Problems with memory are common after brain injury, and for dad-of-two David Macdonald, it was this hidden effect that would prove most challenging for him as he tried to return to his old life.
He said: “Memory loss is one of the most negative aspects of my brain injury. It’s affected not only me, but my friends and family too.”
It was October 2012 when David was involved in a motorcycle collision that would turn his life upside down. He has no memory of the accident or the days that followed.
David was left with a broken femur and damaged nerves in his knee, meaning his leg had to be amputated. But he said it was the hidden effects of his brain injury that had the biggest impact on him.
“My memory has always been an issue since my brain injury,” said David. “It has caused a lot of problems for me. It’s harder to socialise now and I have to rely on my friends and family to tell me what’s happened.
I find it more difficult to initiate conversation with friends regarding previous years fun or enjoyment we’ve had as many things are sadly not memorable to me anymore.
David also forgot that a close family member had recently passed away and that his mother had cancer.
He said: “When I first woke from the coma, I had forgotten a lot of important things. Luckily I had people around me who were supportive and helped by filling in the missing gaps of my memory, but it was still very frustrating being unable to remember huge, important details and events in your life.”
David’s memory loss has also affected him on a practical level.
He said: “I go food shopping almost every day, but I need to write down a shopping list beforehand and cross things off as I go. Before my brain injury, I would never have had to do this.”
“For the last few years I have attended meetings at my local Headway group and I find it very useful to be around people with similar issues,” said David.
“I’ve also found technology very helpful. I use my phone for everything now, especially the calendar. It helps to be able to write things down as I go and have something to look back at when my memory fails me.”
As for the future? David says his main goal is to keep on improving and concentrate on the positives in life.
“My advice to others is never to refuse help from other people as they only want to make life easier for you and one day, you will really appreciate it,” he said.
Don’t feel that almost everything is impossible for you to manage. A lot of things are still achievable, they might just be a bit more difficult than they used to be.
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