Londoners’ experiences of life-changing injuries


Age at interview: 30

Brief outline: Wesley had a traumatic brain injury about 12 years ago. He fell off a moped when he was on holiday in Turkey. He was in a coma for several months and when he came round, spent time in a rehabilitation unit. He now has some memory problems.

Background: Wesley is single. He was living with his mum at the time of the interview, but was in the process of looking for a new place. He works as a dustman. His ethnic background is White English.

Audio & video

Just before he turned 18, Wesley fell off a moped whilst on holiday in Turkey and had a severe brain injury. 
After four months in a coma, he spent several months as a patient in a rehabilitation unit working with physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, and clinical psychologists. 
When he was discharged, Wesley was given a file describing the problems caused by his injury. However, this was written in language that was difficult to understand. 
Wesley describes having a brain injury as like being reborn because “you’ve got to learn to do nearly everything again”, like “walk, talk and go to the toilet”. Whilst Wesley can do all these things again he still has some problems with coordination, remembering things and he often feels tired. 
There are certain things he no longer does. For example, he used to be a dancer, but his memory and coordination problems made this difficult. He videoed his choreography to help him practice at home and remember the steps, but in the end he decided to stop dancing. 
Although he could not return to work Wesley has been able to find a job with the help of his psychologist, who arranged for him to do some unpaid work at a supermarket where he eventually became employed. He now works as a dustman.
Wesley enjoys going out with his friends. He has been told not to drink a lot of alcohol because his brain injury increases the effects it has on him. His friends say he behaves aggressively when he’s drunk. It’s hard for Wesley to take them seriously because they get drunk too. 
The local council gave him a Freedom Pass, which he can use to travel free of charge on public transport around London. He thinks this is a good idea, but would have preferred to be given money that he could use to pay his hospital bills from the treatment he received in Turkey that was not covered by his travel insurance. 
Wesley’s mum and sister are the people he turns to for information. He chooses not to join a support group because he thinks he should learn about his own problems and not have to rely on a support group for help.



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