A Journey of a 1000 miles starts with a single step

Recovery - Initial Problems Recovery - Initial Problems

An outline of the initial problems and how I coped with them

The following headings cover some aspects of brain injury that can affect people. I was fortunate that I suffered only a small number of problems.


While I was able to concentrate for short period on things, if it required any prolonged thought I would find it very tiring.
This was not only limited to work, e.g. We went to see the X-Men file which I watched all the way through, but if you had asked me at the end what it was about I would not have been able to say with any confidence. This has been something which as time has gone on has improved, although I still find that to do 3 consecutive days at work is too much


I have been told that I did not have a problem at all with long term memory or with knowing who people are when I was in hospital. The part of my memory that has been affected is the short term memory.
One of the therapists at RNHRD had a good analogy; the memory is like a filing cabinet, with lots of drawers to store short term items in before going to the long term memory. In effect I only had one drawer for temporary storage so it was very transient and would be replaced by whatever the latest bit of information was.
The way that I managed this, was to carry a pocket notebook around at all times so that I could jot things down in it, the challenge then was to remember to refer back to the notebook on a regular basis
As well at the notebook I also started filling in a daily diary, which I had not done before, and this has proved very useful in checking things from months ago which I have no recollection of, in fact I would probably find this a useful tool even if I had not had the head injury.


This was only a short lived problem, it was most apparent when at one of my out patient sessions at RNHRD I walked out with a couple of the therapists and we weaved around a bit then that asked me to show them the way back to the hospital.
I have to admit that I actually had no idea but I knew the general direction based on the sun and the fact we had been walking generally south. I like to think that my orientation is reasonably good having worked as a cartographer and with maps for the last 25 years.


This has been the major problem that I have faced and also the one that has been most enduring, I have descibed it as 'being wrapped in coton wool' or 'wrapped in a blanket of fatigue' which it is hard to wear down/break though.
In recovery I was fortunate to be able to recuperate at home, Janet was working in Swindon and we have no children, so it was very peaceful with nothing to disturb my resting which was all day to start with.
I even took the opportunity to sleep on the bus going into Bath for RNHRD appointments. The bus terminates in Bath, so no danger of missing a stop.
Even things that you do not normally consider as being tiring have a fatiguing affect; in a room with a babble of conversation, even reading a book.
I borrowed some talking books from a friend which ment I could listen with my eyes closed and replay the parts I fell asleep in.


I am not sure that I actually had coordination problems, it just seemed that way when I found that I could not pick things up very precisely nor ride my bike.
The limitations were probably a factor of a lost of flexibility and strength and the riding a bike problem was certainly due to my broken wrist and balance being affected


The most obvious balance problem I had was trying to ride my bike, accentuated by my painful wrist.
I also found that I had to hold onto banisters going up and down stairs and that my legs felt very wobbly and I would use the wall to steady myself.
I started going to Pilates to help in restoring my flexibiliy, and then going to Yoga which not only helped my flexibility but my strength and balance as well

Temperature Regulation

My understanding of why I was more suceptible to temperature fluctuations after the accident is that the thyroid gland, which regulates your bodies temperature, is located in the middle of the brain and was almost certainly subject to some rattling around during my fall.

This next set of headings are related to the specific problems I faced, some of which where due to my physical injuries. Only the Minor Problems are brain injury related.


I had broken my wrist in the fall, but this was not noticed in hospitals, it wasn't going to kill me. It was only as I was about to be discharged that I commented on the fact that my wrist was very stiff and painful. I did not tell any of the doctors as I was afraid that it would delay my going home.
I did mention this though at one of my first out patient appointments at RHNRD, and they x-rayed my wrist and it had definitly been broken. By this time though the bone had reset itself and the orthopedic surgeons who I saw both recommended physio although the first said 'start using it' but he ment the same thing.


I had sustained very similar injuries to the rotator cuff muscles that you get when dislocating a shoulder, but with the added trauma of having landed on it very heavily in my fall. I had also dislocated my collar bone and it still protrudes slightly at the shoulder end.
Initially I could not even raise my left hand to my ear, and undertook intensive physio to remedy this.

Loss of flexibility

The loss of flexibility had two causes, the most obvious being the physical injuries, broken pelvis, wrist and the shoulder rotator cuff, the other less obvious cause was the enforced immobility from 5 weeks in hospitals.
I think I spent several weeks in bed before going for midnight wanders - another feature of the head injury, I couldn't sleep at night, but did most of the day. The midnight wanders were a cause of concern for the nurses until I readjusted to a normal sleep pattern.

Minor Problems

Heavy Legs - my legs, mainly my thighs were very 'heavy'. I kept saying 'as though I had run a marathon' and I can now say it is like that, but it doesn't ease off as quickly, taking over a year.

Tingling arms/fingers and leg/feet - I had a feeling like 'pins and needles' predominantly in my hands and feet but also extending up towards my knees and elbows. This feeling did fade away as if it was draining out of my fingers and toes although 3 years later I still have a slight tingling feeling in my fingers that can result in clumsy handling of some objects.

Numb face/jaw - I liken this feeling to that of leaving a dentists with the affects of an anaesthetic injection. This has left me now with lips that are more suceptible to the cold than I remember them being.

Blurred vision - I had a regular eyetest for work and the optician recommended glasses, when I explained about my accident she suggested going back for another test after another 6 months. I did this and found that my vision had returned to normal. I suspect that the rattling around disrupted my optic nerves and they needed time to settle down


Physio - I did see a physio at RNHRD who gave me various exercises to carry out at home which I did at least twice a day before I had started going back to work .
In general the more physio type exercises I did the faster the physical injuries would recover.
My view was 'if it hurts it's doing some good', naturally this has to be a 'good' pain not associated with causing damage, which if you are in a simlar position you will be familiar with.

Swallowing - While I was in intensive care at Bangor I had a tracheotomy as my breathing was ventilator assisted. I have no recollection of this either, but I did find that for the first couple of months after the accident I had trouble swallowing and did dribble on occasions when I was feeling more tired than what was 'normal' at the time.

Gym visits - I started going to the gym with the carer from TrueCare where he could make sure I did not fall off or otherwise have a problem using any of the equipment. I continued visiting the gym after he had stopped coming with me, this ment having to walk the 2 miles there, use the gym and then walk the 2 miles back. This was before I was able to ride my bike because of the balance problem and my wrist.