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Patient story

Learning to live with brain injury

James shares his story of accepting his life and ability has changed, and how support is enabling him to rebuild



My name is James, I was a patient at the Blackheath Brain Injury Clinic and was discharged a few weeks ago. I want to share my story in my own words


I was admitted to Blackheath in October 2022, coming from Guy’s Hospital where I had been treated following an epileptic seizure in August 2022. My treatment included being put into a medically-induced coma which caused a bleed on the brain.

Previously, I was a head of communications at an Asset Management Group listed on the FTSE 1000 Index. I joined the group after becoming an award-winning financial journalist. I hold a degree in politics and economics from Lancaster University.

One of my memories whilst being a patient at Guy’s Hospital include sitting down in Costa Coffee with my mum, who told me she didn’t think she’d see me again when I was in the coma. Fortunately, that woke me up to what had happened to me and what a terrible experience my parents and family had been through. When I repeated this story to friends, they said they had left the hospital doubting they’d see me again.

I was uncomfortable at the Blackheath clinic and struggled to come to terms with the situation, but I quickly learnt that the people there were there to help and assist me. 

Throughout my time at Blackheath, I really enjoyed some of the sessions, including occupational therapy, psychology, speech and language therapy and physiotherapy. The quality of the sessions helped build my trust and understanding of the people and their goals. They also helped to build my confidence, which brought a welcome element of comfort.

My time at Blackheath gave me perspective on my difficulties. It also enlightened me on the extent of my brain injury and where I fall short. It taught me to trust the people at Blackheath as they are here to help me.

I learnt that it’s important to remember that I have sustained a traumatic brain injury and I shouldn’t benchmark myself on what I have previously achieved, such as A-level maths. I used to beat myself up for failing to complete maths problems on admission to the clinic, that I would have previously. Thankfully, I was reminded that I was on a learning journey, and I have a brain injury.

As Ackerman said, it does take a sustained effort – and time – to recover from a brain injury. It is a long arduous journey for patients. I was comforted and encouraged by the sympathetic comments of some notable tutors, who recognised the challenges patients faced.

In time, with the assistance of the fantastic people at Blackheath, I hope to remodel my brain so I can think better and more wisely.

Given the period of time I spent at Blackheath, I have to thank the team for enabling my recovery and for giving me hope and the ability to remodel my brain.

As a wise friend said to me “Your mental health is your wealth”, and I need to save the mental fortitude that I have accrued.

Here is an interesting interview with England international, Abi Burton.

I recognised some of the stories Abi told, for example thinking she could go to the World Cup and play. Her mum told her the World Cup was weeks away and she wouldn’t play. 

A comparison I would draw was of me in Guy’s Hospital, thinking I could get out of bed and go into work.

Like Abi, everything to me is my mum and dad.

Without the help of Blackheath staff, I wouldn’t know anything about other acquired brain injuries that my peers have sustained, such as encephalitis, which inspired me to follow the Encephalitis Society on Twitter, and discover Abi’s video interview which they posted.

Also, without the help of the Blackheath team, I wouldn’t have made so much progress on my journey to recovery. I am eternally grateful for their support.