Look after your noddle!

brainSuch sad, sad news that Phil Hughes, the cricketer, has died following an accident playing the sport he loved, something he did, I imagine, nearly every day. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/30219440

This devastating news really got me thinking about head injuries. As many readers of this blog will know, my former partner and amazing dad to my children had a severe brain injury nearly 16 years ago. He was also doing something he loved (heaven only knows why he loved it so?!), scaffolding. He was working on a site in Shropshire when a 70 lb scaffolding pole was accidentally knocked off the side of the building where it had been stacked and landed on the left side of his head.  Unfortunately, unlike Phil Hughes, he wasn’t wearing a hard hat. He was rushed to The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and then to North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary where he endured 3 hours of neurosurgery.

His accident left him with aphasia, severe apraxia and dysphagia, he spent a long period of time in a head injury rehabilitation unit in Stoke On Trent, a Cheshire home in Wales and then finally came back to live with his parents. He is brilliant man who continues to have significant challenges to his communication and mobility but has come so far, he has worked so hard to make the most of his skills. This is, primarily, the reason I became a speech and language therapist all those years ago.

The boys were very small (4 and 10 months old) at the time, the accident completely blew apart our little family unit, his parents’ lives, brothers, my family, friends, colleagues, and so many more. There are days when the boys (young men!) and I still get very sad for the bits of life he and us as a family have missed out on but life has a habit of throwing things at you, both big and small, and you just have to try to see the positives in any situation.

I had another little reminder of how important it is to look after that lump that holds all those clever little neurons just a few weeks ago. Whilst working down in London I tripped and fell over the hotel’s steps and bumped my head. I felt fine and brushed off my friend’s concerns but woke up with no recall of what had happened, blood on my pillow and a still bleeding, humongous lump on my head! A trip to A&E that evening (after vomiting and dizzy spells on the train home) for a CT scan and neck x-ray told me that I was okay, “just severe concussion off you go!” said the consultant and so I thought that would be that. Unfortunately it took me two weeks to feel anywhere near normal, suffering with headaches, dizzy spells, forgetfulness and irritability. It gave me a huge scare and now think we should all walk around with head protection on every day!!

So folks, please look after your noddle, you need it!