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Raymond

Age at interview: 44
Brief Outline: Raymond works as a product development scientist for a large company. He is married and has one daughter who is 8 years old. His ethnic background is White Irish.
Background: Raymond works as a product development scientist for a large company. He is married and has one daughter who is 8 years old. His ethnic background is White Irish.

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Fourteen years ago, Raymond was travelling in France on his motorbike with his wife on the back and was involved in a collision. His wife was uninjured, but he had a broken leg and was kept in hospital overnight. 
 
The next morning his wife became concerned when he wasn’t making much sense talking to her, so she alerted the staff. It was later discovered that a fat embolism had travelled to his brain and had caused damage. 
 
After five months in hospital in France, Raymond was flown by air ambulance back to hospital in England. He said, “I’d lost all my all my speech. I’d lost all my words. I couldn’t write, couldn’t read, couldn’t talk and I certainly couldn’t walk”. 
 
His wife found a rehabilitation hospital for him to go to. Whilst he can’t remember all the details of his rehabilitation, he described it as the most challenging time, especially as his self-confidence had taken a huge hit. He realised he was a different person than before. Even so, he was driven to recover as best he could. 
 
Raymond was able to return to work. He was ashamed of disclosure and initially tried to hide the effects of his brain injury from his employers. However, he now thinks it would have been better if he had been open about his injury. 
 
When he told his employers about his problems they were very supportive and arranged an appointment with a clinical neuropsychologist, a specialist in brain injury. The psychologist was able assess how Raymond’s brain injury had affected him and what it meant for his daily life. 
 
In work, Raymond finds it difficult to concentrate when other people are around. He copes with this by going to the office early. He says he uses his iPhone to help him remember things he might otherwise forget. This allows him to feel prepared and in control.
 
For Raymond exercise is a complete stress relief. It allows him to use the time to think about other aspects of work and life.
 
Raymond has been seeing a neuropsychiatrist (a specialist in mental health after brain injury) to help him understand what happened to him mentally using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT is a technique that enables him to work around stress points, like over-thinking things that are not really important.
 
Raymond’s daughter was born since his injury. He says they have a great relationship and that having her was the most wonderful thing of all. 

 

 

When Raymond was sent to the supermarket as part of his rehabilitation, he was overwhelmed by the...

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When Raymond was sent to the supermarket as part of his rehabilitation, he was overwhelmed by the...

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It was a nice little room right, quiet room in the middle of this place where which was quite quiet anyway in [place name] and I was sitting there thinking right, “None of these tests are really challenging”. In fact, I remember a few of them from the time in Rehab UK. And so it wasn’t concerning me that much, right? So then the last day the, I think it was [clinical neuropsychologist’s name] gave me a fiver, he said “Look go and get these items from these shops next door”. Straight away overdrive, I went ballistic. Because all I saw was this list, needed some items and even though there was this shopping parade shopping precinct all kind of like different shops I just went into one shop and asked them, “Do you have this, this, this” right? And I ended up spending my five pounds on two items. That just told me that that was one good example of when I go into kill-mode, right? Whatever strategy I have as a person. Number two, it’s being in a shopping environment which you’ve got all these colours, all these songs, all these sights, you can’t really focus on one thing, you’ve got lots of different areas, you know. And that was a great example of when I completely go into overdrive, if you, that if you understand what I mean by overdrive. Completely overdrive with anxiety. 

 

When Raymond became aware of how his brain injury was affecting him, he said he struggled to...

When Raymond became aware of how his brain injury was affecting him, he said he struggled to...

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And I told you earlier as well, you know, like I’ve been through years, many, many years, of soul searching. Trying to understand why I couldn’t do things. Why I was having difficulty with other areas. Until I developed different strategies to see how I could address different projects at work.
 
At the start you said that you realised that you were a different Raymond to the Raymond before?
 
Yes.
 
How were you different?
 
Well… I often talk about this as being the biggest death in a brain injury; it’s the death of the person themselves… I used to be very, very confident, you know, almost – this’s where my word finding comes back to haunt me again – almost arrogant, right? And, you know, that had its positives in the fact that I can do anything, I could do whatever I wanted to do. And even if I didn’t know how to do it, I could at least brag it, you know, blag it whatever it’s called, you know. But when I came round from the coma, I realised just how difficult it was for me to speak. My self-confidence took a huge hit because I could no longer speak at the speed at which I thought, which was the person, the way I was before.
 
Was there a particular sort of moment of realisation? Was there anything that made, one instance in time where you thought actually I am different and I hadn’t realised it before?
 
You know, as a sane person, right, as you are Anne-Marie, right, as a normal person right. That’s the kind of rationale you would have in your head. Unfortunately, I’ve been living with this now since ’98. How long ago is that now? 13 years, yes, 13 years. And over those years it’s been a gradual kind of emasculation for me in terms of realising certain things. So it’s been over a long period of time. It’s not as though you wake up some mornings thinking...It’s different, you know, it must be different, you know. It’s because of the constant bombardment of ideas in your head. The realisation that you can’t do certain things. You can do other things. You’re good in certain areas, you’re not so good in other areas. That you realise there’s a, you’re a different person.

 

 

Raymond explains the complications associated with talking after brain injury.

Raymond explains the complications associated with talking after brain injury.

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I think back now and just remember how difficult it was really for me to talk in those days. Even today it’s still very, very challenging. And people don’t realise just how much goes into actually trying to speak' to gather your thoughts in your mind, how you want to express them, the mood you want to be in when you express the things you want to say, and then to get them across clearly and concisely can be very, very challenging. And I think for the first few years with me the hardest thing was trying to find and remember words that I’d wanted to say. And I was always speaking in too quiet a voice. Not out of because I was lazy, but because, you know, I’d be in the middle of a sentence trying to say something and I would forget what I wanted to say, so I decided to go very quiet then instead. And it used to annoy people quite a lot and I make no apology for it at all because it is really quite traumatic.  

 

Raymond breaks problems down into small manageable parts.

Raymond breaks problems down into small manageable parts.

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I mean do you feel you’ve recovered from your brain injury now?
 
No.
 
No.
 
A very good point. Not at all. In fact my brain injury is now chronic. Okay. By that I mean that is... oh what do I mean? I’m not going to recover; I’m not going to improve any further. I’m not going to improve any further. We’re now at a stage where I know what I need to do every day, right. What I do is if, for example, my wife asked me to order some goods, right? And I ordered them and they came to work, right. For example, we got a big box for Christmas for our daughter. I then had to work on how I was going to bring that home. Right? So it’s like the strategy I have is to treat every separate, every separate issue I have as a little mini project, and almost like address out those, you know, like I would with any project at work. So that involves, you know, seeing how I was going to get the box from the “goods in” area to my car. How I was going to get my car home. What I would do to get the box in home. Whether I would park in the normal spot or park across the road here and park the car in the normal space right.
 
I know these to you and most people are just nothing, right, you wouldn’t even think about them. But to me they are a hugely complex thing right? Very challenging and requires an awful of thought and a lot of energy to try and make sure I deliver on what I committed to do to my wife to bring that home for our daughter. Right?

 

 

Raymond has found his iPhone very useful because of the variety of ways in which he can use it to...

Raymond has found his iPhone very useful because of the variety of ways in which he can use it to...

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Now one area that I found very useful is the iPhone, the technology in the iPhone, because it’s got a diary function where you can make notes to yourself like in agendas and also like what you’re heading for in the next week or two. And meetings like, I’ve had this one in my diary for about three weeks now, and that way I’ve always been able to tell, you know, what’s coming in the week ahead of me, you know.
 
And I’ve also be able to prepare for it, unlike the last time, because I didn’t know what was happening the last time. I know to what to expect these days, you know.
 
So, I use the diary function a lot every day. I also use the notes function as well, making notes to myself. And I just realised that I can email those notes to myself to my work address, so when I get into work in the morning, I’ve notes I can recollect from the night previously before. And that triggers a whole train of thought about how to address certain issues.

 

 

Initially Raymond did not want to tell his colleagues about his problems, but when he did they...

Initially Raymond did not want to tell his colleagues about his problems, but when he did they...

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Did people then find out or did you tell people then?
 
No, but I was much more willing to tell close confidants of mine at work what had happened to me. And also explain to them you know why I was having certain problems in certain areas and then, low and behold, I didn’t get sympathy, I got support you know, it’s amazing.
 
How did they support you?
 
I didn’t question me so much anymore. I got trusted a lot more, which makes you feel good as well when that happens, when people trust you. 

 

 

Raymond says that life owes you nothing. He accepted his injury as a project he needed to work on.

Raymond says that life owes you nothing. He accepted his injury as a project he needed to work on.

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But from day one, I mean, I took the opinion that life owes you nothing, you know. Some people believe that life does, but it doesn’t, you know. You’re here by the grace of God. And I just accepted what had happened to me as being a project that I need to work on. I take it step-by-step, one day at a time and progress like that. 
 
I’m a very driven individual, always have been throughout my education, my studies, and I everything I’ve done in life and that, thank God, never left me. I had some great laughs along the way, but you know just take it, took it one step at a time.

 

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