Headway Leeds: A Charity of Love

Headway Leeds, a beacon of hope.

For those who struggle to cope,

With physical challenges and strife

Giving them a chance at a better life

after sustaining brain injury.

Through mingling, social events indoors,

The trips opened the world’s doors.

People from all walks of life

Gather to fight chronic strife

after sustaining brain injury.

With newfound purpose and direction,

They find their soul’s true reflection.

Breaking barriers of isolation,

Uniting in a shared elation

after sustaining brain injury.

Headway Charities are heartbeats of love,

Offering a helping hand, a velvet glove.

Inspiring the will to live and thrive,

Fostering hope so we can survive

after sustaining brain injury.

We stand in awe of your work

O Headway Leeds, you never shirk,

Your duties to those with needs and meek.

Thank you for the joy you seek,

after sustaining brain injury

Life After Brain injury

The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa.

I sustained brain injury as a result of a car accident in 2002. As a result I suffered both temporary short term and long term memory loss. My left side of the brain which controls movement in my right- upper and lower limbs was permanently affected hence I use a wheelchair particularly when accessing outdoors. Thankfully I managed to start studying again in 2006 after recovering my speech and concentration, consequently I went to university for four years to study for a Masters degree in Town Planning. Though I good at Maths and sciences before the accident I hated now hated anything to do with numbers and formulas after the accident so I chose to do an Arts degree. It is noteworthy that a brain injury affects different people differently and for a detailed description of what happened to me I recommend people to visit my first ever blog.

Brain injury, whether it’s caused by trauma, disease or a medical condition, can have profound and long-lasting effects on a person’s cognitive, emotional and physical functioning. The brain is the control center of the body, and when it is damaged, it can affect a person’s ability to think, feel, and move. That said to me the brain is the most vital part of the human body.

The effects of brain injury can vary depending on the severity and location of the injury. Mild traumatic brain injury, also known as a concussion, can cause short-term effects such as headaches, dizziness, and confusion. However, moderate to severe brain injury can have more severe and long-lasting effects on a person’s life. Brain injury can also cause invisible disability, some examples include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), speech difficulties (no one can tell that I have on going speech problems which is why I write better than I talk), fatigue, headaches, migraines, cognitive impairments (it could be argued that I’m no longer as smart as I was before the accident despite having limited resources), light sensitivity, and memory problems.

Cognitive Effects:
One of the most common effects of brain injury is cognitive impairment. This can include difficulty with memory, attention, language, and executive functioning. Executive functioning refers to a person’s ability to plan, organize, and carry out tasks. Miraculously I was the Executive Secretary for my church ward from 2008 to 2011, with faith the impossible is possible also at that point my concentration had considerably improved. Brain injury can also affect a person’s ability to learn new information and retain it over time.

Emotional Effects:
Brain injury can also have a significant impact on a person’s emotional functioning. Depression, anxiety, and mood swings are common emotional effects of brain injury. Personally I used to be moody or emotionless due in part to constipation caused by the brain injury and spending a considerable amount of time on my own during weekdays when adults are working and kids are at school. Also the emotional changes can be caused by the physical changes in the brain or the psychological impact of the injury.

Physical Effects:
Brain injury can also cause a range of physical effects, including loss of coordination, weakness, and paralysis. These physical effects can make it difficult for a person to perform everyday tasks such as walking, dressing, and eating. In some cases, brain injury can also cause seizures- from end of 2002 to 2004 I experienced several seizures particularly whenever I got worried and seriously concerned or upset about something, which can be a lifelong condition. Myself I ain’t had any in 19 years.

Social Effects:
Brain injury can also have a significant impact on a person’s social life. I sustained my brain injury when I was a young dude transitioning from a teenager into adulthood, at that point in life many would will be enjoying their life to the fullest in particular making long or short term sexual relationships. Whereas I spent my teenage years alone and went to university hardly interacting with other students except for a handful of occasions hence I only made a few university friends. I enjoyed been alone and I still love my own company. As a result I also travelled across the world by myself in a wheelchair and had the best moments coupled with invaluable experiences. Changes in personality, behavior, and social skills can make it difficult for a person to maintain relationships and interact with others. Social isolation is a common problem for people with brain injury, which can lead to depression and other mental health issues. To avoid that if I’m not travelling I’m always out in town meeting new people making friends and acquaintances.

The treatment of brain injury depends on the severity and location of the injury. Mild brain injury may only require rest and time to heal, while more severe injuries may require surgery, medication, and rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is an important part of the treatment process and can include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and cognitive therapy. I was unconscious for 4weeks, couldn’t feel my legs for a further 2 months period and there after started all the therapy sessions. At first first I was in the Intensive Care Unit at Leeds General Infirmary then was transferred to Chapel Allerton Hospital for further rehabilitation. To improve cognitively I used to play chess against nurses.

Preventing brain injury is the best way to avoid the negative effects of brain injury. Wearing a helmet when participating in sports or riding a bike, wearing a seatbelt while driving, and avoiding alcohol and drugs can all help to prevent brain injury. Stroke, which is a leading cause of brain. However it’s hard to enforce safety measures when carrying out some activities such pole dancing which is one of the most dangerous profession or hobby, it can cause a brain Injury or worse. Recently I went to a Snoop Dogg Concert where I met a lady who told me that she looks after a lady who fell headlong pole dancing.

The lady I met before the Snoop Dogg Concert


⁃ We are what we repeatedly do hence excellence is a habit said Aristotle. Habits shape our lives, you are who you are because of habits, they are consistent unconscious vital patterns in our lives. For those who sustained a head injury like me, it’s difficult to break bad habits but it can be done. However it’s also possible to develop new positive habits.

⁃ Habits can either make us or break us. They have tremendous impetus, breaking deep rooted habitual tendencies (such as procrastination, impatience, selfishness, and so forth) can take not only tremendous effort but also unprecedented will power. Such negative habits detract from human effectiveness. A wisemen once compared habits to gravitational pull. Which is a vital component on this Earth. I digress, without it, all of us will be looking like astronauts and cosmonauts having swollen heads coupled with chicken legs. In zero gravity, fluids move upwards into our faces and head hence giving astronauts a ‘puffy face syndrome’. Other effects of zero gravity include muscle atrophy and osteoporosis.

⁃ Therefore a lift off requires considerable effort to break through the the gravitational pull but once space is reached and after taking a different dimension, less effort is required.

⁃ Having said that habits are such powerful forces and if people relentlessly pursue positive habits which can add value to our lives. The world will be a better place for it. In conclusion

Richard G Scott said “We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day”.

Since i learnt of these words I never quite grasped the meaning of them until now. Our lives are characterised by our habits. Similarly our failures and successes in life are the products of our habits. Its the new year folk. Let’s choose to develop good Habits. Happy New year.

⁃ Habit is the product of knowledge skill and desire

A trip to USOpen2018: Expected to run an errand without my legs

The labyrinth of New York

My worst experience ever dealing with hotels was in China Town, New York. Since I had stayed at the same hotel in 2017 I thought the journey planning would be a doddle. From experience it’s stress free and doesn’t cost much to travel if planned well. Having said that, to avoid the unforeseen transport issues that I had encountered earlier in May going to Cyprus, I made sure that I go to Manchester Airport early in the morning though my flight was departing in the afternoon, at 14:00. At the airport I checked-in betimes, as soon as the check in commenced.

Earlier that morning I had failed to locate my phone charger. Never mind I will buy one at the Airport, I thought. As I was being checked in, “make sure you empty all the contents from the side pocket of your chair… Also take your wallet and remember to take it with you into the plane”, said the lady on the counter. After the check-in the lady put my wallet in the side pocket of my hand luggage.

In the lounge I decided to go to Dixon’s, a renowned U.K. electrical shop. In there I took out my wallet from my bag, which was on my lap. The shop didn’t have an American or universal adapters but they allowed me to charge my phone and to keep an eye on it. When I left the shop the time was 12:40 which means I had roughly about 20minutes to charge it before thinking about boarding. I then went back to the lounge and soon after I was bursting for the loo. I couldn’t see no signs for disabled toilets on the ground floor, I asked someone and I was told to go upstairs. Aware that I was pushing it, I decided to take my phone from Dixon’s. In the shop, I was getting frustrated because I couldn’t see my phone where I had left it, let alone all the sales personnel were busy helping customers. Finally, “do you want your phone?” Someone asked me to my great relief.

He then went into the office at the back of the shop and brought it to me. Thereafter I went to find the lift to go upstairs. After the loo and in the lift I alarmingly heard my name being announced. “Mr Mteliso can you please make your way to flight number…” I assumed that the ground staff couldn’t find me where I was supposed to be. Trying to up my speed but to my frustration I was annoyingly in a lift seemingly slow moving. In the moment I forgot that I had left my crutches behind in the lounge. In the tunnel to board the plane is when I recalled and I asked one of the Aeroplane crew to go get them where I had left them. Instead of being one of the first passengers to board as a disabled person, I was the last one.

After 30 minutes the flight arrived in London at Heathrow airport. One of the grounds staff came to me and suggested that they were going to load my chair in the connecting flight. So I was pushed to yet another check-in where the ground staff who was pushing me had an altercation with the girl at the check-in desk. The check-in was subject to stringent checks similar to American Airports. As the ground staff was pushing me towards the check-in desk, she whispered in my ear, “if she asks you to take off your shoes, tell her you can’t… As a disabled person they can’t force you to do anything”. “Sir can you take off your shoes” the lady at the check-in desk looking like Janelle Monáe cried out. I thought they looked alike, maybe it was the similar hair style effect. “Unfortunately I cant” I retorted, boy oh boy, she was apoplectic. She said to me with a voice festered with anger “if you can’t take them off then you can’t go through”. Back in my mind I wanted to compliment her looks but after the unfriendly remark I didn’t. I therefore asked to speak to the manager and when the manager came, I was given a green light to go through without any further checks. Whence I was taken to board my flight. After around an 8 hours flight we landed at JFK Airport.

Continue reading “A trip to USOpen2018: Expected to run an errand without my legs”

How to take control of the situation

Continuing from the last blog post about fear -An American-Portuguese Neuroscientist named Antonio Damasio found out that our bodies react to fear and stress before our minds do, the empirical study was carried out in 1997. Having said that it is critical to pay attention to our body awareness, and read the signals in our body in order to take control. The secret to mind control is to realise the manifestation of fear in our bodies.

⁃ Biologically, our bodies react by releasing a stress hormone (cortisol). Dr Jill Bolte, a neuroanatomist in her book; My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Sceintist’s Personal Journey (Jill Bolte Taylor).

⁃ she states that

⁃ “When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90 second chemical process that happens in the body; after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop”.

⁃ Something happens in the external world and chemicals are flushed through your body which puts it on full alert. For those chemicals to totally flush out of the body it takes less than 90 seconds.

⁃ This means that for 90 seconds you can watch the process happening, you can feel it happening, and then you can watch it go away.

⁃ After that, if you continue to feel fear, anger, and so on, you need to look at the thoughts that you’re thinking that are re-stimulating the circuitry that is resulting in you having this physiological response over and over again.”

⁃ I myself I know I’m in fear when my hair stands on it’s end, at times shortening of breath and losing balance when standing. Different people react to fear differently it has been reported that some experience tightening of chest, tightening of throat, rush on your throat, excessive sebum (white staff which comes out of the pores everytime you squeeze your nose or chin, gross right?…unfounded I just made that up).

⁃ Within the 90 second window learn how to calm yourself down. Here is what to do to address the moment of fear 1) simply breath slowly and count to 90 2) breath slowly and get up and walk around. 3) hug someone you know for 90 secs

Fear of rejection

◦ First off I say what I say not because I’m better than you but just sharing the love. Hoping that somehow, somewhere someone will benefit from what I share.

◦ Continuing from my blog about fear…We try to fulfil our lives with temporary fixes like a half hearted date or a flirt. Pointedly, the notion that worldly materials can fulfil our lives or make us lives rosy or better is consistent and quite wrong. That’s living in cloud cuckoo land or living a fantasy. Things like impulsive shopping – buying things that you don’t really need; hoading, going on endless dates with multiple partners. Wanting more and more telling yourself if I only get this and that or this one and that one I will be ok. When you fall into this trap you would have lost a control in you. Once you get that you might find yourself wanting more of that and before you know it’s an addiction. We all live on a grid and we have a pattern to follow it runs on imperative biological. mechanisms. Like food, sex and that ond if those bit’s becomes uncontrollable to the point of causing distraction, pose and reflect behind our damaged perceptions there is a great fear that pertains to a core belief, this is the key line in a code of our misery, if we crack the code and address it we can be free from the bondage of fear.

Fear of rejection by women

For instance behind the fact that I’m still single there is a fear of rejection to some extent, the fear that the people I’m attracted to would never love me because I’m disabled, the fear of being heartbroken, the fear of inadequacy, fear of taking risks and that. 5:

◦ She is not attracted to me, so what? Fair play, that’s her opinion and wish her the best in finding mr Fantastic. I will get my heart broken, so what? It can be put together- give it time to heal and move on. I sustained a brain injury, so what? Difference is what make this world. I’m not adequate- man’s disabled, so what? This kind of defective thinking is sad or worse. To address inadequacy I tried to climb the ladder, thinking that if I achieve x,y,z I will be ok but after achieving that I found myself still climbing the ladder. However ain’t nothing wrong with climbing rather than being stuck in the swamp and hopefully one day you will settle at the beach (the swamp symbolises despair, Climbing is building your carrier, and when you settle at the beach is when you finally relax and enjoy the fruits of your labour).

◦ I’m no stranger to taking risks and I know the importance of going an extra mile. I know that if you take deeper risks you get deeper rewards and that if you go an extra mile there is less traffic. However because of fear of rejection I don’t take deeper risks and I’m reluctant to go an extra mile to ask out who I want. To be continued…