As part of Headway's ABI Week 2023 Every 90 Seconds campaign, couple Nigel and Paula share their experiences of how life changed instantly after Nigel had two strokes – the first as he was waiting for a bus - and how Headway is helping them to rebuild their lives.
"My life before brain injury was pretty lively. I was a photographer and filmmaker. I used to work in London and commute weekly to Exeter. I suppose it was always, 'Get out there and get it,’ said Nigel.
He and his wife Paula were busy setting up a photography business together. However, their life changed one fateful day as Nigel was on his way to the cinema.
"I was standing at a bus stop," Nigel recalled.
Beyond that, I have no idea because I woke up in hospital. Absolutely everything changed – instantly.
Nigel had suffered a stroke and, after his discharge from hospital, was left with many challenges, including memory loss, fatigue and difficulty with his balance. Unfortunately, he also suffered a second stroke in 2022, shortly followed by a heart attack.
"I went to hospital, he was in intensive care, he was unconscious," said Paula. "They didn't know what was wrong with him, and after about seven or eight days, they sent him home, and I had a broken husband who didn't work, and he didn't know how to shower due to memory loss.
"He spoke very quietly in a very little voice. He couldn't read, he couldn't use his mobile phone. And when I got him home, I tried to get him to line the Scrabble letters up in order because I couldn't believe he couldn't read.”
"Absolutely everything changed instantly; it's like running into a brick wall," said Nigel. "Inside here, I'm still me. It might be a slightly different me, but I'm still me. I ask that you accept me, take me for what I am.
"Headway has been extraordinarily helpful. There is so much of life that once you have a stroke, you suddenly lose, and it's like becoming disconnected from life. And coming to Headway, I've become connected to all these people, and I've become connected to Headway - and it's belonging again.
We're only ever here once, and you have to live life absolutely to the full whilst you can.
Headway's Every 90 Seconds campaign focuses on a powerful statistic: every 90 seconds, someone in the UK is admitted to hospital with a brain injury. It only takes a few seconds for a life to be completely knocked off course. Take a second to get involved.
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