Re building my life after a traumatic brain injury

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Hello, My name is Harry Hayward; In November 2015 I was assaulted in an unprovoked violent attack in Antigua whilst walking home.  I was working as a professional diver and co opening a brand new dive facility in Antigua and only into my third week on the Island. Before this I had worked in the Middle East (Israel and Egypt) for over twenty years.

I suffered a massive head injury causing a large left sided extradural hematoma (TBI) and was very aware of the fact that I was being told I was going to be dead in 20 minutes if they did not find the neurosurgeon on the Island. My right arm had already stopped working but I was not aware of any significant pain at this time or the fact that my brain was being crushed by my own blood.

My life was saved thanks to a wonderful surgeon and very good timing and luck that he was in residence;  I have been left with a large hole in my skull and a permanent fracture all around the skull leading to a very difficult and lonely recovery including chronic tinnitus which in and of itself has ruined my life.

After 3.5 years I have just had a cranioplasty to fit a titanium plate and as of today, 25/09/19 I am twelve days out from surgery with no complications but a bigger scar which I wear with pride and a very sore head. I have been told it will get and feel better than it does, I hope so.

For the last 3.5 years I have been working part time cleaning B&B's and generally getting my health back in order.  This has been very difficult with many emotional and psychological setbacks. I still have had no access to any kind of psychological treatment whatsoever but manage all of that through exercise, namely running every day. Of course that doesn't work with severe cases so have ended up very isolated with no treatment or means to pay for it whatsoever. That means I can't move on and all I want to do is put the past behind me.

When I came out of IC I couldn't walk properly and over the course of a year I started to get used to the floating feeling. At the beginning I was scared to step of a curb in case I hurt my brain again, very slowly though I started to do long walks.

I live with complex PTSD, chronic tinnitus and struggle with loneliness and frustration but I am determined to get back to some form of life and maybe in the future a gf or just not being so lonely.

I still owe over $20,000 in fees for my life saving surgery but was lucky to have had my titanium plate fitted in the UK.

In all honesty I feel rather uncomfortable with this approach to raising funds to move forward. The reality however is that with what I earn I am never going to do that and will continue waiting for psychological treatments that will never ever happen due to such massive waiting lists in the UK. Below are two pictures showing what happened to me. My first scar from emergency surgery and my most recent from the cranioplasty which I am very slowly getting used to although so far it feels like I have a lot of tension in my head; I'm sure it will pass.

Traumatic brain injuries can vary greatly; one person can have very obvious deficits, another's can be very subtle. That is why they call it the invisible injury. Many people will look at someone post TBI and think that they are completely normal as they look and act normally, having no clue whatsoever as to the level of anguish, fear, pure terror and a feeling of separation that they go through, let alone the very subtle differences there are to self identity. Confidence and feeling worthy again are other great obstacles that need to be overcome and this is in my case done by getting up every day and trying to make it better than the last.

During the last three and a half years I have had problems accessing food at least once a month which leads to periods (days) of starvation. Currently I struggle  with no gas and often go without hot water and heating as a consequence. Electricity has also been a constant struggle and on many occasions I have to choose between electric and food. I want more than anything to contribute to society again,  to be useful, to raise a family and find happiness. 

I do desperately need some form of treatment for my depression and PTSD. I have started to run again (I started off very slowly with a 100 meter jog) and have just finished my first 10k (02/01/20). I'm very proud of this but have compartmental arthritis in my left knee after a total rebuild of an ACL in 2005. I have also developed a bad varicose vein in my right calf so have to keep it tightly bound until I get surgery. Running is my antidote to depression as I refuse to take any meds for it. I will have to switch to cycling from now on but want nothing more than to get back to my career.

Any funds raised would go towards my recovery, seeing a therapist, paying medical costs and maybe a small amount of retraining.

The first picture beloe is directly after life saving surgery in Antigua to evacuate a large left sided extradural hematoma. The second is directly after having my titanium plate fitted. My neurosurgeon was truly wonderful. Thank you Mr. Chelvarajah, your a genius.

Yours sincerely,

Harry J Hayward

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Organizer

Harry J Hayward 
Organizer
Stratford-Upon-Avon, West Midlands, United Kingdom
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