Sam Mason (pictured left) who suffered a serious life-threatening brain injury after tripping over and falling backwards on his head in 2018 is so grateful to support he has received from Headway Thames Valley based at Brunner Hall on Greys Road in Henley. He recently presented a cheque of £1500 to the charity from his local Freemason lodge.
Sam’s life changed in a second when he fell. Prior to that he lived a fairly normal life, married to his wife Grace, working as an assistant Quantity Surveyor with a good social life and hobbies. He said, “On a night out to celebrate our new house and my wife returning from a month’s holiday, my friends challenged me to race back to the car. I saw Grace ahead and realised I was racing her too. As I got closer to her I decided to spin on the spot to turn and gloat that I was beating her in a race she was unaware of, and as I did I tripped and fell backwards, my head hitting the floor first. I am still unclear about what happened next, but as I understand we went to A & E, who told me I was likely mildly concussed, to go home and come back if there were any further problems. The next morning we called 111 as I had no hearing in one ear and was getting quite hot, they said I’ll be OK too. That night Grace called them again as she could tell something was wrong. We went to the local A&E department where I was given a CT scan of my brain, and promptly moved from the waiting area to majors. We were given the news that there was significant damage to my brain and I was transferred to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford by the following afternoon.”
A few days later Sam was put into a coma for a week and when he woke he discovered he was missing the front part of his skull from eyebrow to the top of his head and ear to ear. Sam said, “I remember being very angry while in hospital which I was in for around 9 weeks. The anger was strange as it was anger no matter what feeling it should have been e.g. sadness, happiness etc. The injury at first affected my ability to walk as it was affecting my balance and I had lost a lot of muscle. My psychology was also affected to the point I wanted to go up to the roof and jump. I received really good physiotherapy from the John Radcliffe Hospital and Royal Berkshire Hospital, and also psychotherapy through CBNRT who, respectively, helped me to walk again and cope with all the pessimistic and horrible thoughts.”
Sam was then referred to Headway Thames Valley in Henley who support people living with brain injury. Sam commented, “This group along with the amazing Headway Thames Valley team, some of whom have sustained brain injury themselves such as the Manager, Jamie. Bob, an Occupational Therapist who has specialised in brain injury for over 30 years, was the most incredible person for me to help get back to normal, not just because of all the advice and activities presented by them but also by knowing and befriending others in a similar state to me. It was that point which I no longer felt alone in the world, that I wasn’t the only one going through this, and actually there are some people worse off than me.”
Sam has now had a new titanium skull fitted and through a personal trainer is physically stronger than he was before the accident and has returned to his old job. He has also rekindled his relationships with friends after realising he wasn’t communicating with them properly. He said, “My advice from my own experience to people that know someone with brain injury, is just stay in contact with them and basically treat them as normal and help spread the understanding of brain injury as Headway Thames Valley are doing. And to the people living with brain injury, stay positive. I can’t think of anything better to advise than that, but from my experience I promise it’s not all dark clouds. A massive thanks to everyone at Headway Thames Valley for what you have done for me. You will forever hold a place in my heart (and head) and I will continue to feel good and for as long as I am, I will raise money to help you aid others as well as you have done for me!”
For more information about Headway Thames Valley go their website at http://headwaythamesvalley.org.uk/