When Chris Bryant phoned his partner to complain he was lost, she became very worried.
He had only gone for a quick spin on his motorbike around Rutland Water Reservoir, an area he knew well.
“A short while after leaving, I phoned Max up complaining of a headache. She said that I could be dehydrated, as it was a hot day,” recalled Chris.
“But the conversation quickly began to concern her as I became more disorientated and confused, telling her I didn’t know where I was when I should have.
“I then began muddling up my words and stopped making any sense.”
Chris, 31, was suffering from a bleed in the brain caused by arteriovenous malformation (AVM).
AVM is a specific term used to describe a tangle of blood vessels with abnormal connections between arteries and veins, the bleed occurs when they eventually they burst due to the high pressure of blood flow.
Even though she didn’t have a real idea of where he was, Max went out to look. Her fears were realised when she eventually found him at the side of road but by then he had already slipped out of consciousness.
Thankfully some employees of Rutland Water were with him and had already called for an ambulance.
Chris was immediately taken to a specialist neurological critical care unit and sedated.
He said: “This was a very harrowing time for Max and my family, as no one was sure of what state I would wake up in, if I woke up at all.
“I have so few memories of the early days of my recovery. I was in a very dreamlike state. My family described me as being like an alien during this time, vacant, and disconnected from everything.”
Chris was in hospital for around four months, during which time he had an External Ventricular Drain fitted to manage the blood around his brain.
When he was well enough he was sent to a neurological rehabilitation center in Oxford, then when space became available, he was transferred to Lincoln to finish his recovery closer to home.
Chris had to relearn to do some of the most basic things, including how to walk and talk.
He said a stand out moment of his recovery came when he managed to speak to his mother for the first time since his brain injury.
He said: “I found it very frustrating not to be able to talk. At times I got very angry with the hospital staff because I couldn’t communicate with them.
“I had to rely on hand signals at first. One day, Max and the speech and language therapist Hannah spent the whole morning with me doing breathing exercises to beckon a voice out.
“When my mum came in to visit me that day, I managed to say ‘Hi Mum’.
“Hearing my voice for the first time in so many months caused her to get very emotional; it was a huge achievement at the time and it’s now a very special memory.”
After a lot of intense rehabilitation and hard work, Chris was eventually able to go home.
He said it was then that the impact of his brain injury on his relationship with Max began to hit home.
He said: “When my lasting injuries became more obvious it was a very frightening time for her.
“It was hard for her to accept that the future we had planned would be different and I was no longer a ‘partner’ or someone she could rely on.
“She was dealing with the emotional impact of what had happened to me, as well as trying to process what the future might hold and being a pillar of strength for me at the same time.
“It was hard for Max to take the role of career and I found it hard being the one cared for.
“Now though, I can say our relationship is better than ever. We enjoy spending time with each other and do more as a couple than we ever did prior to my injury. We have gone through a process of getting to know one another all over again.
“Without Max I would have never got through my brain injury, she never stopped pushing me, and without that love and support, I couldn’t have become the new man that I am today.”
Chris said his family were also a great support in helping him piece his life back together.
He said: “My memory has been one of the most frustrating changes and it’s still a battle. To help, my mum put together a photo album with names and details of those inside it so I could recognise people. Small things like that really helped and my family continues to support me now. We were a close family before my injury but now we are closer than ever, I would not be where I am now without them.”
Chris said he's excited about what the future might hold for him, especially since he recently started working at a college.
He said: “Before the brain injury I worked at a graphics company as a brand guardian but it’s always been a dream of mine to become a graphic design teacher and it now feels like the right time to try and make it happen.
“If feels great to be in front of a class and share all that I have learnt to the next generation of creative people.”