Londoners’ experiences of life-changing injuries

Simon A

Age at interview: 46

Brief outline: Simon sustained a severe traumatic brain injury and numerous physical injuries after he was knocked down by a car 14 years ago. After his injury he had memory problems, experienced fatigue and his personality changed. He was unable to return to work as a chartered accountant.

Background: Simon is a health and fitness consultant. He is married with three children, aged 19, 21 and 27, and has one grandchild. His ethnic background is White English.

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When he was out running one winter morning, Simon was knocked down by a car. He had a severe traumatic brain injury and nearly every other major bone in his body was broken. His teeth were smashed and his left cornea was partially detached from the retina. 
The paramedics conducted some emergency work at the roadside before flying him by helicopter to hospital. At the hospital, he spent three weeks in an induced coma to minimise the swelling to his brain that may have caused further damage. 
Simon’s wife is a trained nurse, although she was working in insurance at the time of his accident. She took a sabbatical from work to care for him. Simon says this was “physically and psychologically” demanding for her. 
He was unable to walk, so his wife had to lift him into bed or into the bath. Because of his head injury his behaviour was erratic and he describes making unreasonable demands on her, like “waking up in the middle of the night expecting her to cook” for him. 
Several months after discharge Simon started to attend physiotherapy. He learned to walk again by spending about two hours a day in the pool simulating running whilst wearing a buoyancy belt. This increased his self-confidence and helped him to sleep better. 
Because he was unable to return to work he became involved in a programme lead by a community head injury team that helps people find what kind of work they can do after brain injury.
At the time of his injury Simon had a very busy job at an investment bank in the City of London. He thoroughly enjoyed his work, despite being so busy and having to travel a lot, and he had a great memory. 
After his brain injury he noticed that he had memory problems and experienced fatigue. According to Simon, it took 10 years for his personality to come back, which, he says, “is a short time in the context of head injury”. Sometimes people don’t believe that he had a brain injury because his scars are fading and he speaks well. 
Simon does not feel resentful towards the driver who also sustained some injuries and was unable to continue working. He was awarded compensation for his accident and, as a result, does not have any financial worries.
His employers were very supportive. They continued to pay him until it was decided he could not return to work. He was then put on a long-term disability scheme, which is financed by an insurance company. He was also eligible for Disability Living Allowance.
When some of his friends found out about his compensation, they asked to borrow money. He lost contact with some of them when he told them he would not lend them anymore. He finds it difficult to make new friends because he frequently feels tired, which makes it hard to do things.
Simon has a good relationship with his children. They respect him because they’ve seen how he struggled to “rebuild his mental and physical health”. He says that his relationship with his wife 14 years after his brain injury is stronger than ever.



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