When engaged couple Daniel Mole and Meg Parsons found out they could not have children naturally, it was devastating news, starting a family was all they ever wanted.
Determined to try every option they began the long wait for fertility treatment and wedding plans were put on hold.
After 11 agonising months they received notification that their treatment would finally start on 23 January but hours before the appointment, they had to cancel it, Daniel was fighting for his life.
He had collapsed at home following a ruptured aneurysm and was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery but following complications he suffered a stroke and was left in a coma.
When he awoke, he was unable to walk, talk, or care for himself. His right side was paralysed and he also had significant cognitive and memory issues.
“I struggled to remember my loved ones when I awoke from the coma - it really was hit and miss,” recalled Daniel.
“Meg used to show me pictures of family and friends. She said that I used to look at some people that would visit like they were strangers when they would go to hug me. When I was able to talk I couldn't remember most of the previous two years. I also didn't remember that I lived with Meg, I thought I still lived with my mum and dad.”
After excellent progress, Daniel was able to return home in May but adjusting to his new life was very hard on him and his partner.
He said: “When I was allowed home, I found everything difficult. I struggled a lot with my mobility and needed help to do very simple things.
“I couldn’t cook because I was unable to multitask and if I tried I would forget and leave the oven on.
“I would regularly forget to take my tablets too.
“It was very tough on both of us. Meg was unable to go back to work as she had to care for me full-time and it placed a lot of pressure on our relationship. Suddenly, she wasn’t just my fiancé but my carer too.”
Throughout Daniel’s recovery he has received support from Headway.
He said: “They have always been there if we needed some advice or help. We called the helpline to get advice and prepare for what issues we might encounter as my recovery progressed.
"We also found its booklets very useful.”
After making excellent progress, and with intensive support and four months on a rehab programme, Daniel, 28, has now been able to begin his return to work with GB Railfreight (GBRf).
Before the injury he worked as Yard Shift Leader. The role meant that he had to work 12 hour shifts on a roster which consisted of swapping between days and nights.
He said: “My previous role was very mentally tiring and it required a lot of thinking. I had a lot of responsibility and had to be very organised.
“I couldn’t go back to that full-time straight away but GBRf has been so supportive in putting things in place to help me, such as working closely alongside my rehab team in order to support me in a phased return to work, allowing me to start back on reduced hours and meetings to review my progress.
"They also allowed me to shadow someone until I get my confidence back up. Their remarkable support throughout has been what has allowed me to get my life back to some form of normality.
"I'm so thankful."
Daniel’s colleagues were so affected by what happened to him that they nominated Headway to be its charity of the year.
Daniel said: “I was over the moon when I heard they had picked Headway because it has provided me and my partner with so much advice and support.
“It is also great because it is helping to raise awareness of the effects of brain injury and that is really important to me.
So many people are not aware about brain injury so I’m extremely happy the company has decided to support Headway
Now Daniel and Meg are looking forward to the next phase of the lives and are positive about the future.
Daniel said: “It was only six months ago that I couldn’t do anything for myself, was unable to work, drive or have any kind of social life.
“I have learnt so much, for instance even on the darkest days where you feel like your life has all been ripped away and turned upside down, just keep pushing and pushing yourself because anything is possible with a positive attitude and a good support network of family and friends.
“You can’t give up because just when you are about to is when you make the next step in your recovery. You have to push yourself out of your comfort zone, continue to socialise and do things you used to and aim to be not the person you used to but an even better version of yourself. Having a Brain injury has taught me how valuable life is!”
Recently life has been very complicated for Daniel and Meg and it isn’t going to get any less hectic any time soon.
“After trying for two years we fell pregnant naturally in September. Like they say everything happens for a reason!
“Our baby is due in May and I hope to be the best dad I can be. I want to continue enjoying life and not letting the brain injury define who I am.
“I'm really looking forward to family days together and also holidays now I have been given the all clear to fly – with help I’m moving on from the darkest days of my life.
I’m so grateful for what I have now.
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