The Brain Damaged Baron
A quick intro to Andy:
· Names: by day: Andy Nicholson, by both day and night: The Brain Damaged Baron
· He’s 48 but sometimes feels 88. He’s from Lincoln, UK
· Hobbies: Cat whisperer, Hobnob scoffer, General of nobody imparticular, stepfather to an abandoned son, father to a lunatic daughter, husband to a lovely wife. I will have my sleep in this life and the next, pretty much permanently
· His favourite group: Thunder
· His greatest inspiration: Life and the quest for acceptance
Great fact: I hate cheap teaspoons
1969, late in the year. A small woman, heavily pregnant, eyes watering, pushes hard for 24 hours until out I pop. OK, I’ll skip ahead a quarter of a century…
1994, December, a building site in Leipzig, Germany. Five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Eastern Germany is in a hurry to catch up with the rest of its Teutonic, long separated cousin. For that reason and that reason only; hoards of British builders, fly, drive, or float over to the land of the rising bratwurst, so to speak.
And I’m one of them. Nine months pass by in the blink of an eye. Biers are imbibed, buildings are renovated, friends are made, orders are obeyed, and accidents happen.
8th of December, 6am. I enter a house on which I am working and plummet 7 metres down an open and unguarded stairwell. I land on my bonce and there was no safety helmet to cushion the fall. Essentially, I bungee jump, but in a move some would describe as foolhardy at best; I neglect to attach the bungee cord to my ankles. I’m comatose for three weeks, I have a severe brain injury and life has changed in that blink of an eye. Ten months later, I’m back in Blighty, learning to live with the new me and waiting for the next spanner to be thrown into the works. Works that have already compensated for the permanent loss of good health, the disappearance of too many friends to mention and to the realisation that I’ll never be the same idiot who went off to Germany. Still an idiot, but a whole new type of idiot.
The next spanner looms large…
The horizon fades, the view changes, reality is replaced by hallucinations and a kind of panic that is not only new but utterly terrifying. My body can’t handle it, the brain is on overload, muscles twitch and spasm and the heart rate goes off like Lewis Hamilton on a speed rush. Then, just when I can’t take any more, my body gives up. Darkness.
Hello, epilepsy. You vicious bas*ard.
Twenty years hurtle by and I DO mean hurtle. The epilepsy is 90% controlled, a happy marriage takes place and it’s time to give something back. An idea is hatched. To make films; vlogs (as the kids call them). Just my good self and a camera explaining what it’s really like living with brain injury, epilepsy, and many other related conditions. I know the score, many others know the score, but unless the brain injured, let’s call them the victims, are bedridden or wheelchair-bound, then the rest of the world never knows the truth. They never understand the reality of life when headaches are virtually permanent, memory is a lottery, words can be a struggle, anger and confusion are good friends and the ever-present threat of an epileptic seizure looms like an omnipresent being intent on ruining life for an indeterminate length of time.
Life’s a bi*ch, but I crack on. I’m not alone, there are thousands like me and the rest of the world understands not one jot. It’s time they knew. And to be honest here, let’s have a laugh about it. It’s the only way to attack it. I must laugh: if I don’t find humour in my conditions, then what’s the point? Laughter gets me by, it always has. And so, I chat about memory woes, seizures, toilet habits, friendships (or lack of), fatigue, tolerance, piles, confidence, the list goes on. And I smile a lot, particularly while my daughter is singing with me on one particular film. Why not? It’s better than wallowing in a mire of self-pity. I wallow enough in the endless drugs I need to take after visiting my dealer in the local chemist. So, here’s the reality. I’m still here, I’m still cracking on and the world needs to know what it’s really like for myself and millions upon millions of others. And please, PLEASE, laugh.
The Brain Damaged Baron