Campbell and Lucy's story

To start from the beginning, our story started 8 years ago where we met as two young, fun loving Club 18-30 reps. One from Essex, one from (the posh part of) Glasgow. Who would've thought 6 years later, we would still be together and I would be saying "yes" to Campbell who was bending down in front of me on one knee in front of my whole family (I still can't believe he did that!). And just 3 weeks after that moment, would be the night that changed our lives.

Campbell had planned to go for a couple of drinks with his work colleagues on Friday 28th June 2013. A couple turned into a few (we've all been there) and long story short, mainly because I don't know what actually happened, Campbell fell 25 feet in the City of London landing first on his left knee and then on his head.

I just scraped a C in Science, so please excuse the lack of medical terminology, but Campbell basically broke the left side of his face, demolished his left knee cap, was in a coma and oh yeah, apparently sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury. Anyone that has been through this, as soon as you hear the words "brain injury" mentioned, it is pretty much at that stage that your world falls apart. However, saying that, I was still convinced that I would be taking Campbell home from hospital in a couple of days! How naive I was!

Campbell was in a coma for around 3 weeks. At least I think it was, I still thought he was in a coma about 2 months afterwards but was told that he had come out of that a number of weeks ago! I think the whole shock of everything slightly skewed my knowledge.

He was at the Royal London (who were brilliant by the way) initially for the first 3 months, then got a place at the Regional Rehabilitation Unit at Northwick Park Hospital for 6 months.
When I look back now, I genuinely don't know how I made it through this 6 months. Campbell was really not very well. He was in the "Low State of Awareness" stage at this point, I think they call it "emerging".

What this means in normal terms is that Campbell couldn't talk, walk, eat, go to the toilet for himself and apparently had turned into an angry, abusive and aggressive person that I did not recognise. That was one of the hardest things to deal with I think. I lost track of the amount of times I apologised to the staff at the RRU for things that Campbell had said to them. I constantly found myself saying "I promise he wasn't like that before". The staff know as this is so common with his type of injury but you still feel you need to defend them!

At the point of Campbell leaving Northwick Park he was finally beginning to make progress (it wasn't looking good for a while). His next stop was at an intensive rehab unit called Blackheath Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit.

Not only was this a good placement for him, but it was also closer to me. Upminster to Northwick Park is not a nice journey every day, particularly when you are working full time (how did I do it?!).
Blackheath worked wonders for Campbell and he soon learnt to walk and eat for himself and was improving all the time, with the help of the therapists. It was here that he was allowed his first trip out to Greenwich Park. It lasted about 10 minutes due to his attention span and I'm pretty sure he got angry at a few pigeons but it was the best 10 minutes of my life. The anger and abusive behaviour was still there at Blackheath and memory and cognition were definitely still his main issues but he was making improvements in all of these areas.

After 7 months at Blackheath and a lot of hard work, the next stop was Marillac. This is a slow stream unit based in Brentwood, Essex and most importantly, only about a 15 minute drive from my house! Campbell arrived there on 17th July 2014 (day after my 30th birthday) and this is where he will be staying until he eventually comes home. Therapy sessions are hugely reduced here but the main positive is that Campbell gets to come home for dinner every night and recently he has been coming home to stay for weekends.

Don't get me wrong, it is not all plain sailing, he still has aggressive outbursts (mainly at my "obese cat") and I swear he thinks I am a walking encyclopaedia with the amount of questions he asks me. His memory is often a challenge as well and he asks me the same questions about 300 times a week. That may be a slight exaggeration. All that is worth it though, for even 5 minutes of having him at home again.

We still have a long way to go and I still have some goals that I want Campbell to achieve, the main one being getting him back to some form of employment. The main problem at the moment is his lack of insight into his injury which is the fundamental cause to a number of his issues at the moment. I will get him there, trust me when I say that!

The main thing that I can say that has got me through this, be it through family, friends, therapists and Headway, is a support network. I definitely could not have done this without everyone supporting me.

I don't think it is possible to describe what the past year and half has been like. I think my emotions have ranged from guilt, anger, self-pity and jealousy to name a few. But above all, the most important thing is that I kept my sense of humour, I still lived my life by ensuring I still went out and let my hair down with my amazing group of friends and I made sure that I focussed on my work so that my whole life wasn't just about Campbell. I do also think that the Marlborough region of New Zealand has had a huge uplift in profits in their Sauvingnon Blanc following Campbell's accident!

Campbell will be coming home in the New Year where the plan will be for us to hopefully move into our home, which was meant to be the plan last year. It will be tough but I am still lucky that he is here, albeit with a few additions to the old Campbell that I knew.

Bring on our wedding, I am guessing there may be a few tears.

Postscript May 2017

We are pleased to let readers know the happiest of news, Campbell has made a strong recovery and he and Lucy have just got married!  And are honeymooning in France this month:-)  Yes, there were a few tears and much joy.