The time since October 13th 2019. The day I fell unconscious to the floor and into a 7-day long coma. I had suffered a ruptured aneurysm in my basil artery, which was a severe grade 5 subarachnoid brain haemorrhage (SAH). It feels surreal to think it has been a full year since that moment in time. It has been a weird year for all of humanity with the pandemic and everything that has come with that. However, today I want to speak about what the last year has been like for me and to touch on what I have learnt along the way.
It’s still tough to reflect on what happened to me on this day one year ago, to try and recall exactly what happened. I try to forget it sometimes. But each day comes with its reminders. It may be the lack of feeling that still lingers in my right toes, or a conversation with a doctor that’s checking in, or the blood-thinning medication I still rely on. It’s all these little triggers that bring up the memories and that bring the opportunity to reflect on where I was while at the same time, reminding me how far I have also come.
This past weekend on October 11th 2020, I was supposed to be completing a 70.3 Ironman. It got cancelled like the rest of 2020, however, if you’ve read my previous blogs you would understand how much of a journey I was on to accomplish that goal. In all honesty, when it got cancelled, the initial reaction was a disappointment. It felt like I had been working towards something which now I could not accomplish. I had to take a few step backs to then acknowledge that is was more about the journey of getting to my peak health fitness than just completing the Ironman (now scheduled for 2021!). What I had achieved in preparation for the event could not be taken from me. The Ironman was merely one chapter of my recovery journey. There have been many layers which I want to touch on briefly throughout this blog and then I will be going into more depth in each area over the coming weeks and months.
I remember when I woke up on October 20th 2019. I had no feeling whatsoever on the right side of my body. My head was so cloudy and I had a distorted perception of reality and time. I had suffered a stroke as a result of the ruptured aneurysm. The consultant who had performed numerous brain surgeries on me while I had been in a coma, stood over me and said he was unsure whether the movement would ever return, or whether my mobility would come back. He had initially told my family he was unsure if I would even survive, and if I did, movement or norma`al brain function was highly unlikely. If you have read my Ironman blogs, you will know that I smashed every statistic on my type of rare aneurysm out of the park (including 80% mortality rate). I went on to be running half-marathon distances, cycling over 100kms and swimming across lakes in preparation for the Ironman.
It’s funny. I got told I may never be able to move again so I spent the last year pushing that statement to the limits. If you follow me on social media, you will know that pre-lockdown I took a trip to Norway to learn how to snowboard. I’d only ever skied once, so I thought why not try snowboarding. I managed to pick snowboarding up much faster than I did skiing and I feel it was connected to the fact that I had less fear. It’s crazy how much self-inflicted fear causes us to slow down in our lives, but that was a huge landmark in my recovery journey as well. Okay, there may have been a few bellies and bum slides down the red slopes, but I was pushing my limit at this point! I also went onto to do other activities to acknowledge my physical and mental progress which included cycling 250km across Wales, getting back into bouldering, creating a garden vegetable and fruit patch, launching a small marketing agency to support digital brands during Covid, started a training programme to become a business and education entrepreneurship coach, travel to Italy and Portugal and also invited to speak at schools sharing my story…to name but a few achievements over these past 12 months.
I have continued to read, watch and learn as much as I can about holistic health. I knew the doctors had been advised to tell me certain things from experience but life is just a combination of different stories we tell ourselves and then when a lot of people agree it becomes a truth. I was on a journey to rewrite the truth of stroke and aneurysm recovery and I still am today and will continue to do so. I want to prove that there IS a different outcome; you don’t have to become a statistic. I am slowly acknowledging the power of the mind and its incredible capabilities. They said it may take years to get to where I am today, if at all. I’ve somehow accelerated the process of brain trauma recovery and I feel like this is just the start of my journey.
I always knew my mobility would return because I believed more than you can ever imagine. Dr Joe Dispenza is a leading neuroscientist and explores the connection between brain function, neurology and cellular regenerative development. I dived into his literature and started reading ‘Becoming Supernatural’, which allowed me to get a deeper understanding of how I could reprogramme my brain. The thing is, I started doing this in the hospital way before I had even heard of Dr Joe. I was imagining myself running, cycling, climbing and doing all the things I loved to do while I lay immobile in bed for weeks on end. I managed to rewire my subconscious mind, which I will explore in more depth in a separate article.
In addition to all the physical achievements, I realised that my brain needed brain food. Over the last year, I have created incredible habits of taking superfood supplements on a near-daily basis to help recharge and repower my brain. The biggest side effects of brain trauma include memory loss, confusion and mental fatigue amongst other cognitive behavioural deficits. I was adamant I would keep myself supercharged to help the reproduction of neuro-synapses in my brain. I dived into the work of high-performing health gurus such as Ben Greenfield and Chervin Jafarieh, who speak about power plants, medicinal mushrooms, superfoods and concentrated micro and macronutrients amongst other things and why they are nature’s best-kept secrets. I will write more about these supplements over the next few weeks in separate blogs to give them the justice and space they deserve as such healing powers.
On top of this nutritional advice, I started to follow the likes of Paul Chek, Human Timothy and David Weck to get a better understanding of primal and functional mobility. How the brain is connected to the movement in our body and how experimenting in the way that we move, we can activate different parts of the brain. Once again this process allowed me to dig deeper into my body, explore my body (and fascia) more and therefore create stronger neuro synapse connections. This is something which I am excited to share more about later.
Amongst all the above, I explored more alternative healing methods such as deep healing breathwork (on which I became a certified practitioner), acupuncture, sound bath therapy, reiki healing, kinesiology, physiotherapy, chakra healing, embodied yoga and a few other (alternative/weird) practices, all in the act of learning more about recovery and understanding cognitive and neurological regeneration and development. Again, a topic which I will be writing and sharing more about in the coming months.
It’s been 1 year since I fell into a coma. 1 year of self-discovery, exploration and learning about the fascinating thing that is the human brain, body and soul. This is just the start of my life-long conquest to understand the complex world of science and spirituality. I have come to see what happened to me as a gift in disguise. Something that set me on a new path and acted as the impetus to learn about the power of our mind and body. I do not know where this road will lead but I promise myself to stay on the road, keep asking questions, keep trying, testing and becoming stronger mentality, physically and spiritually… and then share this with the world.
If you want to learn more about anything I have mentioned then feel free to reach out as I would love to hear from you!
Thank you for reading, ’til next time.