TBI One Love Survivor Nick Driscoll
Hello, my name is Nick Discoll. ''In one moment, my life was good. I had a job, a close circle of friends, respect for myself and money in my pocket. I had spent 35 years from birth, developing, growing, creating and getting to know myself. I was a good person and my life was GOOD''
''In the another moment, my life was turned upside down. Nothing made sense anymore. I reacted to everyday things, in a way, that I believed was the usual way, but the results were completely different. In a very short space of time, I lost everything, including my mind''
''It was like I was abducted by aliens, and dropped to another planet where everything looked the same, but everything was somehow different now''.
On the evening of April 13th 2010, I was playing guitar and singing with friends in a Shropshire bar. It was a normal night out for us. Just a bit of fun. A few drinks, good conversation and lots of laughter. Nothing untowards happening. Just a group of friends on a night out, having good, clean fun.
From this point, I have no memory of the next four weeks, but this is what I am told prevailed.Suddenly, out of nowhere, a stranger walked up and punched me. Hard. For what reason, I am still unaware of to this today.
The force of the blow sent me tumbling backwards to the ground. I hit my head, hard on the concrete below, and was unconscious for an undetermind amount of time. It was a single savage punch – but it changed my life forever.
An ambulance and the police were called, but I apparently, refused them both as I felt OK in this moment. But as my unrealised injuries unfolded, I was eventually rushed to Princess Royal Hospital in Telford.
The doctors at A&E kept me in for a few hours, but wrongly presumed that the reason for my strange behaviour was that I had been drinking and made the decision to discharge me.
I apparently took a taxi to my mothers house, where I slept solid for 36 hours. When I woke, I returned home and was joined by my friend Jo. Within an hour or so, told me that not making sense, and was I talking, in her words, ''complete shite''. My family were called and I was rushed back into hospital.
My hospital notes show that I was unaware of my previous visit to this hospital the night before, and they subsequently gave me a CT scan, which revealed 2 brain heamorages, a fractured skull and cheek bone, increased pressure and swelling on my brain.
The hospital kept me in for 5 days, checking my vitals at regular intervals. They eventually discharged me, with the stipulation that I stayed with a family member. I returned to my mothers where I stayed for a few weeks.
The affects on my short-term memory, cognitive functions and emotional control, were devastating to my life. Due to the nature of TBI, I was unaware and completely oblivious to my symptoms. I would quickly forget everything that would, to a normal person, persuade them that something was terribly wrong.
Over the following months I lost my job, my friends, my home and my children didnt want to spend time with me anymore. I constantly tried to find solutions, but nothing i did seemed to work and inevitably, my life spiralled out of my control.
I quickly became isolated from the world, was extremely lonely, lived in constant fear and was later diagnosed with severe PTSD. Even though I had no memory of the night in question, I was still scared of my own shadow and because I did not know who did this to me, i was in constant fight or flight mode, in case they saw me in the street, and decided to finish what they started.
I went to my doctor on several occassions begging for help and tried to explain what was happening to me, and was told that I was just getting old and this is what happens. After a couple of years of this new life, my world spiralling out of control and recognition, a deep depression set in.
«What was the point of carrying on. I don't know what the F**K is happening to me, I can not change anything in my life, there is no help available. The hardest thing of all was……………»
«NO BODY UNDERSTOOD ME»
It was like I was talking a foriegn language. I didnt really understand it myself. So in retrospect, how could anyone else?
Luckily for me I am a stubborn and determined character. This character trait may have bitten me on the arse in the past, but on this occassion was my saving grace. Even in my darkest of hours, there was something inside me, driving me forward. My deep seated need to solve the puzzle, combined with a strange knowing that I can beat this (whatever this is), helped me scrape through by the skin of my teeth. Only just mind.
Some snippets from an interview with a journalist:
“I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t do what I was doing before,” says Nick, who ran his own successful heating and ventilation businesses.
“I’d got lost in the medical system so any follow-up appointments or diagnosis ever materialized.
“I tried to work but when you can’t remember what people have said to you, you appear incompetent and stupid. This in addition to losing my cognitive abilities, eventually led to me becoming unemployable.''
“People told me I kept repeating myself. I’d arrive in the office and say ‘'we’ve got to do this, this and this'’ and then the next day it would be like I’d never spoken to them because I’d say it all again.
“The information was lodged in my long-term memory but, when it came to my short term memory, I was like 10-second Tom from the film 50 First Dates, I would forget my previous requests but remembered we had to get them done”
“I felt like it was all falling apart,” explains the dad, whose children are 12, 10 and eight.
“As a result I became even more severely depressed.
“It got to the point where I couldn’t do a full day’s work because of fatigue. I would lose the plot when my fatigue was at a high level. Not being able to understand what was happening around me or what I needed to do in that moment. Mistake became my middle name
“It was difficult for my children. I have wonderful children but you can imagine how it felt for them to find that their Daddy had changed in to a completely different person. The old dad and nick was dead and this strange man had took his place. From everything that was happening, this was the most painful thing for me. To see the bewilderment in thier little faces still haunts me today.
Years after the injury, I had become so low, that I no longer left my home.
I stayed in my apartment seven days a week with the curtains closed because I didn’t want to go outside. This world was not safe. I would drink heavily to numb the pain I felt.
I kept having dreams where I was helpless and could not escape, which really affected my sleep. Spiralling my fatigue to new depths.
Eventually, after 4 years I could take no more of the prisonous hell that had become my life. I truly believed that the world, and the people around me, would be better off without this peice of shit that I had evolved into.
Following a failed suicide attempt in 2012, my family realised the severity and extent of my injuries, the depth of my subsequent trauma, and insisted I got help. Social services got involved, and I was finally referred to West Park Neuro Rehabilitation Hospital in Wolverhampton, for brain injury rehabilitation.
The angel that are WEST PARK employees, quickly got to work on this broken, shell of a man. The specialists told me that I was suffering from severe post traumatic stress, chronic fatigue, severe depression and anxiety, in addition to severe brain damage, based on my length of Post traumatic amnesia, MRI scans and brain function test results. I was also in mourning for the person I used to be, that was by now, a very distant memory.
When they saw the extent of my injury, the symptoms that I presented, my day-to-day lifestyle and the lack of medical help received, they were quite surprised I was still alive.
Over the next 12 months, I had home sessions, weekly appointments with neuropsychiatrists, regular rehabilitation sessions and weekly art classes to help me reintergrate back into society.
For me, education was the perfect place to start. Discovering the ''why'' things were so different, helped my understand that I was not just a mental case, and gave me the foundation for change and provided me with the knowledge of the ''what'', and the ''how'', I needed, in order to fight my way out. No more was I battling with an invisable moster.
My doctors explained ''If your brain was a telephone and you wanted to phone London, you’d ring straight through. My brain would go to Australia then Japan before reaching London to do the same job. This was the reason I was getting so fatigued. My brain was having to working so much harder to process information. In addition my brain had become like an old laptop. The processor was out of date and was running at a very slow speed.
Also I didn’t recognise when I was getting tired, In fact, I didnt know about the fatigue until it was pointed out to me 4 years later. I had just found everything had slowed down and I felt sluggish. Once I understood what was going on, I could do something about it.
I was tested to see which bits of my brain were affected and how badly, and they gave me reports which I read and read a million time, until it encoded enough in to my memory and sank in.
From there, I was able to find coping strategies.
In addition I began to research ways to heal myself. This took me on a journey of meditation, studying NLP, hypnosis as well as many other alternative techniques.
Inspired by all I’d learnt and its tremendous boost on my recovery and mood, I began working for a non-profit organisation, helping other people with mental health issues and trauma's. My primary function was to coach them and help them to return to work after long absenses.
Even though the doctors and specialists had said I would probably never work again, my attitude was F**K that. I will find a way.
I was unable to work eight hours a day anymore because of fatigue and losing the plot. I was however, able to now control and recognise my fatigue, take regular recharge and rest breaks, and therefore I could help people and somehow find purpose and get my life back.
And this I certainly did. Over a 12-month period, I helped more than 100 people get back into work, who were otherwise destined to stay at home.
I quickly realised, which was a new thing for me, that what I was doing, could actually make a big difference to others who were experiencing similar symptoms, and slowly but surely, trained to become a qualified NLP practitioner, transcendental meditation teacher, clinical hypnotherapist and Integral Eye Movement trauma relief therapist in addition to Life Coaching.
In 2014, I started a life coaching company called Gifted Life, based in Birmingham city centre.
“My negative, traumatic life experience had, in fact, given me a wonderful opportunity to share what I had learned, to offer help and provide welcomed support to others”
Over the past 3 years, I have used a combination of techniques, and have successfully helped 1000's of people live a higher quality of life. These ranged from people wanting to get a job or remove a negative behavioural pattern (Habit) to those with phobias, depression, PTSD and brain injuries.
Even though I feel lucky and honoured to have helped these people, I was not able to make enough money to live day to day. I quickly used up my compensation money in my quest to help others, and had to eventually close my business.
What about now?
My priorities are now very different than before my attack. My main focus is quality of life, not the car I drive, the house I live in or what other people think of me. In May 2016, I made the momentus decision to seek employment where i could finally have routine, and some level finacial stability. It had been 6 ½ years since my TBI and my last gainful employment.
“Scared is an Understatement”
In August 2016, I successfully gained employment, with a retail kitchen company, as a Sales Designer. I had performed this type of work 12 years previous and preyed that I still had the back. Although I had a hightened level of fear, based on previous work history since the attack, and realistic concerns because of my fatigue, memeory issues and occassional lack of ability to understand situations, I took my determined and persistant character, focused on developing coping strategies and believed in myself once more.
Just one year later and I have become the top designer instore. Acheiving my sales targets and then some. My feelings of purpose and belonging slowly returned.
For the first time in 7 years, I actually started to like, and dare I say, love myself again. Don't misunderstand, I still have brain injury, memory issues, fatigue etc………………………..
But I'm doing it, I'm really doing it!
I am living my life at a standard and level that i am so very happy with. Its not what is was before my attack, however it is a life I thought would never, ever be possible.
I have a beautiful wife, who cares and supports me, a job i love and am good at, and a life that I am happy to live in (thats a huge statement based on previous years).
I write my story, not for sympathy or condolences, but in the hope that just one person reading this, will find the hope and stregth they need to battle through the darkness and find the life they can live in and finally find their HAPPY.
What may currently seem impossible, is only in our minds. Keep your aim true and within your new abilities…………………………………………..and
YOU CAN MAKE the impossible, POSSIBLE!!!