"I wouldn't have recovered without Beverley"
It’s been a long and rocky road to recovery for James and Beverley, but with the release of Touching Distance, a new book chronicling the effects of James’ brain injury after his cycling accident in 2010, the couple seem happier and stronger than ever. They speak to Mumsnet about the good and bad times in a live webchat.
Beverley divulges that since the accident, if it was up to her, she would never let James go out on a bike again. “But... I have to be fair about the risk v reward. He loves cycling and is always safety conscious - bright clothes, helmet, sensible route, not rushing etc. Having said that, accidents do happen,” she adds. “I just have to realize that asking him never to cycle would be an over-reaction on my part.”
On the difficult subject of explaining the cause of James’ irrational behaviour after his injury to their six year old son, Beverley insists that honesty is the best policy. “Kids have to know it is a physical problem and neither the fault of the injured person or - especially - the child themselves,” she explains. “Use language they will understand, "Daddy's brain is still healing and so it can make him tired and angry.”
James adds: “The reality is the impact on Bev, the kids, my parents and my sister has been worse than me. I'm the one that gets sympathy but they have had to learn to live with someone who's different from before.”
Nowadays, the couple say that writing the book has been an incredibly cathartic experience and helped them get to where they are now as a family. “As we're lucky enough to have three kids, the time that Bev and I spend alone together is limited, and if we're honest, we have used that as an excuse not to talk to each other about how we're feeling.
“Before reading Bev's parts of the book I'd only cried once in over two years but when I saw in black and white for the first time what Bev had and is feeling I kept breaking down and couldn't read it all in once go. She's an amazing person and I wouldn't have made the recovery I have if she hadn't been prepared to ask the tough questions which made me confront issues I was avoiding.”
Alongside the obvious symptoms of his brain injury, James has completely lost his sense of taste or smell - which has affected him in multiple ways. He can no longer tell when food has gone off so has suffered with food poisoning more frequently since the accident, but he cheekily mentions the upside for Beverley, which is that without his sense of smell she can “get away with murder” around the house - so to speak!
For now he can’t be sure if his sense of smell and taste will ever come back, but he still has strong memories of his favourite foods. Before the accident, he loved custard cream biscuits, although Beverley is more partial to a chocolate caramel digestive! He also calls out for people to “support” vanilla ice cream: “Otherwise it'll lose out to all these fancy flavours and be lost to the world… my mum still mourns for the Viennetta!”
Finally, the couple tackled the difficult topic of whether they could be accused of ‘cashing in’ on James’ accident.
James says: “In the past I've always said no when the subject/offer of an autobiography has been raised but this time I felt there was an important reason to write it. What I've been through and Bev has endured is fortunately rare but because of that you don't get to meet many people who've experienced the same problems and when I have I've taken great strength from the way they've coped… . If by writing the book it helps people look at their life or approach any difficulties they're having in a more positive way then it will have been worth it.”Back to News List
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