Back in 2010 Ewan started having really painful headaches , they got steadily worse until he was being sick from the pain. We spoke to the doctor and it was discovered that he had a brain tumour.
A few months later Ewan went through 12 hours of surgery on his brain to remove the tumour.
The recovery from this sort of procedure can take a long time. His neck and jaw muscles had been affected and he needed a lot of physiotherapy.
It seemed like he had recovered well and family life returned to normal, but two years later Ewan required another eight hours of surgery.
It was only after the second surgery that we became aware of the long term effects. It wasn’t just physical issues, but problems with concentration and memory.
Like when we’re all trying to get ready in the mornings and you ask Ewan and his siblings to go to the bathroom and get their shoes and coat. He might only remember one thing from the list. It was just small things like this that we noticed at first.
Later Ewan’s teacher noticed how easily distracted he was in class. He would be given a task and five minutes later he would be staring out the classroom window. Ewan couldn’t remember what the teacher had asked him to do, and if there was a lot of activity or excitement in the classroom it could be quite overwhelming.
We heard about the Child Brain Injury Trust though Ewan’s physiotherapist. We contacted them last summer and gave them examples of Ewan’s difficulties.
It was like ticking a list of the common side effects of brain injury. The surgery that Ewan had resulted in what is called an acquired brain injury (or ABI) due to the impact it had on the delicate brain tissue.
For us as parents it was a relief to find the answer for what Ewan was going though, and to find out that we were right to be worried. Sometimes we still think he’s just a typical little boy, but then when you compare him to his younger brother you know that there is more to it than that.
The Child Brain Injury Trust spoke to his teacher, and his special needs teacher to go through the difficulties he has and suggest strategies that might help. They also suggested strategies we could try at home, such as using a list of pictures rather than verbal instructions. It’s easier for Ewan to remember this way.
Ewan really enjoys painting and drawing and when we heard about an art project for the Trust we knew he would want to take part.
“Kids from all over the UK are getting involved and the paintings will be initially displayed in the award winning Town Hall Hotel, Bethnal Green, London and from the response we’ve had so far, we’re hoping to get the exhibition touring the country later in the year,” explains Gayle Baird from the Trust.
Ewan was asked to paint a picture to tell people what it’s like to have a brain injury. He decided to do two paintings one to show how it’s hard to concentrate with everything going on around him and one to show that it’s hard to know how to behave sometimes. Like being noisy in a library!
We don’t know what the future holds for Ewan, we just have to wait and see as he matures. The main thing is that we are just grateful he is still alive and that he’s healthy and he’s happy.
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“We can supply information, support and training to anyone affected by childhood acquired brain injury.
“This includes the child or young person themselves, their family and the professionals who support them” says Gayle Baird.