A RETIRED design teacher and lecturer from Chesham had to learn again to walk, eat properly and read after being struck down with a tumour that caused him brain damage - and has credited a Bucks charity with helping hm in his recovery.
Grandfather Ian Morgan's life changed dramatically when the benign tumour, measuring 5cm in diameter, was discovered growing on the trigeminal nerve, which controls the facial muscles.
Despite a successful five-and-a-half hour operation to remove the growth, Mr Morgan, a resident of the Chiltern District, was faced with a long and difficult battle to regain his health. And he soon discovered things would never quite be the same again for him.
Now, ten years since the first of two operations on August 5 2004, he credits the ‘brilliant’ Headway charity for helping in his recovery.
Mr Morgan, now 74, attends Headway Aylesbury Vale in Wedgewood Street, Fairford Leys, once a week and mainly spends his time painting.
While on the surface he is articulate and focussed, being able to describe his condition and the history of his health in minute detail, all is not quite what it seems for him, he says.
"Walking is difficult and I have to use a stick. I sometimes get number strings confused and if I am not careful, I dial the wrong phone number," he said.
"I forget where things are in my home, so they have to be kept in the same place so I know where they are. But even then I go to the wrong place to find them."
Some of this of course, he admits, could be down to old age, but Mr Morgan says his condition is mainly the result of the tumour which meant he spent more than three months in rehabilitation in Amersham Hospital.
"I had to learn to focus so I could see properly again and to eat properly because I couldn’t use half of my mouth," he recalled.
"I taught myself to read again by taking large print books and gradually scaling down the size of the print I was reading, until it was normal. I was in the Heberden Ward where they taught me to get my balance back and to start walking."
The tumour was first diagnosed in 2004 after previously fit-and-healthy Mr Morgan had begun falling over for no apparent reason. He was also diagnosed as suffering from water on the brain. At one stage shortly after the diagnosis, the vicar came round and gave him the last rites because "he didn’t think I was going to last very long".
But the operations and rehabilitation were successful and Mr Morgan was eventually discharged from hospital.
Life was far from easy when he returned home, despite the good progress he had made.
"People look at me and say I haven’t got brain damage. Part of my brain is still working well, but the part which is damaged affects the way I speak and the way I behave and leads me to mood swings. I get frustrated because I cannot do things I want to do," he said.
"My mood swings caused my wife to seek the help of Headway in 2009. The Aylesbury Vale branch took me on, and we haven’t looked back since."
It was initially suggested that Mr Morgan seek respite help by attending old people’s groups, but he found this wasn’t suitable for him.
"An art therapist at Headway saw my drawings and got me painting. As a result of that, I just come and paint here. It’s got my mind working because I have to work out orders of operation," he said.
"The abstract work helps me focus and recover hand skills and establish colour relationships."
Headway offers a number of activities at its new premises in Fairford Leys, including art, topical discussions, photography and socialising. It caters for survivors of Acquired Brain Injury, and believes there are about 1,500 people with ABI in the Aylesbury Vale alone.
It is the nearest Headway for Mr Morgan, a former sportsman, who drives himself there in 25 minutes from his home in the Chiltern district.
Mr Morgan is a licensed lay minister, serving for 25 years previously in the Diocese of Lichfield. He is coming up to ten years now licensed to St Mary's, Old Amersham with All Saints' Coleshill, where his wife Heather sings in the Choir. He now leads Church of England services locally at Hawridge and Cholesbury approximately once a month.
He said: "Acquired Brain Injury can happen to anybody, but Headway has been absolutely brilliant, giving my wife a break whilst I attend.
"We are both encouraged by the staff, who continue to help me re-establish confidence in myself."
Headway Chairman of Trustees Peter Preston said: "We are very proud to be able to provide the staff and set of services that support Ian’s discovery of his new reality as a survivor of an acquired brain injury. It’s great to be able to help survivors and their carers to learn to manage the often dramatic changes that come with brain injury and to see the support that the whole group provides to each other."
• Headway is always looking for volunteers to help the services that really matter to ABI survivors, whether that is in delivering services or in supporting marketing and fundraising. So if you would like to find out how you could help, especially if you have IT, marketing or artistic expertise, or if you would be willing to assist in fundraising, please phone the manager, Karen, on 07852 569719 for an informal chat.
• For more information on the charity and the help it offers, go to https://www.headway.org.uk/branches/aylesbury-vale.aspx or give Karen a ring on the number above.