Judgement

I hate drama and I hate making a fuss. I use these blogs to work through my day to day challenges and see what comes up when I do, sort of like a meditation. But even I can say how pleased I am of how far I’ve come since my accident.

I learnt that observing thoughts rather than acting on them is the best way I can live my life.

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Even when the thoughts hurt, or they stir up an emotion in me. I also observe that it’s very easy for other people to make judgements about things, even when they themselves have never experienced it. I don’t hold it against anyone though, it’s called being human. I’m far from perfect.

I don’t judge you. I wouldn’t last five minutes in your shoes.

Even when I know my daughter is visiting Disneyland, which created a lot of disappointment in me, I observe the feeling and just get on with it. I’m a huge Disney fan, she only watches the films with me. We just finished arranging for my beauty and the beast poster to go up in my bedroom! I would love to have been the one to take her for the first time, I’ve never been myself.

At least she’ll enjoy it

Alas, when you find out that she’ll be visiting euro Disneyland on father’s day, all those feelings of disappointment come flooding back. But in a way, I should thank my ex wife for this opportunity. I thank her for giving me the chance to deal with a very difficult set of emotions in the right way and thereby allow me to grow.

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So I’m happy for all experiences, good or bad. I’m staying in my own lane and doing me, That’s it! It’s amazing how simple your life is if you allow it to be. The truth is the truth, it doesn’t need a comment or expressed opinion. The truth speaks for itself, and it always will.

 

 

Playing for England

And Just like with my nursing, I’ll die before I say no to that.

A pretty dramatic ending to my last blog. It was almost certainly the reason it got another 50 or so views, but as soon as I’d published it I knew that I’d probably tempted fate with that one.  What a numpty.

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As with most things in life, but particularly after having suffered a severe head injury, it is important to know your limitations, otherwise you could make things a lot worse for yourself. And believe me I’ve learned that logic the hard way!

As I mentioned before, the staff at my uni had gone through a lot of effort by cancelling the mandatory two students to represent them up at Westminster Abbey in order for me to attend and stay up there overnight.

However, after speaking with my mum some more about it, a one night stay in London just wasn’t going to be enough. After I told the uni this a couple of weeks ago, they still pushed for more funding. Unfortunately I found out today that they won’t be able to.

Attending a prestigious event in Westminster which finishes at 8pm and then traveling back to Bournemouth in the same day with a TBI isn’t noble, it’s stupid.

Even without a brain injury that would be tiring!

But it’s all good

Of course I’m disappointed. If going to work everyday is like playing for England at Wembley then this would have been the world cup final! However, if you get to play for England that is amazing enough, the world cup final is just a bonus.

A few years ago I had a GCS of 5. I had injuries so severe that doctors didn’t even know if I’d make a recovery.

And yet here I am about to achieve my all time dream of becoming a fully qualified nurse, so how can I really be too upset about this?  As I said to the dean of my uni today, we are so lucky with our cohort as we have so many amazing people/nurses there’ll be plenty of other fantastic candidates to choose from, most of which who would probably do a much better job than I could anyway!

I have the stamina of a hungover 80 year-old tortoise with a sprained ankle.

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Besides, it’s on day’s like today after uni lectures that I realise just how much I struggle with fatigue, even when it’s not expected. ‘Spontaneous fatigue’ if you like.

I’ve had quite a few people question my rationale for living on my own with no interest in starting a relationship lately, and the answer is just too complicated I don’t even bother to try and explain.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing I loved more than treating someone who I really cared for to everything I can and spending time with them doing soppy stuff.

But after days like today, when I need to be on my own and do my own thing in a quiet and dark room remind me of why I have chosen to live like this.

Giving it my all in other areas of my life mean that I don’t have much capacity left when I get home.

But I’d rather play for England (that’s my metaphor for working as a nurse for those who are relatively new to my blogs) than be in a relationship just for the sake of it. Ok I might not be qualifying for another year after my classmates, but that’s only a drama if you make it one. As always, I’m relaxed and just going with the journey, with a smile on my face the whole time, because life is too damn short.

Relax

Who knows, I might even be lucky enough to get another chance to do something like this in the future. But look, I’ll be honest with you, I’ve never really given a shit about the world cup. All I want is to go to work with my invisible squeaker and see what happens when I make even less of an effort with my filter than I usually do.

 

Courage is a love affair with the unknown

There I am, the four eyed fatty stood next to the editor of the nursing times.

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After the event, I told my then wife that what happened on that day devastated me so much I would never get over it. And it did, it changed me as a person completely. I went on a very dubious downward spiral after this day, which was around the 6th May 2013, just over a year I was placed on a ventilator. And a few months after my daughter was as a newborn.

I’ve spoken about the horrors that come with dying, or ‘near-dying’ in my case. Being resuscitated and intubated and remembering the whole thing, the hell of my coma dreams, the pain and suffering of a 17 hour air-ambulance trip with my arms strapped down and only foreigners around me haunts me. None of that compared to that day up in London though.

I now believe, through being a very meditative and spiritual person, that facing one’s fears or phobias, no matter how frightening they appear, is the way forward

This is true in the case of my wife, who found another man only months after we separated. So what did I do? I switched it up and found compassion to get through it. Same with the lot that tried to get me arrested. And if I receive adequate compensation from my court case, I will visit the place the accident happened (I can’t mention the name for legal reasons). Same hotel, same everything. It’s something I have to do.

On the day of the event in London, I remember saying, through a ridiculous marathon of a crying session which lasted all night:

The only chance that I can ever get over this will be if I can do it again

Just to remind you before I make my next point, that some of the most challenging obstacles you can put in front of someone with a brain injury are;

  • Busy and crowded environments
  • Noisy places
  • Anything that involves planning or organising.
  • Unfamiliarity

And these are the challenges I face, and used to avoid, every day of my life. However, it’s for these reasons, and the reasons stated above about facing your fears head on, that I have decided to represent my university, the third best nursing university in the country, at a national event in Westminster Abbey next month on my larry.

I’ll travel to London on my own. It will be the first time I have even been on public transport in 6 years. Thanks PTSD 🙂

At first I declined the offer, owing to the fact that it would be too tiring for me to travel up there, see the whole day through and travel back in the same day. After the decline,  the dean of my university raised funds in order for me to stay overnight in London as she was keen for me to represent them at the event, which is a pretty big deal by all accounts.

I don’t talk about my business. I don’t care what people think of me. I’m writing this for you head injury sufferers.

I truly believe I have found something, the key to what so many neurologists and surgeons around the country cannot find. It’s the closest thing to a ‘cure’ you’re going to get. Whatever you’re ‘major’ or ‘leading’ symptom(s) is/are.. face it to the extreme. it’s terrifying and no one will understand your fear, but put yourself through hell, then see what happens.

Oh, you’re not as bad as me. I had a worse injury

I don’t blame you for thinking this. But please remember:

I had a GCS of 5 at one point.

The hell of post traumatic amnesia lasted 3-4 weeks, the ‘severe’ end of the spectrum.

I have damage to many cranial nerves and the effects of sepsis have made a lasting impression on my liver.

PTSD

DAI

..Post-concussional syndrome, the lot. 

If I saw Jayne Cummings and went up to her and squeaked her arm, her reaction to me, and probably you, would be unknown.

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Ultimately, I have an opportunity. Everything that is almost impossible for me rolled up into one. I can easily say no. But, like becoming a nurse, I’ll die before I say no.

 

 

Becky’s boyfriend

I know when I’m pushing the limits of my brain too far when, as I’m sat on the computer writing this essay, the lines of the words written in front of me start to blur into one. My stomach starts rumbling, and a wave of nausea hits me as hard as a nurse hits their neighbour for waking them up during the day if they’re working night shifts.

When I stood up to increase the caffeine intake,  I was unsteady on my feet as I walked to the fridge to get the milk.

Then came the marvellous pangs of lightening on either side of my temples.

Time to eat I reckon’ my Holmes-like intuition told me.  My swallowing gets tricky when I get like this, so I just made one of my protein shakes instead of bothering with actual food.

I decided to call it a day. I lied in the dark, ate some food and headed off to pound some iron at the gym. When I went into boots afterwards, it hit me once again. I swayed as I stood in the cue, lightening was either side of my head. I spoke to the cashier and sounded like Chris Eubank on one of those dodgy Nescafe adverts he used to do.

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The lisp and the swallowing is to do with cranial nerve damage, not the actual brain

It’s no drama. If I let these feelings scare me (like I used to) I wouldn’t be able to have a life, just like I didn’t for about 3 years when I was too scared to even leave the house, let alone study to be a children’s nurse. I like it now. I see it as a challenge. I can’t lose then because a challenge is what floats my boat.

My way of dealing with it, as with anxiety, is basically by turning around and saying (in my mind) ‘give me your worst. Will it kill me? No. even if it did, I’m knackered so an eternal sleep wouldn’t be the worst thing on the agenda. I’m not bothered. I’m bored’. I also laugh at absolutely everything and take nothing seriously.

My mentality does not hold fear. I’ve had to be this way since the injury, and now It has just taken over who I am. Thats why I don’t get embarrassed.

This really is an everyday thing for me, I just felt like writing it today. This is nothing different to the millions of TBI sufferers out there and what they have to live with everyday. I’m so lucky to be in my position; I can walk wash, clean myself, live in the present.. what else is there?

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On the way back, driving through Westbourne, I decided to pull into the bus lane and give some money to a homeless guy I saw in the street. It was freezing and today was ‘payday’.

I was with Reese the other day, and I’ve got her into the habit of taking money and giving it to homeless people herself. I’ve explained why we should do this, and sometimes she even asks to do it, which makes me very happy to be alive.

I always talk to these guys, I always get into really good conversations with them. They’re the same as me, my family, my friends, I don’t understand why people wouldn’t want to talk to them. Especially seeing them lying in the street with only a duvet to keep them warm.

Oh, wait, sorry, no you’re right. They’re on drugs and alcohol.

Sidenote:

That answer is the reason there will always be terrorists in the world.

Meditate over that one.

I trotted over and sat next to him. These people must see me coming and think

Shit, it’s HIM. He’s worse than bloody Jehova’s. 

I asked him what lead him to sleep rough. He told me about his girlfriend who also sleeps rough.

‘Her name isn’t Becky is it?’ I asked

‘Yes, how did you know that?’ he said.

You might remember two blogs ago when I spoke about a similar experience with a young girl I met in a similar scenario. Well it turns out, that was his bird.

After I left, I realised that my damaged brain had totally forgotten something.

I carried on driving until I got home, collected a kick-ass hoody that I no longer wear, drove back to the street, pulled back into the bus lane and approached my new mate, Chris, who was still sat in the same place I’d left him.

‘Fancy this hoody?’ I said.

‘Yes definitely!’ he was really pleased. It was only when I put it on him did I realise that I needed to have a picture with him.

‘Mate. That hoody looks shit-hot on you. I’m gonna need a selfie’ I said, enviously. And probably through gritted teeth. It did look better on him than it did me. 

And the rest is history. If you go to Westbourne and see homeless people sat around looking fly AF wearing  ‘university of Southampton’ hoodies, a couple of smart cardigans and this bad-boy hoody below, you’ll know why. I’ve got about 8/9 bloody hoodies anyway, he’s doing me a favour.

 

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P.s I felt rough AF here, that’s why I look so wrinkle-eyed.

Don’t hate the numpty hate the game. 

You may have noticed I’ve been quiet on the blog front lately. I’ve been snowed under with our final year project (7000 words) and I, like many others, am struggling with it! At least I’m not the only one though. Everyone is finding it tough.

Having said that, everyone has similar problems. Except I can’t talk to anyone about MY problems, they’re completely different. Not worse, just different.

I wrote the same fact three times in my essay yesterday. I forgot I’d already written it, and went through the trouble of finding a new reference each time. Three times. What a numpty.

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It’s business now, nothing more

I’ve worked hard to change many of my approaches to the challenges in my life. For example: recently I was able to sit down with my soon to be ex wife and sit on all the information I know (that she doesn’t know that I know) and remain smiling and being professional for the sake of my daughter.

What do you know?

I’m too tired for anything. It is lonely and unfulfilling, but I can barely keep up with this course let alone have friends or anything. Plus I’m super paranoid. Here’s one for you, you’ll like this. I’m smiling as I write it!

So yeah yeah blah blah you’re a bit isolated, get over yourself 

Fair one

Mind you, if I do ever let a lady friend get close enough to me that I can feel like she can stay the night, I’ll need to make sure the blue pills are in stock. Let me tell you, that got me down for a long time! You see, when you have a severe head injury, sometimes you’re too tired even for things you really don’t want to be too tired for. Like rocking the casbah.

That’s not very Christian Grey

And women take that shit so personally. I mean really, how do you think us brain injureds feel? I was destroyed as it happened more and more, but if it happens now I tend not to waste much time on it. Decent people will try to understand anyway. Yet to meet any yet though, stay posted.

It’s a bit taboo and people with head injuries don’t really tend to talk about it much. Granted, it’s not the best thing to have to worry about for a 27 year old, but at least I didn’t lose it in the accident. But don’t worry, even I know I’d be stupid to advertise this floppy fact to the world.

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Forget the blue pills, It takes a certain type of idiot to refuse a girl to stay overnight at their flat because they’re so wary and paranoid of people. Another TBI daisy.

I started my nursing journey 6 years ago. But for the second time I am reading excited status updates like ‘I just landed my dream job in A+E so excited!’.. they’re everywhere!

It’s a bit soul destroying

But I feel genuine happiness for my friends. In fact I really am over the moon and It’s amazing to have watched their journey over the last few years. They’re truly lovely people and they deserve it. It’s just hard to take, especially for the second time round. But I’ll get over that.

Oops

If i’m lucky I will graduate in July 2018, 7 months after my peers. Over a year away. Again, I’m not moaning.  I am blessed and so fortunate to be in my position and I count myself to be a very lucky and grateful person.

I can deal with all that. I just need to write sometimes.

There were so many times that I really doubted if I could do it, times where I found myself needing to leave work to come home 2-3 times a week. But just like back then, I made a plan. I switched things up. So thats what I’ll do now. And I’ll do it knowing what I’ve known all along.

I’m happy to be the clown, the numpty, the tired one who has weird issues that you laugh or about or feel too embarrassed to talk about.

I’m content with any opinion of me, I quite like when people dislike me or my ‘methods’. But yes, I am a clown that squeaks when I walk. I purposely fall over in public to make people laugh, I enjoy it that.

I also have a curse. I have issues in my life that will never be understood. Not by anyone. no one so far has even come remotely close (apart from at first when it’s all like ‘OMG you’re an inspiration babe!’) But it’s all great. The truth can only be known, not spoken. If you start to speak it, it automatically becomes a lie (Osho 1980).

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Becky 

So I’m leaving my parent’s house to come home this evening. This is easily the coldest night of the year.
I’m driving back home and through Westbourne high street. I’m skint, and only recently my dad was helping me out with budgeting. We agreed I spend too much money on homeless people!

He is right. A tennner each time is too much for someone who can’t even work full time.

As I am driving through the high street I notice a homeless girl in the street.

She must be freezing her tits off

Long story short, I drove home and found as many hoodies as I could that I don’t really wear and headed back out to wrap up the homeless girl. I stopped for a chat. Her name is Becky.

She told me how it’s easy for people to judge her and often not hand over even a measly £1 for fear of her spending it on drugs.

Then I got onto my high horse. 

I said:

People don’t hand in £50 every month from their salary because that’s how much they spend on alcohol. It’s obvious you’re not on an substance but it’s not the point Becky mate. It’s none of their business, once they part with any money it’s not theirs anymore! TBH the only time you’d Catch me sleeping on the streets would be if I’m pissed or on drugs because I’d need it to survive on a night like this. 

I finished off by telling her that these people who turn their noses up wouldn’t last 5 minutes in your shoes. People are cruel to what they fear or don’t understand


Are you one of those who are quick to clutch your bag and walk on when you see someone like Becky?

Could you survive countless nights on the street sober?

I gave her the rest of money that she needed for a bed indoors and got on my way. So now I’m a bit more skint. But guess what? I’m warm. Sorry dad .. I’m weak. But warm.

Crack on

I’m writing this blog knowing that my chicken tikka vindaloo will be here any moment so i I probably won’t finish or post it, but I still fancy a bit of therapy all the same.

Hedgehogs 

I fascinate myself. I am peculiar, I have strange habits and a weird outlook on everything in life.

People

People, for example. I hate them for the most part. Socialising with them I mean. Like right now for example, it’s just do peopley outside so I hibernate. I’m like a hedgehog (they hibernate don’t they?).

Contradiction

But I’m the most sociable person when I’m out with friends or whatever. Take last summer for example, I hardly spent any time in my flat, I was always down the beach or in a bar with someone.

Friends

Thats another thing. As I’ve probably mentioned before, I don’t have many. But in the summer I seem to make loads of them and I’m always feeling sociable and wanting to LIVE like there’s no tomorrow.

My brain

I have no idea what’s going on up there to be honest. Am I lonely, or am I glad that there is currently no one in my life to disappoint?

Nursing

Is all I want to do. I don’t care about having girlfriend’s or money or socialising every weekend, I’m obsessed with nursing. It is the only thing that has never hurt me, I feel alive when I’m doing it. I hate being at uni and not working, I just want to be working as a nurse.

Reese

Well you know what’s coming. I’m just sad all the time to be honest. I miss her. She had her second belated birthday party the other day, of course I couldn’t go. I wasn’t invited, but even if I was it would have been too weird with my ex wife’s new fella there with his kids. I want so much to have Reese overnight on my own, 4 years and it’s yet to happen.. big sigh!

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The lost

I keep thinking about this guy.

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I’m sad I didn’t get the chance to talk to him one more time. I was sad if a day went by on holiday that I didn’t go to his house to visit him (there must have only been one or two days)!!

Grandad (Jack)

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He died when I was 10, so I hardly knew him. Funnily enough I feel like I do though. Jack, my mum and my dad are the reason the name Whitehead means what it is. It’s a type of strength and respect that can’t be put into words.

Crack on

As always.

I’m scared about this 7000 word project though. Can I do this? I’m not on the home straight or whatever people might think, 3 years all comes down to this.

Conclusion

Writing this short blog has helped a bit. For my last big uni project I need to do what I’ve been doing for the past three years to get me through arduous tasks. Focus on and absorb the pain like the ones mentioned above and use it to get through the next few months.

Loneliness – focus

The lost – determination and energy

Reese – The will to do whatever it takes

My curry – has arrived, so I’m signing off. Ciao.