ian skaiffe, brain injury and HIP

A former Chemistry teacher in Nantwich has told of his battle against a brain injury – to help raise awareness for Head Injured People group.

Ian Skaiffe revealed what he thought was ‘man flu’ left him fighting for his life with an abscess on his brain.

The former Malbank School teacher, now an IT Consultant, never imagined his wife Alyson would have to teach him basic arithmetic & spelling.

But within a week of suffering the ‘man flu’ in August 2012, the 55-year-old was undergoing the first of three operations in University Hospital of North Staffs to clear an abscess from his brain.

“I could not speak and was paralysed on my right side, unable to perform the most basic functions,” recalls Ian.

“Twelve weeks later, after encouragement from Alyson and our two sons, support from family and many friends, prayers from my church fellowship, and the strength of my faith, I left hospital in a wheelchair and able to speak again.

“The skill of the neurosurgeons, other health professionals, allied to the care of the nursing team also had a great deal to do with it.

“I will never be able to thank them enough.”

The nature of the injury also took its toll mentally on Ian, so he looked elsewhere for help.

“I have always tried to have a positive outlook on life, and was determined to work hard at my recovery, but the nature of a brain injury is that it can affect your mental wellbeing enormously.

“In the early days I suffered confusion and although I could sort of understand some of what people were saying, I couldn’t get the words out to answer them.

“This often resulted in bouts of swearing and anger – another symptom of the swelling on that part of the brain which controls inhibitions and social interaction.”

On discharge from the rehab unit at The Heywood in Newcastle, Ian had to attend lots of follow-up and after care appointments.

But the most useful turned out to be with the Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) team at Cheshire & Wirral Partnership.

“The team member assigned to me, Beth Fisher, as well as giving lots of practical advice on how to manage my condition, get back into work and driving again, has been a constant support in my mental well-being and building confidence.

“Beth’s caring nature is such that – along with other brain injury survivors, their carers and other professionals – the charity Head Injured People (HIP) in Cheshire has been set up.”

HIP provides a range of activities for people with ABI to meet, socialise and share experiences. Ian attends coffee mornings once a month which he says are a “source of encouragement to me and many others”.

The group is also open to carers who often bear the brunt of anger and frustration felt by sufferers.

“I know recovery will be a journey for many years to come,” Ian adds.

“I also know organisations like HIP need our support and funding to build on the work they do.”

To help raise funds and awareness of HIP, they are staging a Mad Hair Day event on May 13.

They are encouraging people to style their hair anyway they like with colour, spike it up or wear a wacky wig.

To sign up for this event simply fill in a form on this page.

For more information, contact Clare Emerton, Head Injured People (HIP) in Cheshire charity fundraiser & co-ordinator, on 07900158166.

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