Londoners’ experiences of life-changing injuries

Kenneth

Male
Age at interview: 52

Brief outline: Kenneth was in New Zealand when he was attacked by a gang who beat him up. He sustained a traumatic brain injury.

Background: Kenneth is a volunteer gardener. Before his traumatic brain injury he ran his own business. He is single and lives alone. Ethnic background' White/Gaelic/Scottish.

Audio & video

Kenneth was born in New Zealand. He moved to London in the 1980’s and later developed and ran his own clothing business, starting online and then opening a shop. 
 
In 2007, he returned to New Zealand to visit his mum who had a heart attack. While he was there he was seriously assaulted by a gang and sustained a traumatic brain injury. He spent several days in a coma. 
 
When he came round from the coma, he went into rehabilitation to help him overcome the difficulties he had following his injury. He had problems walking, balancing, talking and remembering, and experienced severe fatigue.
 
Kenneth was unable to return to work following his injury because he would be “falling apart” if he had to do a 40 – 60 hour week. He manages a three day week now as a volunteer gardener. 
 
He thinks that being unable to go back to work is one of the factors that lead to social isolation problems for survivors of brain injury, because when you lose a job “people don’t have the same reason to keep in contact with you”. He feels people have “a natural fear” of things they don’t know much about, like brain injury, and that survivors are stereotyped as “mad” or that they’ve “got anger management issues”. 
 
Kenneth does not like socialising because it involves “being in a room full of loads of people” who are “drinking and bumping into you”. He also finds being on the tube difficult because there’s “too much movement, too much noise”. 
 
A psychologist once told Kenneth that living with brain injury is like a game of snakes and ladders. He thinks this is a good analogy and wants other survivors to know that “there’s a lot of ladders there to climb up slowly, but be careful because if you push too hard, you’re going to come flying down one of the snakes.” He also said, “You get used to it (brain injury) and things do improve ever so slowly”. 

 

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