A-Z

Daniel

Age at interview: 21
Brief Outline: Daniel sustained a traumatic brain injury just over a year ago. It was the result of a car accident in which no other vehicles were involved. He spent six weeks in intensive care and then had three months of rehabilitation to help him walk and talk again. He has had some seizures since his injury. He still has outpatient therapy.
Background: Daniel has a long-term girlfriend and, since his injury, lives at home with his parents and younger brother. He works in retail, but has not returned to his job since his injury.

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Just over a year before he was interviewed, Daniel was involved in a car accident. He was driving home after a party and hit a tree. The Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) crew treated him at the scene before he was rushed by ambulance to hospital for an immediate operation. He spent about three weeks in a coma.
 
Daniel realised he was starting to “become aware” when he began to feel people touching him. He wasn’t able to speak and describes spending several weeks just resting in the bed. He was transferred from hospital to a rehabilitation unit. 
 
He had physiotherapy to help him walk; speech and language therapy to help him tone the muscles in his face and learn to talk again; occupational therapy to learn how to regain his independence; and clinical psychology to assess his memory and ability to think. He praised the staff for their help, but said he felt he had to push himself more than they expected him to in order to recover' “I couldn’t fault anyone because they were doing everything they could, but to me, I had to do more”. The first time he walked unaided he “couldn’t believe it”. 
 
Daniel had to have a titanium plate fitted in his skull. Since this operation, he has begun to have seizures. Because he had survived such a serious accident Daniel felt invincible, but he finds his seizures very distressing. He is able to tell when he is going to have one, so is able to get into a safe position. Attending support group meetings organised by Headway has reassured him, helped him to deal with his anxiety and worry less about seizures. Now he tries to “think positive rather than negative… If I have a seizure, I have a seizure, but I’ve just got to think of right now, not the future and past seizures”. 
 
Daniel receives Disability Living Allowance (DLA) which he thinks was organised for him by the staff at the rehabilitation unit. He will return to job in retail when he is ready and his occupational therapist is working with his employer to help them understand his needs. Daniel’s girlfriend, family and friends spend a lot of time with him and have looked after him throughout his recovery. He says “it was very good to know they were there”. 

 

 

Talking to people at Headway, a brain injury charity, gave Daniel reassurance and helped him to...

Talking to people at Headway, a brain injury charity, gave Daniel reassurance and helped him to...

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Why are you happier now then a few weeks ago?
 
Mainly with, what are they called? Headway, like I’ve got more, I would say kind of reassurance and stuff like that. I’m more like talking with people and to people. Basically how, kind of what I’m doing right now, just talking, talking, but in a way it’s a good thing because I know. I feel, as I said before, happier now that I can talk to people or people can talk to me about it. And I feel more relaxed, if that makes sense, yeah, more relaxed than a few weeks ago, where I had no one to talk to and no one to listen to or everyone was just I don’t know how they could tell me what’s going to happen and stuff like that – didn’t have a clue.
 
So what makes Headway so good?
 
They just reassure me. Like basically when I come and visit them, all the time I just, I just feel more again happier. Like, I can get through it and if I do I know people to talk to and for them to talk to me or either, both of them even.
 
Do you think you’re going to have another seizure?
 
Oh I used to think that all the, every day, every minute, like before I started getting hold of people and like again Headway I just like, oh no, when’s the next one? But now with them reassuring me and stuff like, I could have them forever, or they could stop now. Do you know what I mean? But now I’m just thinking present. So not thinking tomorrow, am I going to have a seizure it’s thinking now. Like, if I have one I have one, and if I don’t, I don’t. And we just go on every day without thinking about it, which was the biggest problem that I had to deal with basically other than walking and talking but that’s gone now. Now it’s something else. But yeah. Hopefully it’s, just hope but not in a what’s it called? Not in a way that I’d just be so anxious, which I used to be. Like not, like in the sense about a month ago, two months ago I was so anxious, and now I’m starting to deal with it.

 

 

The speech and language therapist gave Daniel exercises to strengthen his muscles, and learn to...

The speech and language therapist gave Daniel exercises to strengthen his muscles, and learn to...

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And then what about the speech and language therapy? Talk me through what happened with it?
 
Well, as I said like, I couldn’t, I was just trying to speak, but it was all like air. There was no like, as I am now, I can speak it now. But when I couldn’t, it was just all like air. I couldn’t like grasp at anything. I couldn’t, like even letters. I couldn’t like p’s and s’s and stuff like that, I couldn’t say it. No one could, well apart from like, they could do like exercises like, like blowing my cheeks and stuff like that, and my lips and stuff, that was the main like worries for me, and for them.
 
What was that, the physical…?
 
Yeah, like muscles, the muscles on my, my lips, my lips and cheeks and stuff. Everything, pretty much. Everything. But they kept doing it and doing it, and obviously I was getting like a little bit better and stuff like that, but they were obviously, they just didn’t stop. So I can’t explain it, but yeah, it just happened as it did. It was just, I was so glad. Obviously, like I couldn’t say what I was thinking because I was just thinking about getting back to speaking and stuff like that. I didn’t want anything else, but I could talk again and that obviously just again spurred me in as well as the – what’s it called – As well as the walking and talking again. That’s all I was aiming for.
 
And so the speech and language therapists helped you sort of regain the muscles control in your face?
 
Exactly, exactly, yeah.
 
And then did they work on your actual speech itself?
 
Yeah, yeah.
 
And tell me about how they did that?
 

Like again, like that, it was all to do with the muscles. That was all it was. Like obviously there was other stages I needed, like think about, like obviously like the facial like expressions and stuff like that. I had to, it was like the same as walking, I had to just train it all back again. Like, my, especially my lips and my mouth that was the hardest bit, than the walking again. It was more I can’t explain it, but it was so, I was trying so much, but it never clicked, if that makes sense, whereas the talking and the walking did. I just, that spurred me on so much, and then when I couldn’t talk and stuff like that I just, well I’m not going to be able to talk again well, as much as I did, but yeah. It all, it all came through, thanks to the obviously the speech therapist and stuff like that. 

 

Part of Daniel’s skull was removed after his brain injury. He was excited to return to hospital...

Part of Daniel’s skull was removed after his brain injury. He was excited to return to hospital...

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Then tell me a bit about the next surgery you had which was to put the titanium plate in your head?
 
It was in what’s it called? [Name of hospital]. I’ve never been in there before. I was, what can I say, I was excited, if you know what I mean. I was excited that I was getting my plate. And so I was more eager to see if I could speak again and what my change would be, they kept telling me I might have, as I did, like pressure always there, because there was no plate on it. So I was just anxious. Not anxious. I was happy, well I was nervous at the same time. But I remember it because I walked there, and walked up to the theatre room and stuff like that. And I was just like smiling and stuff like that. Even though I was like oh what’s going to happen? I was so nervous, but when I got there I was like relieved, if that makes sense, especially after the operation and everything went well. I was just like yes!! It was nice. A good feeling. A very good feeling.
 
Why did you have a good feeling?
 
Because I thought, yeah this...I thought that’s it. It’s all over kind of thing. But, obviously it wasn’t, but to me it was. As I am right now and then there was just obviously like swelling and stuff like that and it all started dimming. Sorry. It all started going down. I was like relieved in a way. Like I was at all; I was very relieved. And now I know the seizures started but I’m not going into that again. Right. It’s just this is me basically.

 

 

Part of Daniel’s skull was removed after brain injury. A dip in his head was later covered with a...

Part of Daniel’s skull was removed after brain injury. A dip in his head was later covered with a...

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I just get on with it now. Before, like before the actual plate was put, when I was like able to go to the shops and stuff like that with the dip, it was like everyone kept looking and stuff like that. And I didn’t care at all. But now I feel like, oh imagine if I’d still had it and stuff like that, and now it’s just, well get on with it. I’ve got a scar on my head, you know, what I mean?
 
So before you had the plate put in the bone had been removed and hadn’t been replaced, so you could very definitely see?
 
Oh yeah, everyone kept looking. At the time I wasn’t at all fussed. I couldn’t care less about what people were looking at. I would start laughing at them rather than like being like angry or stuff like that. Because I was saying, I just kept thinking, yeah, I’m getting, in a month I’m getting a new one. So do you know what I mean? I just thought, forget it. Getting a new one, so you lot can laugh or stare at the moment, but when I’m back to normal I’ll have a nice, not nice but I’ll have a scar there. So it’s people now that they probably do think, oh look at that guy with the scar, but again, again it doesn’t bother me at all. You know, literally at all. I couldn’t care less, what people will think. Because obviously people think and look and stuff like that, but to me it’s not a problem at all, especially after what I’ve been through. Again I couldn’t care less. But just be happy like.

 

 

After his operation to fit a titanium plate in his skull, Daniel developed seizures. He cannot...

After his operation to fit a titanium plate in his skull, Daniel developed seizures. He cannot...

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Why are you not driving at the minute?
 
Simply because of the metal plate. You’ve got to have a year’s clearance to drive after the plate, because it could again, because of the seizures, like it could take six, seven, eight months before I could have had a seizure and then obviously if I’ve got drive, if I’m driving and I have a seizure do you know what I mean? It’s not really the well way forward, so obviously they’ve given me time for the year to like see how the seizures are going to fold out and stuff like that. But even now – I was petrified, I thought I would never drive again and stuff like that. But now, obviously I know how to deal with it and stuff like that now. It’s good.
 
When you start driving again do you think you will have any worries about that?
 
Any worries? Obviously I’m not to me I really don’t think so. Well to be on the safe side like, just in case, I have a few like lessons and stuff like that, just to get back into the grips of driving and how, how I’ve like gone through it like. Just in case, like any anxieties and stuff like that, like to be on the safe side. Yes, I really, again positive, not, not doing no negativity at all.
 
That’s something you’re looking forward to?
 

Yeah, rather than just thinking just in case I have another car crash or something like that. I’m not even thinking about that. That was just gone. I can only have another one, but not have, what’s it called a big like, before, that was a mistake kind of thing. I have learnt from it definitely… but positive.  

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