“I didn’t recognised the girl who I was living with or my family. It was terrifying”.
When Gavin Smith awoke from his coma, he didn’t recognise his girlfriend, his friends or family and didn’t realised he’d been in hospital for 3 months.
Gavin, 49, had sustained a traumatic brain injury while riding home from his job as a motorbike mechanic in London.
Recalling the accident, Gavin said: “I was a 27-year-old, living in London at the time and worked as a bike mechanic. I was riding home from work one day on my big Suzuki, when a car that was driving on the wrong side of the road crashed into me. I was flipped over the top of the car and landed on my head. I woke up in hospital 3 months later with a paralyzed left side. I didn’t recognised the girl who I was living with or my family. It was terrifying”.
After suffering from a traumatic brain injury, Gavin has with long-lasting effects. The biggest impact on him is the hidden effects of brain injury.
“My short-term memory is good and my long-term memory is good, but it’s my working memory that’s not good. I’ll walk into a room and forget why I’m there, or I’ll say I’m going to do something and forget to do it. This has caused countless issues with people who are close to me and friendships have been damaged and made trickier over the years”.
“Perception is yours to change. I’ve come to accept that this is me now and I am lucky to still be here”.
Day-too-day life has completely changed in every aspect. He could no longer return to work. He tries to do voluntary work, but Gavin suffers from fatigue, as well as learning and sticking to a new routine has proved challenging. Gavin spends his time gardening and taking his dog for walks.
Gavin said: “I struggled to come to terms with what had happened to me for 20 years. I’ve come to the realisation of everything looks better with a change of perceptacles. Perception is yours to change. I’ve come to accept now that this is me now and I am lucky to still be here”.
Now, Gavin attends Headway Oxfordshire one a week. They help with support and guidance and give Gavin motivation to use the specialist neuro-gym. With Covid-19, some of that has just not been possible but he looks forward to being able to do that again.