Bryony Wilshaw has written the below blog piece in the memory of her uncle Steven.
I became aware of brain injury quite early on in life. In 1999, when I was six, my uncle Steven suffered a severe brain injury after a terrible accident whilst on holiday in Greece. He had fallen twenty feet off his apartment balcony and hit his head on hard concrete.
After weeks in a coma in a Greek hospital, he was flown via air ambulance back to the UK. We were told the chances of his survival were slim, being so young, my parents thought it best I didn't see him in his vegetated state. I remember a lot of tears and worry but somehow he pulled through and woke from his coma.
In total he spent over six months in hospital, learning how to walk and talk again. After his injury, he was told he would never drive or work again. He developed epilepsy and fitted frequently. Depression and anxiety now loomed over him like a big black dog. Life had changed and remembering things became a daily struggle.
Despite his brain trauma my uncle did manage to function daily, he went to the shops, cooked himself healthy meals and visited friends at the pub, but his short-term memory loss meant he was constantly losing bank cards and house keys and this frustrated him greatly.
Unbeknown to most of those close to him, my uncle was suffering greatly with his mental health. His entire life has changed due to his accident, his world had slipped from underneath him and he found himself in this new, strange and probably quite a lonely world.
The thing about brain injury is, it doesn’t quite heal with time like a broken leg or even a broken heart. A person who has suffered from a severe brain injury will most likely never recover, and unfortunately for my uncle, he never really did.
In the summer of 2019, I received a shocking and life-altering phone call, telling me that my loving and wonderful uncle had suddenly passed away. Although his death can’t be one hundred percent tied to his ABI, we received a coroner's report recently that explained a number of things that could have contributed to his death, all from his medication down to his accident.
I want to end this blog post by saying that despite my uncle's troubled life, post his accident, he was always the one cracking the jokes, always the one singing on the karaoke, the one listening to friends problems and the one getting teary telling me how much he loved his family.
His ABI may have changed his life, but it never stopped his ability to show love and care for those around him who needed it. I’m sure I say this with the support of all those who knew him, you are so greatly missed.
Despite his ongoing war in his head he managed to make people smile every day. Thank you Uncle, thank you for the memories.