Headway Hertfordshire - supporting people affected by brain injury

Tom Boardman's Story

Tom, 18, collapsed in the bathroom and fell paralysed.

After returning from a holiday in Spain in 2011 eighteen year
old Tom suffered a stroke possibly brought on, doctors said,
by stress. Tom had been revising hard for his A levels and
he knew a lot was riding on the results.


He had beaten thousands of other students and securing a
development programme with an accountancy firm. But he
needed those A level grades.


In the event he got the A levels he needed and the
accountancy firm confirmed their offer. Tom went off on
holiday.


The stroke was devastating and two years' later Tom can
falteringly tell his story.


'When I had my stroke I was having a shower and I
collapsed in the bath tub,' he said. ' I couldn't move,
paralysed on the right hand side. My mum was about to go
out but came running up and got a knife to get into the
bathroom. I couldn't speak. She dialled 999.'


Tom was taken to the hospital where a nurse asked him
three times if he was drunk. Tom couldn't talk and eventually
the medical team realised he wasn't drunk but had suffered a
stroke and he was admitted.


'After a few weeks I could sort of walk but my right arm was
pretty useless. But my brain had been damaged and that
meant memory loss and real problems with speech and
understanding. I would try to say something to my mum or a
friend but the words just wouldn't come.


'Now I am home, I can get around but am still trying to speak
properly. It is so frustrating. So often I know what I want to
say but I just can't say it. And when I am stuck on a word I
lose track of what I am saying and ask myself what on earth
I was talking about.'


Tom has been to meetings with other people who suffer
difficulties with speaking, understanding, reading and writing
-and that has helped, but the biggest help, he says, has
come from linking up with Headway.


'When I went to my first rehab meeting all I could say was
'I'm Tom.' But everyone there had brain injury and the same
kind of problems, so everyone understood. After six months I
felt I was making progress. That helped build my confidence
massively.'


Tom was on Headway's 12 month HABIT rehab programme
and has finally secured his job at the accountancy firm.
‘With support from Headway I managed to slowly get my
confidence back, which has really helped me with my job.’