"There were no winners that day – think before you thump"

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"There were no winners that day – think before you thump"

Post by Admin on Wed Mar 18, 2015 10:49 pm



Paul Spence, 34 and from Hull, had been enjoying a night out with friends in April 2012 when he fell victim to an unprovoked attack - a single moment of thoughtless violence that was to change the course of his entire future in the space of just a few seconds.

"My brother Mark and I had left our friends to go to the toilet in the pub in Hull - the sort of family pub I would take my Grandma out for a bite to eat," Paul recalled.
"Unbeknown to us, tension was building in the main dining area and a scuffle had broken out between two groups of men. As if out of nowhere, one of the guys involved in the fight stumbled into the toilet and punched me in the face when I wasn't looking."
The impact of the punch forced the back of Paul's head backwards against the toilet's ceramic floor, causing the dad-of-two to suffer a major brain haemorrhage that left him unconscious with a traumatic brain injury.

Paul was rushed to Hull Royal Infirmary where he remained for the next six weeks of his life. Even when Paul began to regain consciousness, his brain had continued to swell days after the incident, which caused him to have frequent seizures in the hospital as a result of his traumatic brain injury.

"When I finally began to wake up after the incident, I still didn't really know what was going on and I stuttered whenever I tried to speak," said Paul.

"I struggled with sight problems as a result of the brain injury and, even when I was finally allowed to return home, I couldn't look upwards for a long time.

"Shortly after being discharged from hospital, money issues prompted me to go back to my job as an electrical foreman at Humber Electrical Company, where Mark also works. Even though I was allowed to shadow Mark during my first few weeks back on the job, I wasn't really ready to return and I eventually had to accept my limitations and give up the work that had been my life for more than 20 years.

"Lack of income soon meant I had to give up my mortgage, and I also lost my girlfriend because my brain injury put strain on our relationship. Times were very difficult.

"In addition, my brain injury meant that I could no longer drive and my memory was very poor, particularly in the early stages of my recovery, and I eventually began to suffer from depression.

"It wasn't until nearly five months after the incident, in August 2012, that I started to feel more like myself.

"I don't know what motivated me to do it, but one day I decided to do a sit up, a squat and, finally, a push up. This was a turning point in my recovery because until that point I struggled to execute basic instructions, let alone think for myself to complete a series of tasks in a coherent and planned out sequence."

In December 2014, Paul was allowed to drive for the first time since sustaining his injury, but he has decided to hold off getting back behind the wheel until he is truly ready. "In recent months, I have made incredible strides in my recovery," said Paul. "I've even gone on to run 10k marathons to raise awareness of brain injury."

However, even today Paul continues to pay the difficult price for his attacker's actions. Having created motivational online videos as part of his rehabilitation, Paul is now determined to use his videos to give hope to others affected as well as show viewers how one single act of violence can devastate a person's entire life. "Many people living with a brain injury after being assaulted struggle to communicate and express themselves," said Paul, who attends sessions at Headway Hull and East Riding.

"I am very thankful to have made this much progress, and I want to be a voice for those people who can't explain how difficult and challenging living with a brain injury can be.

"One single moment of mindless stupidity can re-write the course of a person's future in unpredictable and unimaginably cruel ways.

"There can be an amazing life after brain injury but, in cases like mine, such injuries can - and should - be prevented.

"There were no winners that day. The guy that did this to me went to prison and I have been left with a devastating brain injury. My message is simple: please, think before you thump."

Watch Paul's inspirational videos by visiting his Facebook page, My Brain Recovery, at www.facebook.com/paulspencebrainrecovery.
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