Friday, 24 September 2021

I had to relearn how to walk and talk after brain surgery

A MAN who was paralysed and almost blinded by a brain tumour taught himself how to walk

A MAN who was paralysed and almost blinded by a brain tumour taught himself how to walk and talk again.

Anthony Wright, of Peppard Road, Emmer Green, had a series of operations after being diagnosed with the tumour in 2005 and was left him comatose, brain damaged and unable to walk.

He says he was weeks away from going blind, lost most of his hearing and was even clinically dead for several minutes at one point.

After spending 10 years recovering, Mr Wright can now run, lift weights and play golf and enjoy life with his wife Hazel and their son.

He also runs his own company as an international trainer and author and is a motivational speaker who helps others suffering physical, mental and emotional problems after a health crisis.

Mr Wright, a former sales manager, says he first realised something was wrong when he started having blackouts in the early 2000s.

He said: “I was travelling throughout the UK and Europe selling to large retail groups.

“When I think of the points I was getting blackouts, had that happened on a motorway in France it would have been very serious.

“I began getting treated and I deliberately falsified results in my tests so they would do an MRI scan. That scan revealed I had a tumour. It was luck like you wouldn’t believe.

“It was very strange when I first saw the picture of the scan. I remember thinking ‘you don’t come back from something like this’.

“I was referred to hospital and my health continued to go downhill. I diagnosed myself on the internet as going blind and that was confirmed by the doctor. I had an operation the next day which saved my sight.”

Six months later, Mr Wright had surgery in Bristol to deal with the main tumour. He endured four operations in five days, each about 14 hours long.

During one operation he “died” and was left in a coma for a week and his face “collapsed”.

Mr Wright said: “I had some weird experiences while I was ‘dead’ but it was really only for a few minutes.

“It was pretty shattering when I woke up. I had lost my face by then and I could no longer walk. I had lost five stone and my balance was so bad that I would fall out of bed.”

He was moved to a rehabilitation centre in Oxford but frustration with his condition soon boiled over. He would have regular fights with nurses over showering, would break into the gym and once even sneaked out to a pub.

Mr Wright said: “I think it was the desire to escape. By that point I had been in hospital for months and I felt it was time to push on and get on with it. It was an uphill struggle.

“It was very tough on my family. In the early days when operations were going wrong my wife had to sign papers that said if I died or was paralysed she would take responsibility. She also had to work while I was in a wheelchair.”

By the time he returned home, Mr Wright could only walk up to 600 yards. He said he pushed himself hard each day to do more and more.

He said: “It took two years’ exercise before I could walk properly and then run. I would build up little by little each day.

“I used to go to the golf course a lot. I would do three or four holes the first day, five or six the next and eventually I was going round the entire course three or four times in the same day. I used to hit 200 or 300 balls a day.”

He credits his recovery to neuroplasticity, the process by which the brain learns new skills and thought processes. He says it was particularly tough to relearn words and in the early days he had the vocabulary of a teenager.

He said: “Among all the injuries I picked up was a brain injury, which affected my short-term memory, speech and use of English. It knocked me back 30 years.

“The health service said I had permanent damage and there was nothing they could do, so I was left thinking I was stuck with this.

“Then I thought ‘I should get on and do something — I can’t spend the rest of my life losing my phone and keys, not able to lead a normal life’.”

Mr Wright, who still has remains of the tumour in his brain in a dormant state, has appeared on radio shows both in Britain and America and has also written a book for people in the same situation called You Can Self Heal.

He recently gave a speech at the Chartered Institute of Personal Development conference in London called “Neuroplasticity and learning”.

He said: “I’ve had 15 operations. My face has been rebuilt and along the way we’ve got there but it’s still an ongoing process, it’s about how far I can push it.

“Just about everybody says most of the things I do are impossible. They say I can’t run like this, I can’t hit a golf ball 250 yards, it can’t be done. If I’d listened to those people I wouldn’t be here now.”

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