Fighting through hard times


Aged 33, following years of drinking and a series of personal crises, went into a coma in 2011. As Ben said “At the time, I was a hopeless alcoholic”. He tried various ways to stop drinking, but couldn’t manage it.

Ben spent almost a month in a coma at Eastbourne District General Hospital. Initially, he couldn’t move, nor speak and had a tracheostomy and was peg fed. Ben’s first main memory after the coma, was on his birthday in August where he remembers family and friends around him and people asking him whether he could squeeze their hand if he could hear them and blink once for “yes” and twice for “no”.

When Ben was admitted to Glenside’s NRU on 7th September 2011, no-one was sure what level of recovery was possible. He had severe muscle weakness, so couldn’t feed himself or stand up. He also had frontal lobe dysfunctions, which affected his executive functioning including memory impairment.

Ben was determined to make every effort to make a good recovery. After one week with Physio help he was able to stand. He dedicated himself to the exercise programme set by the Physio team and carried out the exercises religiously. He also got input from the on-site psychology team and within a few months was transferred off the high dependency unit, into one of the simulated supported living bungalows in Horizon Close. By this time Ben had started to walk with crutches, his speech had returned and he had had the tracheostomy removed and could feed himself.

He became increasingly independent and joined the local public leisure centre where he worked out almost daily in the gym. In March 2012, he completed his first half marathon in Hastings in 2 hours and 47 minutes. What an achievement!

Ben’s carer’s at Glenside put his speedy progress down to his hard work and dedication.The Senior Dietician, was one of the people who worked closely with Ben during his time at Glenside, who said “Ben was one of the most determined patients I have cared for. He progressed from being fed by peg tube onto a normal diet. However , he was not content with just “eating normally” he was focused on completely changing his attitude towards the type of foods he consumed. He wanted to eat healthily with the aim of building up muscle to improve both his recovery and his physical fitness. The fact that he has completed marathons and managed his latest cycle ride since leaving Glenside, is proof of his on-going commitment to turn around his life.”

On discharge from Glenside in May 2012, Ben moved into social housing local to where he used to live and started to rebuild his life. He now works in a residential home as a chef. Such was his success, that he and his former partner have now got back together and are expecting their second child.

As if that wasn’t enough, Ben decided to cycle back to visit Glenside via the South Downs Way to Winchester, raising funds for the Ickly Pickles charity that helps to purchase equipment for neonatal units for premature babies across the UK. If you wish to donate to Ben’s Just Giving account, please go to the following link:

Ben is understandably proud of what he has achieved and said “Glenside is a fantastic place that helped me to get my life back on track. I came to you still not being able to stand and you helped me both physically and mentally.”