Ben and James versus the Arabian desert: Don't know... - Headway


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Ben and James versus the Arabian desert


Don't know if anyone saw this today ?

Whilst the story of James Cracknel and Ben Fogel crossing was quite interesting, It was the behind the scenes story of how James Cracknel's head injury affected him was very interesting. Helped my family understand more of what I am going through.

What James told the camera over the two programs is that three years on:

He suffers lack of sensitivity and can' easily read personal situations - this lead to a huge argument that forced them to stop filming

He went through a period of self exclusion - he doesn't know why but it just happened. During this time he lost contact with a lot of friends including Ben Fogel whom he hadn't been in contact with for a couple of years

Mood swings are still there - at one point he nearly wades into a camel with fist flying but Ben stops him. Several times during the program Ben Fogel looked almost frightened to be around James because he didn't know how he was going to react.

Extreme personality traits -

For us the most interesting part was Ben Fogel talking candidly when alone to the camera that James is a completely different person to whom he was before his accident. He seems some of his old traits there but it is like talking to a complete stranger and had to become friends again with the new James.

As I mentioned at the start, the journey across the desert is secondary to the personal journey the two of them went on. Well worth watching on iPlayer if its available

14 Replies

Hi Sospan, yes I watched the program with interest also in the hope that some of my family might have watched it and also understood about me and my mood swings both prior to (due to stress I think) and also since my BI about 5 weeks after I left my husband (due to the stress of our relationship)

but None of my immediate family were interested in coming to visit me here and OH has even dismissed Headway earlier this year as being for 'down and outs'. We have a friend in UK who has just had 4 weeks in hospital after a TBI, whose wife says he is terribly confused and disoriented, no appetite or taste, can,t concentrate and short term memory loss, yet my husband flew over to visit him, although he and our sons dismiss what has happened to me, - the BI from spontaneous aneurysm and hemorrhage, fall in May, Nervous Breakdown May, car accident in November when also, hit by airbag! You will know from my many recent posts, made out of desperation for support and help that I have had many of the symtoms we have all suffered from, including wrecking almost 3 computers this year, because I live in a permanent state of confusion and disorientation....

I'm sorry this has turned into being about me again, when so many on here have had much worse happen to cause their BI's than me but the effects are the same and very difficult to deal with for me because I,ve not had any support from family, friends or health system here. I eat occasionally if hungry and sleep on settee if tired. I've lost a lot of weight over the year, gone from obese to being malnourished with thin arms and bones sticking out, so now I don,t care if I live or die.

sospan in reply to SAMBS

no problem making the post all about you, after all the BI is all about yourself especially after having some many subsequent problems.

In some respect, I get rather jealous of some peoples recovery as they get lots of help and support and people around them to give support. Many of us haven't got all this and stumble around in the dark alone.

BTW took me 6 attempts to reply to this today - doh!

Kirk5w7 in reply to sospan

I can identify with that jealousy, I have had lots of support and am very grateful for it, it's just so hard to think that this is it for the rest of your life, mine was a virus, not even a blow to the head or a stroke, it horrifies people when I tell them, doesn't help when you're told by your GP you are the only one in the practice with these problems so they're learning too!!!!!!!

SAMBS in reply to sospan

glad you understand sospan, know what you mean about the jealousy, it must be marginally easier for people with a support network especially in their own country. I have loved living in France been here -6 years but he year 2013 has been the worst ever for me especially with ongoing after effects of BI. Too many other things have occurred this year also, so no longer have the mental, physical or emotional capacity to do anything else for myseff.

CallyR in reply to SAMBS

We on this site care that you live a long a prosperous recovery :-) One thing the doctors do not understand is the affect on our Endocrine system. It sounds to me as if you need your Cortisol and Thyroid hormone levels monitored as this will make a world of difference when they are stabilised. Laughter and Smile therapy rebalanced my hormones so watch your favourite comedy show more often. Dawn French, Michael McIntyre, Frank Spencer, Mr Bean helped me each day thanks to my 11 and 13 year old daughter Doctors who saved my life when I had been discharged from hospital after only 2 days them having missed the depressed skull fracture :-).


Hi Sospan

Thanks for the post on Ben and James. It is on the BBC iplayer and I will watch with hubby later.

I always (if possible) download (well! hubby does) these programmes to my iPad to show others who are interested in my condition and don't quite understand it. After advice to myself and husband I/we explain to people that just because they can't see it doesn't mean it's not there. I used to think people would or should know automatically what's wrong with me. (I had a life threatening brain haemorrhage for gods sake!) I now know that they can't see the brain damage or know what's going on in my head and therefore don't' understand. I now ask others to watch these programmes to gain some insight into what we go through.

I have shown.....What's going in in my James Piercy to many friends and family and there reaction in the way of...."oh!!! I see" and "I understand better now" .....and...."your like that sometimes" and the best, well you might say the worst is ........"I just thought you were being awkward"

We always get a big and very grateful thank you after showing these programmes. And for those who still don't get it, there is nothing more we or I can do.

sospan in reply to Hidden

The other one is on Youtube "You look great" by John Byler, it is a series of 6 videos on how he has had to deal with a mtbi.

What I find is that you show people things like these and they understand for a while, then drift back into forgetting about your injury. The only thing that will keep it in peoples minds is repetitive news articles on brain injury - like the sad news on Michael Schumacher

Hi, the loneliness gets to me, because of my limited ability to hold conversations, all that searching for the right words and just the talking and way your head moves etc wears me out so I'm best on my own, the family understands that I'm not being funny when I just sit quietly doing my reading or puzzles , but for someone who loved nothing more than being with people and the interaction and companionship, its very sad. My last job was as a demonstrator at Costco sowing people the products and cooking and interacting but no more I'm afraid, it was the best job in the world, being paid to be sociable!!!!!

Ah well, at least Michael Schumacker will get the best of care and hopefully recover well, I know the two don't always go hand in hand and my heart goes out to him and his family.

Hi Sospan, I know and fully understand your pain, hurt, frustration and sadness, you have had a serious TbI which has undoubtly affect your whole of body functioning. One of the worst problems is the affects on the Endocrine System and the unbalance caused to Cortisol and Thyroid hormones to name a few. These changes are usually overlooked which is very sad as they can be regulated quite easily. Mood swings are often linked to hormonal imbalance you will need to lead the doctor to this answer as most GPs have no knowledge in this area unless they have been affected themselves. Good luck with your recovery, my first TBI was 1987, second 2000, third 2007. My third knock appeared to do the least damage externally but certainly created the most serious last affect, no smell, no taste, smashed jaw skull fracture (all proved six years later 2013) memory gap for two years, fatigue, confusion for two years and seven years of legal fall out. I love my life now, everyday is an opportunity to help discover new ways to resolve this invisible illness. Good Luck and stay strong be proud that you are fighting to be fit and to fit in. Life's a journey Enjoy :-)

Kirk5w7 in reply to CallyR

I feel I need to be seen by an endocrinologist, and have asked the advice of the consultant at the rehab unit I was in cos my GP didn't think so cos my thyroid results were in the normal range, but it's more than thyroid isn't it? I have a lot of symptoms of thyroid imbalance, the swallowing and husky voice when I've been speaking for a few minutes the fact that if you hold my neck I feel better!!!!! If I can't get an nhs referral I'll pursue one privately I think.

Hi sospan. I watched the first half earlier today on BBCi and was absolutely engrossed. I would've watched the rest but had to attend for my final MRI scan this afternoon, so I'll view the rest tomorrow.

I hadn't seen James Cracknel before this so it's hard to judge what changes(if any)have occurred but so far there is certainly a marked difference in behaviour between him and Ben Fogle...........if only their vastly different attitude toward the camels and their welfare.

It should be interesting to see how their relationship fares as events unfold. Thanks for highlighting this..........I would have otherwise missed a very watchable and interesting programme.

Yes, I've watched the first one too. I think it's great to have this opportunity for brain injury and its effects to be seen by so many people and fair play to everyone involved; exposing very personal matters for public viewing is brave. I really do think that Bev and James Cracknell have done a great deal to help others in this way.

My heart broke for James Cracknell when he said something along the lines of wanting to do the trip to prove he was back to where he had been pre-injury. I was also really pleased to see something from a friend's perspective as I've not come across this before. Sadly I suspect this is because most 'friends' don't stick around in the same way as most family...


Brain injury....change of personality ..... rants for no reason.

I can identify with that but is does mightily brown me off when things like this happen to our so-called celebrities and the 'cause celebre' is an injury which others suffer accordingly, quietly and without jumping in front of a camera -- and I bet he was paid for it too.

Sorry folks; I don't go a bundle on this.

sospan in reply to Hidden

I know what you mean, it is like the clamour for news on Schumacher mention it initially but then withdraw. I also don't go much for the I am the celebrity so lets go an do something really difficult and take the camera crew and a whole support group.

Taking all that away, It wasn't James Cracknell's side of the story that I found interesting, it was Ben Fogel's relationship. Many of us mention (especially on this board) that when we get injured a lot of friends and family for what ever reason don't keep in touch. Ben and James were quite close prior to the accident then had barely talked for three years - neither knew why. James didn't think there was anything wrong with his behaviour and that he was juts being himself. However, Ben could see the behaviour was completely out of character and at one point mentioned he didn't know who he was.

With a lot of these programs you take them with a pinch of salt. However, I guess there was a lot of things that happened off camera that couldn't have been shown and I guess that would have been pretty volatile. There was a point where Ben said he was actually frightened to be around him.

Many of our partners and friends will certainly have experienced those feelings at some points during our recovery. And if only a few people gain some acceptance and understanding from the program then for me it has some value

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