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Mark Baldwin

Mark tells us how a bleed on the brain resulted in him joining the Norwich Branch of Headway Norfolk and Waveney, and how the people there have supported his journey.

"Before my bleed, I was in the process of buying a flat and moving out. My parents were moving up to Norfolk from Hertfordshire. Everything was going well; I was doing very well at work. I started to progress up the professional chain in logistics at Heathrow Airport, controlling imports and exports for large companies. I really enjoyed it, and as I said, it was going well".

In 2019, at the age of 23, Mark attended a friend's wedding reception in the evening and his former girlfriend gave him a ride home. "That's pretty much the last thing I remember." Mark experienced a mild headache after showering. His parents advised him to take some paracetamol. Later, Mark became sick in the downstairs toilet, crying out in pain and reciting extremely long numbers, which he now believes were a memory dump of his professional knowledge. Mark was rushed to Watford Hospital, where a scan revealed that he was suffering from a bleed on the brain.

Mark was taken to a specialist hospital in London, where they drilled into his skull and inserted drains to take out all the blood that was pooling on the top of his brain. The next thing Mark remembers is being in hospital three and a half weeks on from his initial entry. Mark had a tap in his hand for blood tests, there was a pipe in his arm, and a catheter because he had been on life support. After the bleed, Mark was horrendously fatigued, so was having to sleep during the day to cope with the effects of the bleed on his brain.

Four weeks later, Mark was moved to a care home in Taverham to be closer to his Parents and started attending Headway.

"The support workers are great! Some of them have had brain injuries themselves, so they understand how you feel. It's great to see they've had a brain injury and are working and having families. It's nice to see that you can achieve that.”

Mark returned to the hospital in December for a second operation to repair the damaged area through keyhole surgery. "Before the surgery, they give you a form explaining what's going to happen, outlining everything that can go wrong during the operation. It says, additional brain damage, you can have a stroke, paralysis, you could go blind, loads of other things. Then right at the bottom, it says and or death. I was terrified."

"Headway has helped me loads. It has taught me good things like memory techniques which I can use in everyday life. It's beneficial interacting with others who have had a brain injury, even though it's not necessarily the same cause as you. You can relate.”

“The activities are really helpful, not as helpful as they were, which is a good thing, it means that I' m improving, and they are becoming relatively easy now whereas in the start they were a little bit hard, so that's good."

Now 27 years old, Mark recently regained his full driving license. However, he wants to raise awareness that "you can't simply hop in the car." Due to the intense fatigue following an acquired brain injury (ABI), Mark had to gradually increase his driving hours. Initially, Mark would drive to Headway, with his father returning his car and picking him up. Now, Mark can drive to the centre and back on his own.

"The support groups are amazing. My mum goes. Through them, she's become quite good friends with other clients' wives as they are quite similar in age. Brain injuries affect the person but also their family. It's all the changes, so my mum has found it very beneficial, she can talk to other people in the same boat as her. It's having a conversation with someone who understands the challenges. They can also discuss what's helping their family member and might discover something that they haven't thought of, and the other person might also have other ideas that they can exchange.”

Chris Clark, Area Manager for Norwich and South Norfolk commented "Since I first met Mark, his confidence has grown immensely. He has overcome many difficulties and always remained positive, even though the darkest times. He has learnt to overcome and manage the issues affecting his memory and is now looking to restart his career. I feel honoured and lucky to have worked with such a wonderful person and wish him well in the next chapter in his life.”