Surviving a week on the brain-injury rollercoaster

I wrote last week about the importance of not letting things 'mither' or bother me, especially in the run-up to my 28th wedding anniversary on July 21.

I'm happy to say that I managed to do that. The weekend of our wedding anniversary was a huge success. Since then, though, the rollercoaster which is life with a brain injury has been going at full speed - and I'll happily admit that I've really struggled to cope with the twists and turns.

Monday was fun, if busy - busy enough, in fact, that I completely forgot the dental appointment I should have attended that afternoon, despite having it written on whiteboard and calendar, as well as in my phone calendar. Normal people shrug off stuff like this; those with brain injuries take it very personally. I've rescheduled it and the surgery were fine about it; to me, it shouldn't have happened.

Then on Tuesday, the black mist descended in style, despite temperatures in the 80's which normally help my mood. I was due to give a stroke-awareness talk in Chepstow on Thursday morning, something which would mean a train journey and an overnight stay. But the hotel in which I was due to stay suddenly doubled their price to a level which I couldn't afford. I'd have to cancel and let down a whole load of people, wouldn't I?

I spent most of Tuesday in a deep depression. I hate letting people down; once I've promised something, I do it. But I roused myself sufficiently to put in calls to a couple of friends to let them know how I was feeling and they offered advice. Another call and the job was done. Alternative accommodation was found at less than half the price. The trip was made, the talk went superbly and the possibility of a useful collaboration was raised. In addition, the man who drove the train is a friend of mine and he upgraded me to first-class. Did I mention rollercoasters?

On Thursday afternoon, I had a meeting with my neuropsychologist, who is by far the best part of my involvement with the NHS post-stroke. He cares, he empathises, he comes up with solutions to problems. We spoke for 90 minutes, I talked about a variety of concerns, he offered advice. I felt much better for the experience.

And I've left out Wednesday, which was the ultimate rollercoaster day. It started when the postman delivered a letter from my bank; I won't go into detail, but 'threatening' just about sums it up. I went to my local branch (yes, this bank does still have a local branch) to express my concern and was met by a lady who I now know to be the new branch manager. Sympathetic, understanding, everything banks have a reputation for not being. She consulted her diary and arranged an appointment for Friday to sort out the problem.

Which gave me time to attend my third funeral in less than six weeks. This time, the deceased was someone from a brain-injury support group I attend. Diagnosed with a brain tumour five years ago and given three years to live, he finally succumbed a month ago. Like me, he was a man who enjoyed life and realised that he had been given 'extra time' and should enjoy it.

He was a big rugby man. A rugby tunnel was formed as his coffin was taken into the chapel and traditional rugby hymns were sung. We'll miss him, it's not fair that he was taken so young, but we are comforted by the thought that he made the most of every day - which is what I'm trying to do.

Which brings us to Friday and my appointment with the bank. Financial insecurity has been my biggest worry since I was made redundant in 2009 and certainly since my stroke in 2013. We have been pleading for help and understanding from the banking system and it hasn't happened. Now, it appears to be happening.

The sympathetic and understanding manager is going to take us under her wing, completely restructure our finances, make sure we are secure and give us the help and understanding we need. As we enter a new week, the rollercoaster seems to be on an upswing. Sometimes, I wish I could stop it and get off, but I know that dealing with the highs and lows is making me a better person.

After all, that's what Warriors do, isn't it?