It was July 2009 and after working a night shift at the family business Joey went to a friend’s house to watch the rugby. Joey had always been a keen rugby player and after watching the game, the group went into town for a few drinks.
Joey was in the wrong place at the wrong time when one of his friends got into an altercation. The aggressor hit out at Joey, unprovoked, leaving him in need of hospital treatment for four facial fractures, three head fractures and a broken nose.
Joey was nearly sent home from hospital that night, until they noticed that he was bleeding from his left ear. This led to the alarming discover that Joey had a haematoma, or blood clot, in his brain. The clot required urgent treatment and Joey had to spend four weeks in hospital before returning home to be cared for by his family.
As a result of the damage that the clot had done to his brain, Joey was left experiencing memory problems, anxiety in big, busy and noisy areas, and tinnitus. Joey also struggled to control his emotions after brain injury. Although he had never been a violent person, Joey found himself feeling frustrated and angry and struggling to cope.
After his injury, Joey’s confidence suffered a real knock. He lost touch with many of his friends and found it difficult to form new relationships with people who weren’t able to understand the effects of his injury.
He didn’t know who to turn to for the first few weeks after his injury and felt like he didn’t know where he was going. Fortunately, Joey decided to get in touch with the Acquired Brain Injury Team who referred him on to Headway Devon.
Joey first came to Headway’s day centre in Exeter in September 2009. Joey was very nervous to begin with about entering this new environment, but one of the staff members met him at the train station and brought him to the centre. After a few weeks Joey felt much more settled and his confidence began to improve as he met new people and made some good friends.
Joey has made an astounding recovery in the years since his injury. As well as feeling more confident and less frustrated, he is now better able to handle his emotions.
For Joey some things have changed forever and he knows he will never play rugby again, but he feels that his life is now back on the right track and he is looking forward to the future. In his own words, “Headway was a massive support and helped me get my life back on track – they helped me get back to where I want to be.”
In September 2011 Joey returned to full-time employment and is now working as a support worker for people with mental health issues. He feels that his brain injury set him back two years of his life and he is now looking forward to applying to university where he hopes to study to become a mental health nurse and further his career.
Joey now volunteers for Headway Devon whenever he is able, where staff and clients are very grateful for his support and his willingness to share his own personal experience for the benefit of others.