How Headway Derby helped me

Mike’s story

Mike at Trentham sculpture gardenMike’s story begins in 1999. At the time Mike was a successful Aero-Engineer working for Roll-Royce. Mike’s life was to significantly change as a result of a serious road traffic accident.  On the day of the accident Mike was riding a motorbike involved in a head-on collision with an oncoming car at Swarkestone Bridge, Derbyshire.

Fortunately, the cars travelling behind contained an off duty Paramedic and Nurse who were able to offer immediate assistance.

Mike was rushed to the Accident & Emergency department at Derby Royal Infirmary (DRI).  Upon arrival at the DRI Mike’s head injuries were considered to be so severe that a transfer to the specialist neurology unit at Nottingham’s Queens Medical Centre was immediately organised.

Mike was a young, athletic man with a passion for cars, motorbikes the territorial army and martial arts.  Many healthcare professionals thought that his fitness at the time played a big part in his ability to survive the horrific head injuries he sustained.

As a result of the accident Mike lost the use of his right eye and had a series of reconstructive  operations  each of which required a stay in Intensive Care. Following the completion of reconstructive surgery Mike was referred onto the NHS Head Injury in Derby who introduced him to a range of people who themselves were coming to terms with the affects of traumatic brain injury.

The NHS Head Injury team in Derby has a long standing relationship with Headway and many of the people Mike met in the early days of his recovery went on to become life-long friends as they progressed from NHS services onto Headway Derby services.

From the outset of his time with Headway Mike benefitted from the opportunity to work with a team of people who understood what he was going through.  The opportunity to receive support and advice from staff experienced in brain injury was a constant source of encouragement and reassurance on the life-changing journey to slowly rebuild his life. Mike also benefitted from the love and support of family and a close group of friends, one of whom would become his wife!

Angie and Mike had previously met in Derby on a night out and after the accident Angie went to visit Mike in hospital.  Mike’s positive energy and desire to get on with life made quite an impact on Angie who began to regularly write to Mike from her home in Lancashire.  One thing led to another and it was clear that Mike and Angie had special connection. They subsequently married in Derby in 2002!

By that time Mike had made a remarkable recovery and had returned to work at Rolls-Royce.  To help make this possible Rolls-Royce provided flexible working conditions which allowed Mike to avoid shift patterns which would adversely affect his recovery. Such flexibility also allowed Mike to continue to receive support from Headway at times which suited him.

But this was not all Mike and Angie achieved. Always a couple with a determination to look forward in life they decided to try for a baby and were blessed with the arrival of a baby boy, who they named Jed, in 2005.
Life has not always been easy for Mike and Angie and an unfortunate side effect of Mike’s head injury means that he is now more susceptible to meningitis. After contracting mengitis in 2009 Mike  was forced to retire from work on medical grounds. This was a significant set back for Mike and his family. To help aid his recovery Mike received intensive support from our Outreach Service to help rebuild the life skills needed to function each day.

Since sustaining his original head injury over ten years ago Mike and Angie feel that Headway Derby has provided a consistent source of support and encouragement.  As Angie explains ‘we are a positive family, and we’ve been through more in ten years than some families go through in twenty-five years. As a wife and carer I know I can relax when Mike is at Headway – its so reassuring’.

Mike feels like the support offered by Headway allowed him to boost his independence and build new confidence to live with a head injury.  Mike would encourage anyone thinking about using Headway Derby  to  ‘just go and try it out’.