The media and Michael Schumacher

This has been brewing in my head ever since news of his accident came out.

People who knew him tweeting and posting messages like "He's a fighter, he'll come through it". Now, I really like Schumacher and I hope nobody thinks I am being cynical here, but I thought at the time, "The Michael Schumacher you knew has gone."

But I didn't say anything to anyone because what do I know? Richard Hammond has managed to keep up his TV career since his accident, and most people probably can't notice a different with him, but I can, and my mother can, and he certainly can and said as much in his book. So you keep quiet because you know that people won't understand and they'll think you're wrong.

But the longer this goes on, the worse it gets. And you feel bad for him, and his family and friends. I remember watching a program on BBC3 about young drivers who wreck lives, presented by one of the new young reporters - this young lad's family let the cameras into the hospital and filmed him as they started to bring him round after he had a pretty bad head injury and I started crying; I know it's not because I feel sorry for myself because I don't any more, and I don't remember that stage of my recovery so why would I cry? Perhaps I can do empathy after all: I realise it's because I know what that poor boy will have to go through in the coming months and years. Perhaps he'll have to learn to walk again, talk again, read again. And I know that learning to walk again is not a trivial thing to do: I had a permanent knot of frustration in my stomach as my physio, a wonderful, patient man whom I detested more than anyone else in the history of mankind, put me through excruciating exercises to retrain my brain to balance and move my limbs more slowly, more deliberately instead of lurching around from place to place. I know from talking to my mother what an adjustment his family will have to make (or maybe I'm just projecting, but either way my pity is for him rather than myself).

Even now, I hope I am wrong about it.

Headway posted a piece that appeared on the BBC website where they (the BBC) spoke to two doctors (a former F1 head doctor and a trustee or chair of Headway) about the likely outcomes of Schumi's injuries. One said that if Michael Schumacher is able to walk, feed and dress himself again it will be a triumph of human resiliency and modern neuropathic care (or words to that effect). I think the other one of the two said (essentially) that it was unlikely that he would retain significant portions of his old personality. But they were talking without having read his medical notes. Maybe there is a chance?

To read in the media today that he is being brought around from his coma (which is fantastic news) and he is responding to instructions, with the implication being that all will be well, was encouraging. But the trouble is they seem to speak like people who see Jack Branning from Eastenders recover from a gunshot wound to the head and be back to his old self within a couple of weeks and expect it to be like that in real life. There is a crass lack of understanding and research going into these stories.

There is talk of him making a full recovery (possibly on the message boards rather than in the stories themselves), but there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of what the words "full recovery" mean. For his own sake and his family's, I hope I am wrong, but where head injuries are concerned those words seldom, if ever, mean the subject getting back to normal, to the way they were before the event.

Michael is mortal, and mortals need brains. When clots or bleeds affect he functioning of their brains, some of the effects will be irrecoverable. Think Michael Watson, a boxer in peak physical condition minutes before his trauma, and people might start understanding.

I pray for Schumi and will him to miraculously take up his bed and walk, but I fear a much worse outcome than the media and, as a result, the general public are waiting for,

Last edited by

11 Replies

oldestnewest
  • I'm a bit selfish, I only truly worry about my own problems, but having had an accident which gave me a bang on the head and having to go through the medically induced coma, I was out for three weeks, I can identify with what Michael Schumacher is going through. It took me 10 years to fully recover, and even now I am not 100% confident about my memory. I wish him all the best and I am sure his name will ensure he gets the best possible care, I will only be surprised if he has a relapse.

  • Dear Philstretchdavis, You are not selfish and i hope you will be well in the future.

  • I know exactly what you mean. I am glad he had already retired from racing because most probably he wont be able to drive again. I had a bleed and now almost 2 years on I have finaly been told I can never drive again. I love driving so it's been a big blow. But I can still walk, talk and work. To most I have recovered very well. But they don't see the struggle inside to cope with everything you could take in your stride before the bleed.

    Still we get on with things because that's what we have to do and I am sure Micheal and his family will too. At least he wont have to keep waiting and fighting to get treatment to help his future recovery.

    Like you I wish him and his famiily well. We can have empathy so that makes us better educated than the press and all who haven't experianced anyone who has had a brain injury. That makes a change doesn't it !!! :))

  • What you say makes sense to me.

    I don't see it from Michael's perspective, I can't I didn't have a head injury.

    I can however see it from his wife's perspective as I am a wife of a man who had a head injury.

    I still remember the words that gave me great hope - it looks as if your husband will make a full or significant recovery in the mid term, we just can't really tell you when the mid term is and it may get worse in the short term. At that point, though dealing with a very difficult situation, I guess I was truly thinking - oh well a few months of rehab and all will be normal again. Back to work, back to our lives and everything that was.

    18 months on.......well now I know that life will never be, not so much normal again, but definitely never the same again. Hubby will never be the same again, and though fully independent he will never be who he was again and there will be some things he will never do again. The relationship will never be the same again.

    We call it our new normal - I guess everybody can find that regardless of level of recovery but they do have to accept the new normal and forget the old normal to survive.

    My hope for the family as all other families living with brain injury is that they can come to terms with their new reality, slowly but surely, and learn to love each other for who they become not who they were. It can be a happy ending but seldom is there a miracle and everything is back to how it was. Another high profile family that talk about this is the Cracknel family - I love their honesty.

    Thoughts to Michael and his family as this next stage happens and equal thoughts for all other families going through the same thing - especially those for whom this high profile case has bought back difficult memories.

    x

  • He won't be the same, he can't be after this trauma. I'm 12 years down the line and, I know, I'm still not right, nor ever will be. Apart from the obvious, and noticeable side effects, there will be the quiet ones that his family will see. I'm left with blackouts, an LP Shunt which means no skiing or scuba any more, and that was/is hard to deal with, esp when hubby goes off on a skiing holiday! And other things that I won't go into now.

    So I wish him well, and it hope he recovers well enough that he is happy. Coz going from a very active man, to well, quite possibly, a lot less able man, will be hard.

  • I can only add my best wishes here, it is so difficult and makes me angry to see full recovery written, I foolishly, never realised the true implications, maybe it was a good thing at the time, but I expected to be back to normal in the 2 years they tell you it takes, but I know now that 2 years just means you are more likely to realise your limitations at that point. I doubt I'll ever drive, there goes my independence, I will never work again , the good thing there is I am now 61 so only 2 years til I get my pension, but enforced retirement isn't easy to accept when you've always been active, no matter what your age, but I do wish him well, as I do everybody in this position.

    My fight now is to improve my fitness, not easy with expensive gym memberships and transport to worry about, my balance needs to improve so I can go out walking more , vicious circle for lots of us, but Schumacher won't face these problems, money won't be a problem for him plus all the media attention will ensure help is not too far away, and maybe that media attention will help improve others in the same position.

    Re-reading this, I sound bitter underlying the words and maybe I am deep down, but my GP told me that my good recovery, because I have been lucky in many ways is down to me not the medical profession, they just provide the environment for your body to heal as best it can, that's why they can't predict an outcome, every body heals in a different way. So its " up and at em " again today and maybe one day I will wake up and think" this is how it used to be"

    Best Wishes to everyone on their journey, and remember we've been given another chance so make the most of it xxxxxxx

    Love. Janet

  • Yes being around a Head injury before and after they are 2 different people , i ve seen this first hand , it breaks my heart to think of the people i know and how they were before their injury ,to how they are now .

    M S will not be the guy he was back then , the world is so cruel sometimes .

  • I totally understand what you are saying, my thoughts are with his wife and children at the moment. My partner had a TBI 16 months ago and was in a state very similar to Schumacher, I remember very clearly the day they told us they were going to reduce the medication and try to bring him out of his induced coma...I remember going out for a coffee and coming back expecting to see his eyes open asking where I was. Unfortunately that was not to be, he is now in a vegetative/minimally aware state. It breaks my heart to see him this way...we had no idea at the time how our lives were to change, no one could ever of prepared us for how things are now. Unfortunately people have no idea how brain injury affects the patient and close family until it effects you personally. It is portrayed so badly on TV that when you explain how things are in real life people don't believe you....I think people who haven't seen my partner still think he will make a recovery one day and be back to "normal".

  • The reason of course is that people can only really relate things to stuff they have experience of. They may see what happened to Michael Watson, whose recovery has been remarkable but he can still barely walk, but it doesn't stick in their mind because they have no frame of reference for it...it makes the adjustment that much more difficult when it does hit families though...my wife says the Nick storyline on Corrie is much closer to the truth, she even says she sees aspects of my behaviour in him (and it's 22 years since my injury).

  • I can't argue with anything said above, yes you all know the reality of it as I do - I almost hate the word 'normal' now - how I would love to have the personality and ability to function that I had a year ago just before my BI. I was able to drive within a 3-4 weeks but all that came to a halt after a driver hit my car last November and wrote it off, totally worsening after effects of BI, which were personality related mostly. Now after the airbag in face/head a lot of other neural functions are quite bad, because they got worse, by comparison.

    Like you ladycassy I would love to and need to be able to drive again. Now without a car, I rely mostly on a taxi to take me out to a local town for shopping, mooching around he twon, coffee and/or lunch in a local cafe.

    So thinking positively, even if stupidly, I am having an assessment drive on this coming Monday afternoon with a driving school. Fortunately I live in a remote rural area (soon to change via another move ) but think I will be told I am not capable anymore - especially as it will be my 1st time driving a LHD car! Well over 30 years I have driven in UK without accident,with last 6 having been driving on rhs of road. It will all be a lot of information for my brain to assimilate and not sure about my reactions. I feel right now if they said I was capable of driving I would be frightened, I'm not convinced I'm ready or capable - though I would love to be!

    At least I can walk and talk and still manage in my own way day to day, and like everyone else I certainly wish Schumie and his family well for his future and potential for some recovery of worth.

  • I agree fuzzy head, i have been crying and praying night and day for a good recovery for Michael. i have known him since 1991 and he is such a well mannered polite guy, he and Mr Jean Todt helped me write a dedicted/tribute book, i am most grateful for there assistance.If he dies i shall be even more upset.

You may also like...