In 2009, a punch from a stranger changed Brian Hogan’s life forever.
“Almost eight years ago now when I was 32, I was living in the UK and I was working as a senior quantity surveyor. I was fiercely independent, running quite large multi-million-pound projects.
“One evening I was out in Nottingham in the city where I was living and I was punched in the face by a random stranger who tagged along to my group, thinking he could come along to a house party. When I told him I didn’t know who he was and he couldn’t come, he punched me. I fell back hard and I hit my head on the kerb.
“I went home thinking I was fine. The next morning I didn’t wake up. I had suffered a massive brain bleed in the night. I was brought into surgery, the pressure (on the brain) was taken down and to stabilise me I was put into an induced coma, by which time my family, who all live in Limerick, flew over to the UK and were by my bedside for three months, talking and singing to me,” says Brian.
It was then from a punchline of a joke, that Brian began to regain consciousness.
“The nurses said [to my family], ‘he can still hear you so don’t cry, be positive’.
“One day my mum told me a dirty joke and when it came to the punchline of the joke, I wagged my foot and my finger and they (medical staff) said: ‘this is good, keep doing this, keep telling jokes.’
“My sense of humour was helping my stats get good, so when my stats stabilised enough they took me out of the induced coma only for me to discover to my horror that I was blind,” says Brian.
His optic nerve had snapped because he did not go to hospital directly after the fall to have his brain bleed drained.
After some rehabilitation in the UK, his family found a care facility in Ireland. However, it was not an appropriate setting for the by now 33-year-old.
“I got there only to discover it was no more a brain injury unit, it was an old folks home. So to go, when I was 33 living with old people with dementia, I mean I like older people, it wasn’t the right place for me,” he says.
From here he came in contact with Acquired Brain Injury Ireland and got a place in a rehabilitation home in Clarecastle, Co Clare, where he still lives six years later.
“Midweek I attend an organisation called Headway that keeps me active and gets me into a routine again, I’m working towards an accreditation to get back into education or back into work, so it’s a focus for me, I like it. My hopes are to get more independent and eventually move out and live independently,” he says.
While he initially felt anger against his attacker Brian made a distinct choice.
“I was very angry in the early days but you know we all have choices in life. I could choose to allow what that man did to me to consume my every bit of life and my every bit of joy in life and I won’t do that. I want to keep my headspace for my genuine friends who have stuck by me and my great family,” he says.
“Our health is fragile, we never realise how important our health is until it’s taken from us. My grandma says: ‘you never feel the thirst until the well runs dry,’ and it’s true.”
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