Description of Injury Event and Initial Treatment: I was run over on the pavement in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 1 block from our hotel with my girlfriend who died instantly. I jumped away so was knocked into a coma and had no broken bones. Some medical staff were in the car in front and heard the collision so stopped, picked me up and drove me straight to hospital which saved my life!
Where treatment took place: Dario Contreras Hospital for 2 days in Dominican Republic, Clinca Corazones Unidos for 2 weeks in Dominican Republic then Princess Royal at Haywards Heath ICU and then at the rehab Unit.
What (if any) Specific Procedures Undertaken: Tracheostomy and tube feeling
How did this make you feel? That I had a huge weight on me and wanted to recover as quickly as possible and re-engage with my previous interest in International Development. I undertook an MA in Governance and Development a year after the accident that happened to me!
Initial Physical Rehabilitation: I was a strong swimmer before the accident, however, I had forgotten how to do this so I joined a rehabilitation programme with mainly stroke survivors to regain my interest and expertise. I started sinking and not being able to float, however, I did regain this, however, I would swim in big arks across the pool and would hit numerous old ladies and men who I thought were swimming into me. I had to do many hand strengthening exercises which my carer, Andrew, made sure I did everyday. With Andrew I would also ride my Dad’s bike in the park with Andrew running next to me in case I stopped and could not touch the ground as my Dad’s saddle is extremely high.
Ongoing Physical Rehabilitation: I know go to the gym twice a week and have a Tai Chi session twice a week to make sure I keep my strength up and co-ordination.
Where treatment took place: In the local swimming pool and local park which also has other exercise machines we would use. And now in the local gym and Tai Chi venues.
What (if any) Specific Procedures Undertaken: The support team would want to assess everything for danger, however, me and Andrew would just do things and mitigate any risks that could be taken.
How did this make you feel? Not following the support teams advice made me feel like I had more control over my rehabilitation. And when they left I went to Glastonbury and did a further Masters which was a good option for me to take despite the care teams advice!
Other thoughts which you feel other survivors should hear about: Make sure your voice is heard and can achieve the things you feel you need to. Don’t feel there are things you can’t do, with the right support there are many things you can do!
Impact on Work: I am struggling to find work but I think it will come with continued effort.
Impact on Family: I have been through times that my family didn’t like me by being rude and very vocal, however, that was a phase I went through and am not like that anymore. They are now incredibly supportive and really like the fact I have written a very honest account of the trials and tribulations I have been through!
The website I have created for its promotion is ben-again.org and the book is entitled ‘Ben Again – the Inspirational Memoir of Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor: Ben Clench’ with 25 other contributors. My podcast is also available.