Struggling with life following brain injury

Hi

Nearly 6 months ago I had an accident, resulting in a fractured skull, severe damage on my brain that narrowly avoided an operation, plus multiple seizures in the ambulance and a weeks stay in hospital.

I work as a HGV driver for a builders merchant unloading with lorry mounted crane & covering various branches where I live.

Since the accident I’ve had to surrender both my driving licences, car and HGV. Was off work for around a month, then returned on reduced hours just working in the branch. I was getting the bus & living in a village in Wiltshire we have poor bus services. I’ve worked as many hours as I can do with buses & still close to a 45hour working week.

Yesterday I had to attend a welfare meeting at work. My doctor recently gave me a doctors note to tell them I’m suffering post concussion syndrome as a result of my accident & the resulting brain injury. After nearly two hours in my meeting & most of it being them hassling me to work longer hours. I was called back in the afternoon to be told they are not happy me being there and they were sending me home sick with immediate effect.

I’ve been back at work the past 5 months and even able to do the job they put me in. I have been having headaches, suffering fatigue and struggle to concentrate when there is very load noise or shouting.

Now I’m left worrying about how I’m going to pay my mortgage, bills etc. Plus feeling as though they are just trying to force me out of the company as it’s another 18months before I’ll be able to drive hgv. Although it’s hopefully not much more than a week for my car licence.

I have tried to explain to them what it’s been like for me, I was told my accident was so serious I nearly died. When I came out of the hospital I no longer felt I was the same person. I’ve lost all of my smell & most of my taste. The fatigue is something I just have to deal with along with the pain.

I have days that I wish I had not survived, yet if I talk to my partner about it she gets upset. So then I have no one left to tell how I feel. It just feels like an act of kindness, helping my brother in law move house resulted in my whole world being blown apart.

13 Replies

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  • Hi and welcome Tim.

    Your story is similar to that of many others. Unfortunately the brain does not heal like the rest of the body.

    Those parts that are severely damaged do not regenerate, the functions that are lost have to be done by other parts of the brain and the only way for that to happen is to practice, practice, practice do that new neural pathways can be made and sometimes this just does not happen.

    Some people are just never able to return to work, the fatigue is one of the reasons, when fatigue strikes it is unlikely that one is able to work through it, rest or sleep has to happen.

    I have been unable to return to work, and I no longer drive, my reactions are much slower now and I have lost some vision in one eye.

    Unfortunately your workplace may be unable to make adjustments for you to return to work, seek advice from headway on this. It will be difficult for any one to predict just when or if you will be able to return to your old job.

    I'm sure this is not what you would want to hear, but again unfortunately it is how it is.

    You must continue to push yourself to achieve as much as you can, but it is not an easy path we tread.

    Take care

    Janet

  • Sorry to hear of your change of fortune Tim. Most of us here have had our lives turned upside down by brain injury, which comes out of the blue and so often leaves us stunned and angry.

    As Janet suggests, phone the Headway helpline for advice on employment rights, and also for information on coping with PCS.

    You may want to start making enquiries about your benefit entitlements and getting help from your local job centre in looking for less physically demanding work.

    I hope you'll find there's still quality of life to be found, not necessarily worse, just different. All best wishes, Cat....

  • You've a bumpy road ahead.

    Finding a new career that you can manage with your new limitations can be a difficult process.

    I would recommend going to your GP to see if you can get a referral to a neuro psych for some strategies.

    They won't fix anything, but might help.

  • Good morning Tim,

    I am so sorry to hear your storey but I'm afraid its one of the awful consequences of a brain injury which we have to deal with. Educating others in this is difficult but we have to try.

    As others have said your storey is so so similar to others on here and its horrible as the bi you have suffered is not visible and people do not understand what you are going through. A broken leg or arm people see straight away that you have a temporary disability but with a bi its invisible.

    My advice would be to give your local headway a call and get some advice from them. Also counciling from headway is a fantastic way to help you too, it sure helped me.

    Nick

  • Thanks for all your comments, it’s reassuring to know that it’s what everyone goes through.

    It certainly is the looking normal on the outside that I find so frustrating.

  • Good morning Tim

    It can be so frustrating trying to deal with everything. Can I ask you a few questions firstly do you have a union and if no you can still phone them and ask for advice. Secondly do you have life insurance work or private, you may have illness insurance attached?

    Don't just let your company squeeze you out they will have to give you an agreement or redundancy. You may have to join a union separately from your company. GMB take everyone.

    On a personal note both you and your wife need to go to Headway so that your condition can be explained to you. Take care of yourself

    Oli xx

  • No I’ve not got personal life insurance. I think the insurance through work only covers me for injury at work.

    I’m not with a union, but I’m going to see citizens advice next week.

    My employer said Wednesday this is not about them getting me out, apparently it’s for my health. Even though I told them sat at home on my own worrying about my health, job, mortgage and bills etc is the worst thing for me.

    It’s proved what I thought before the BI that the company considers drivers as throw away employees. They’d rather a good driver with a good relationship with customers & years of experience with crane just leaves. Then they will take on someone that’s just passed hgv licence, pay for them to go through a weeks training for the crane licence. Cause thousands in damage to lorries as they are not experienced in how to get in and out of the kind of places we are expected to get into. Then they leave in under a year. The cycle starts over.

    I’m just holding out hope for the next week when I hit my 6 months! My doctor said there is no reason I will not get my licence back (car) but up to 7.5 ton. Then I plan to go agency.

    The company has shown me exactly how much they value me when they know how much I have been going through these past months.

  • I get it. Had the same "it would have been better if I hadn't survived thinking" for sure and having the wife be upset by that. So I try not to say that around her anymore. At times I still think that though. But I'm still here so I make the best of it that I can. Just wanted you to know there are others here who have the same thoughts about it.

  • Hey Tim

    Exactly the same here my friend.

    Five years since I had a freak accident on holiday, slipping in a toilet and ending with a fractured skull, subdural haematoma and escaped surgery (my choice).

    I'm also struggle to concentrate and feel tired regularly plus loud noises are disorientating.

    Take your time to recover properly, I rushed back to my freelance work within weeks so I didn't lose money but it hit me really hard about a year later.

    Sometimes you have to give in and rest. Sleep if you need to sleep, go to a quiet place if you need to and avoid extra pressure too.

    As mentioned, the brain doesn't recover like a scar does and there seems to be no consistent rules from one person to another in the lasting affects

    I made the decision to completely work for myself and be in charge of my own working hours and responsibilities. I'm happy to advise if anyone wants more info, drop me a PM.

    The local Headway is certainly a place to go to. Get as much support as you can.

    Good luck buddy and keep chatting to everyone on here. It's a real support.

  • Can I ask what you do, if it's the same as you did before but for yourself, and how you manage to keep focus working from home? Any advice? Perhaps you could start a fresh post for this?

  • Hi Tim

    I understand it must be difficult for you but please make the best of your time. My partner suffered brain injury over a year ago and he has only recovered to the minimally conscious state. I would give anything to see him doing even half as well as you are. You are one of the lucky ones, try to focus on what you have and not so much on what you don't. I wish you all the best and never stop fighting!

  • Hi Tim

    Dont give up Mate

  • oh no tim i am your not alone, as bowie said. you need to find and and attend your local headway monthly meeting, people like us who have had a head injury or an abi due to a stroke, bring the wife along and your boss, so they get a clearer view of what post bi is really like.

    you look well, as they pick themselves off the floor they realise that was the wrong thing to say.............disability isnt always visible.

    you are working too many hours, the guide lines are, if you work in the morning of one day, you take it easy until the afternoon of the next and it carries on like that.

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