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March 11th 2020

Criminal Injuries

Paul’s reflection of early stage recovery following a one punch attack

Paul’s reflection of early stage recovery following a one punch attack

Paul Spence was a victim of an unprovoked attack, which lead to him suffering a serious brain injury (read what happened here).

Paul Spence was a victim of an unprovoked attack, which lead to him suffering a serious brain injury (read what happened here).

Today, Paul is the successful founder of brain injury charity P.A.U.L For Brain, public speaker and an advocate for raising awareness for the cause, bringing us some invaluable insight into much needed conversation surrounding brain injury.

Leaving The Hospital

Paul was still in a daze when he left the hospital.

“I was very much impaired and had limited understanding. At the time though, my insight was minimal, and I thought I was ok. I remember feeling pleased to go home but then I realised home life was very different and I felt lost, confused and vulnerable. My family were given very little information about the recovery journey ahead.”

They had no understanding of how to support someone with an ABI or the challenges it would bring.

Learning To Live with An Acquired Brain Injury

“My family and friends carried me during early recovery. They all tried to make me feel as comfortable as possible and helped with everything, from driving me to appointments, shopping etc. They would walk me to the local shop as I couldn’t leave house alone for 4 months.”

Paul’s partner had to take on household roles and responsibilities as well as sorting out the finances. They couldn’t deal with the legal aspects of Paul’s case on top of his difficult recovery journey and therefore chose to appoint a solicitor to help.

“I had no income as I obviously couldn’t work. My friends kindly organised a collection to help me during those early days. These funds quickly ran out and that’s where the CICA claim really helped. I was given interim payments during my recovery. These payments helped to cover my mortgage, transport costs and general outgoings.

This really took away the headache and stress of financial worry. Something that would not have been good for brain recovery!

During early recovery I was lost, confused and vulnerable. I was very limited to my thinking abilities, emotions and interaction with people.

I would spend my days pacing up and down rubbing my hands together then stare into space for long periods of time. I was a shadow of my former self. This was a very difficult time for my family as they could see the impact of the injury and they were frightened for my future.

I was living in a bubble, knowing something was wrong but didn’t have the mental abilities to see the bigger picture. (If I’m honest, this was a good thing.

My brain injury was safeguarding me. I think it would have crushed me, possibly sent me insane if I could have seen the bigger picture and understand my deficits).”

Average Day in New Life

“My days were very limited, just as I was. I couldn’t leave the house alone for the first 4 months of recovery. My friends would come and take me to the shop or out for dinner. I was tired easily during early recovery, so we had to be careful with how much I was doing. I had a speech therapist come to my house to carry out therapy. I also had weekly appointments with neuro psychology.

Life was VERY different.”

Sadly, despite starting to make steps towards recovery, one of the consequences of my brain injury was depression. But by the second year of recovery I was going out alone and able to return to work, part time, one day a week.

I was going to the gym and taking walks in the countryside which all helped me with my mental health. I had started to feel emotions which was a good sign of repair.

I was still attending my neuro psychology appointments. I was socialising more, going out with my family and friends. I had learnt what situations and environments were good for me and what wasn’t. I had to pace myself and use coping strategies.

Social Life and Relationships

“During early recovery the injury had a huge effect on my social life and all my relationships! The unique understanding of individual relationships was lost!

This is something we all take for granted and it’s a huge part of our identity, we understand the dynamics and this keeps us safe and secure.

I felt no emotion towards anyone. To me, everyone was the same. There was no different measure of bond, trust, love etc. This lack of understanding had a negative impact on relationships.

It left my family feeling very sad and helpless. At the time I had a reduced understanding of people’s needs. This made it even more difficult.

At present day I have good relationships with all my family and friends although they are not the same as pre brain injury. I still struggle with emotion but can thankfully feel a diluted version now.

It’s taken a long time for my family/friends and I to understand this “new Paul” and how it affects our relationships. It works, just differently.

My social life has improved massively during my recovery. I did very little during the early days but as time went on, I adapted, learnt my new boundaries, formed new relationships and enjoy a good variety of social activities.”

There was very limited support in the community for Paul. Paul explains there was nothing there that made any real difference to him or his family during Paul’s recovery at the time.

Looking back and seeing how far you’ve come from the Paul that left the hospital that day to Paul now, how has the experience changed you?

“The injury meant that I lost part of my identity I would never get back. The old Paul was gone forever. Family have grieved for a person that was still here but just not the same. I had to learn to accept my loss, adapt to my new function and learn to love myself again.

All of the subsequent challenges during recovery (there were plenty) including the loss of my career as an electrical engineer have certainly made me more resilient! Although I have my deficits, I would say I’m stronger, fitter and wiser for all the experiences.

I found purpose with P.A.U.L For Brain Recovery which enriched my recovery. I am different but no less, I have a new potential to reach, I’m heading there!”.

Paul has managed to make the best out of his circumstances, persevering through his challenges and coming out stronger than ever.

He has set up his own charity which now helps to support victims suffering from brain injury. From public speaking to international marathon running, Paul has had an exceptional journey that can inspire many of us, and most importantly help someone else going through the same circumstances.

Whether it’s you, your family member, partner, friend or someone you know letting them know help is available can be life changing.

If you would like to find out more about Paul’s charity P.A.U.L For Brain and the help available there click here.

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