Stricken fa­ther takes first steps

Ill­ness left dad paral­ysed, but he’s fight­ing back:

Glamorgan Gazette - - Front Page - ANNA LEWIS [email protected]­

DAVID BRAHAM had been burst­ing with pride as he watched as his sixyear-old son play rugby at Swansea’s Lib­erty Sta­dium.

When he started to feel un­well, he sim­ply put it down to a dodgy stom­ach.

But within a mat­ter of days he went from be­ing a fit, healthy dad to be­ing in an in­duced coma.

Now, more than six months later, the Brid­gend driving in­struc­tor has taken his first steps out­side hospi­tal as part of a mam­moth jour­ney to walk, talk and breathe on his own again.

David was left paral­ysed from the nose down when a tin­gling feel­ing started to spread through his body af­ter watch­ing his son.

As his con­di­tion be­gan to de­te­ri­o­rate he was rushed to in­ten­sive care.

It was only later that med­i­cal staff dis­cov­ered the fit­ness fa­natic had been suf­fer­ing from food poi­son­ing campy­lobac­ter – which led to the rare au­toim­mune dis­or­der Guil­lain-Barre syn­drome.

David, 40, said the paral­y­sis started in April this year when he started feel­ing pins and nee­dles in his hands and feet.

At the time, the weightlift­ing en­thu­si­ast and his fam­ily just thought he had a 24-hour bug. But things went quickly went down­hill and a few days later the dad-of-two found him­self un­able to get out of bed.

He said: “I had tin­gling pains in my leg and foot and hands and then I lost all feel­ing. I was paral­ysed from the nose down. It was food poi­son­ing but they can’t tell me what it was, which of course is frus­trat­ing.” At his worst point, David, known as Dai to fam­ily and friends, found him­self un­able to breathe with­out a ven­ti­la­tor, and with­out a voice.

He said: “It’s the scari­est feel­ing in the world. You are ba­si­cally locked in your own body.

“It was hor­ri­ble, I couldn’t com­mu­ni­cate with any­one. I could blink to say yes or no or use a let­ter card. Then I would use let­ters on a board to spell out cer­tain words.

“I came off the ven­ti­la­tor about four-and-a-half months later and got a voice speech valve to talk through. I had my voice back, but when you speak through the valve you sound ro­botic. I only got my voice back five months into the ill­ness.”

An avid sports­man, Dai’s old rou­tine would see him take on five or six gym ses­sions ev­ery week. Un­able to move, over the first few months in hospi­tal his weight dropped from 16 stones to just over nine stones as his mus­cles be­gan to dis­ap­pear.

David said: “They said on av­er­age you lose 77% of your mus­cle when you have [Guil­lain-Barre syn­drome]. I don’t like what I see at the mo­ment. I want to get back to the gym train­ing. If I make a full re­cov­ery, and they seem to think I will, I want to take up cy­cling.” For Dai and his fam­ily the past seven months have been un­de­ni­ably hard.

De­spite ev­ery­thing, how­ever, there have been two peo­ple in par­tic­u­lar keep­ing him go­ing – his four-year-old daugh­ter Ge­or­gia and seven-yearold son Ju­nior.

Dai said: “My daugh­ter and son, my whole fam­ily, have been a rock for me. When I have re­ally dark days I think of my chil- dren. It was very easy to give up, and when I wanted to give up, it was my chil­dren that saved me.”

On Novem­ber 5, Ju­nior cel­e­brated his birth­day. A few days pre­vi­ously, his fam­ily gath­ered to hold a party to cel­e­brate the oc­ca­sion with fire­works and hot dogs. It was a day Dai had been adamant from the start he would not miss, and his de­ter­mi­na­tion to be there saw him leave hospi­tal grounds for the first time since April.

He said: “My aim was to get back home for that evening and I got to be there for the day. I had to come back to hospi­tal af­ter­wards, but now I’m hav­ing nights where I can stay at home with them.

“When they ar­rived they were in com­plete shock. Ju­nior just came straight over and gave me a hug and grabbed on to me. My daugh­ter was just shocked. “She just thinks ev­ery time I’m home I’m home for good.”

Brid­gend driving in­struc­tor David Braham with his chil­dren Ju­nior, seven, and Ge­or­gia, four

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