I was made aware of Headway briefly near the beginning of my recovery but didn’t realise the value of the resource until lately. I have found much comfort and help from the resources on the Headway website.
Bryce is still in recovery and is very hopeful that he will return to work. As a result of the experience, he would like to get actively involved with supporting and being a part of the brain injury community.
“I’m focussed on daily responsibilities to ensure I give myself the best chance - reading, cognitive training, walks, eight hours sleep, exposing myself to social environments etc. Despite my huge frustrations, good days, and bad days, I believe it’s important to just keep going and doing the daily reps.
“My advice would be to not be harsh on yourself and be patient. Find power in the fact that your small daily decisions and habits can really compound into contributing towards the trajectory of recovery.
“Find strength and energy in personal responsibility for what you can (this will vary), and know that just because life is different, different doesn’t always mean bad and can in fact often be a fantastic opportunity for better.
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