‘It felt like my world had fallen apart’ – Former RAF serviceman on stroke struggle
- Credit: HEADWAY SUFFOLK
A former RAF serviceman from Bury St Edmunds has opened up on his health and employment struggles since suffering a stroke.
Peter Brown’s life changed forever after suffering a stroke in March 2012, aged 54.
The hard-working father of two was watching TV at home when he began to feel strange – little did he know the next thing he would remember would be waking up at Addenbrooke’s Hospital to the news he had suffered a stroke.
After six years in the RAF and a past of working on the railways, the lasting effects on his short-term memory meant he would never work again – while his marriage would later come to an end.
Mr Brown said: “I was sitting watching TV and I had the headache from hell.
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“The next thing I knew I was throwing up violently. I then passed out and woke up in Addenbrooke’s, where I was told that I’d had a stroke.
“I had to give up work. When you’re filling in job forms and say you have had a stroke and have memory problems at this age, they go ‘Next. Give us a young man we can mould.’
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“And then my marriage ended. It felt like my world had fallen apart. I had to adjust to a new life.”
The now 62-year-old continues to have difficulties with his short-term memory but lives independently thanks to the support of Headway Suffolk, who encourage Peter to use a diary to remind him of daily tasks such as writing shopping lists, when to hoover and when to eat.
Mr Brown added: “I really appreciate what Headway do. It’s not until you have an injury or a problem that you realise there is support like Headway out there.
“You’ve always got to have a positive outlook and do your best. I’ve still got my mobility, which could have gone if I’d had my stroke in the wrong place or it had gone on for longer.”
Stroke is the second most common cause of an acquired brain injury in Suffolk at 37%, with 1,215 people admitted to hospital locally each year.
A study released as part of Brain Injury Week found that 70% of brain injury survivors struggle to recall personal memories such as their wedding or children’s birthdays, while 71% feel unfairly judged as a result of their memory problems.
Helen Fairweather, chief executive of Headway Suffolk, said: “It’s clear that there is a lack of understanding about the challenges memory loss can present for brain injury survivors and their loved ones.
“It is a matter of real concern that so many brain injury survivors have told us that memory problems have had a profound and negative impact on their lives.”