As part of Headway's ABI Week 2023 Every 90 Seconds campaign, Simon and Marc share their experiences of how life changed after Simon had a stroke abroad. Now Headway is helping them find a way forward and rediscover life after brain injury.
Before Simon's brain injury, the couple was focusing on their successful travel business and beginning to make retirement plans.
"Life was good, and things looked rosy, and then 'wham'- this happened," said Simon.
I can't really remember much for the first seven or eight months; it was pretty dreadful.
Marc recalled, "He was paralysed for two days; he wasn't able to communicate."
Following his stroke, Simon was left with aphasia, which can cause people a wide range of difficulties, such as challenges when speaking, reading, or writing.
"It is very difficult for people to understand. It affects people in totally different ways,” said Simon.
“Brain injury can happen to anyone, and it does, and it happens in different ways and has different effects with different severity. I think everybody is vulnerable to it, and that's the thing to remember - that you can always be affected by it. Sometimes, the things you've got to grasp and get a hold of are quite dark, and the best way to overcome that is a certain lightness of approach."
Simon's difficulties have improved following intensive speech therapy, and with support, he has re-learnt how to do everyday tasks like making a cup of coffee. He has also received vital support from Headway Devon, where he enjoys taking part in art sessions.
"It's like joining a family," said Simon. "It brings you together with a group of people who you didn't have an awful lot in common with beforehand. You've all got a similar goal, and it works well. And sometimes you produce beautiful art, sometimes you produce less beautiful art, but it doesn't really matter."
"There are members of the group that I've been able to talk to as well," said Marc. "If something's worrying me about Simon.
"I've felt that Headway has really brought Simon back to life. The most meaningful thing that's happened since Simon's stroke is the art therapy – unequivocally.
Headway got Simon out of bed, metaphorically speaking, and got him away from the couch. Knowing that Simon's had somewhere to go to, that's supportive in itself.
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