Three years ago, 33-year-old David Thomas sustained a brain injury while playing rugby. It put his career and relationship with his wife, Helen, under increasing pressure as he struggled to cope. Today, David is slowly rebuilding his life, with Helen providing ever-present support. Recognising the role Helen has played in helping him to get this far, David chose an imaginative way to say thank you...
In 2012, David was playing rugby when a fierce tackle caused a severe whiplash effect as David fell backwards, forcing his brain forward against his skull.
"I remember having an instant headache and feeling incredibly dizzy after the hit," said David. "I didn't realise at the time how serious it could be and I adopted the stereotypical 'macho man' approach of taking painkillers after the match, with a few pints, before going home.
"Three weeks later, I suffered another dizzy spell and fell to the ground, spraining my ankle.
"I went to the doctors about my ankle, but when he asked me questions about the dizziness and headaches, he referred me to Newham General Hospital in London. Doctors there identified a severe head trauma caused by a suspected concussion and bleed in my brain."
Before his brain injury, David had managed gyms and had been a health and fitness trainer. For nearly a year after the incident, he tried to continue life as normal and ignore the headaches, mood swings and dizzy spells that were caused by his brain injury. However, he was eventually forced to press pause on his career.
"It was very hard both for me and Helen when I stopped working," said David.
"Our entire relationship dynamic changed. Helen became the primary breadwinner, which put pressure on her and, while I know it sounds daft, made me feel slightly emasculated.
I felt as though I had lost my identity.
With the support of Helen, David is slowly rebuilding his fitness career. This year, the couple marked their five-year wedding anniversary with a trip to Egypt. But, on their return, romantic David had something even more special planned to thank his wife for her unwavering support.
Having lured Helen out to a local restaurant, David surprised his wife by leading a supporting cast of opera singers and members of the Hackney Colliery Brass Band in a touching rendition of the couple's wedding song, Rule the World.
"Helen has been the most incredible support for me and she truly deserved a public display of affection," said David. "It has been a horrendous few years, but my brain injury has taught me to value the time I spend with my beautiful wife."
Thankfully, the romantic flash-mob scene was caught on camera and David is now asking people who view the film to make a donation to Headway.
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