At 35, Neil relearns how to tie his laces

Neal Murdoch in his flat at the Brain injury centre, Kerwin Court, Five Oaks Rd, Slinfold, Horsham.
Neal Murdoch in his flat at the Brain injury centre, Kerwin Court, Five Oaks Rd, Slinfold, Horsham.

AFTER living a ‘normal’ life, working in a nine to five job, and spending evenings down the pub, 35-year-old Neal Murdoch now resides in a specialist brain injury centre after losing movement in one side of his body.

Since a stroke last year, Neal says he is ‘90 per cent better’ and is looking forward to going back to the same job that he had before, thanks to the services of Kerwin Court in Five Oaks Road, Slinfold.

Six months ago Neal couldn’t stand up for more than 30 seconds due to the total loss of feeling down his left side. “I didn’t really have a future,” he said, thinking back on that time last October. “I was stuck in a wheelchair and couldn’t do anything for myself.

“It was going to be people looking after me all the time but since I’ve been here I’m looking at getting an adapted place in Crawley and going back to work to be a pensions analyst.”

Neal’s stroke was caused by high blood pressure which runs in his family and, as in Neal’s case, is often undiagnosed unless regular blood pressure checks are taken.

Stress at work may have been a contributory factor to the stroke he believes, yet he can’t wait to get back to his job, citing ‘lying in a hospital bed and watching the tenth episode of Loose Women’ as a serious motivator.

Once an avid walker, the most difficult thing for Neal to get used to is his lack of mobility, but he has remained positive. “Since I have been here I’m able to stand up and my balance has got much better.

“This experience has made me less cynical about things. It’s not like I’m skipping around looking at daisies but it’s made me appreciate the little things in life.

“It’s good to be around people in the same boat and sometimes you can see how lucky you are because they might be worse off than you.”

Physiotherapy has been a key service to Neal as it keeps his left leg and arm muscles relaxed so that he can use them again when his brain recovers. Occupational therapy is also provided to aid service users in learning how to deal with day to day hurdles.

“I’m now pretty independent. When I first got here I was trying to dress with just one arm and now because I have been practising so long it’s kind of second nature.”

When asked what his life was like before the stroke, he fondly described it as ‘normal’.

“I was living in a shared house with my best friend, going out in the evening, going to the pub at the weekend. Normal nine to five job. I was just moving up in the company.”

For Neal, Kerwin Court is a safe haven which helps him improve physically and mentally while his confidence slowly returns along with his sense of humour. “One thing I have learned is one handed show lace tying. It’s not a nice neat bow but it’s enough to keep them on.”

For more information on the centre go to the Disabilities Trust website at www.thedtgroup.org