A snap decision a year ago to jump on a motorcycle late at night and pick up a mobile phone proved to be a life-changing event for Tadhgh Stack, of Arkles Bay.
“I don’t remember anything about that night – in fact, I have no memory for about a week before the accident. But what I’m told is that I got a message about 11.30pm that someone had found my phone so I jumped on my Vespa and went to get it, and hit a parked car.”
While the damage initially looked superficial – just a black eye and a few scratches on the helmet – Tadhgh’s head took the full brunt of the impact causing serious brain injury. The doctor described the damage as similar to Shaken Baby Syndrome, affecting the delicate blood vessels in the brain.
Tadhgh was in a coma for a month and then spent three months in a rehabilitation centre in Ranui.
While the accident turned his world upside down, with all thoughts of applying to start a law degree put on hold, Tadhgh is surprisingly positive, as well as philosophical, about the effects.
“It’s a waste of time looking back and thinking about the ‘if onlys’. The only thing you can influence is your future.
“I wasn’t unhappy before the accident, but I think I was a little directionless and took a lot of granted.”
Tadhgh says he feels like the shackles, which were influencing many of his decisions, have been taken off. He has joined an acting class, is rehearsing for a Full Month Show in November and thinking of applying to study for a Diploma in Radio Broadcasting, starting next year.
“I don’t really care anymore what people think. I just live in the day and accept that whatever happens happens.”
The accident has left Tadhgh with a slight speech impediment and the right side of his body is weaker and less coordinated. He also gets fatigued more easily.
“Recovery from a brain injury is very individual and it is difficult to predict how much more progress I will make. I do believe that having a positive attitude is really important though.”
Tadhgh says he also feels the work he has been doing in the gym at the Leisure Centre in Stanmore Bay has played an important part in his recovery.
“It’s an awesome facility and the staff are very supportive,” he says.
“My Granny goes to the Never Too Old programme at the centre so I started going with her and working out in the gym. Initially, it was just for the aesthetics – the aim was to look better. But, then I was given a programme to follow and started to do pool work with the physio. I am now going about four times a week, which includes a spin class.
“Physically I feel better and stronger, but when I leave the gym, I also feel so much better mentally. It is so much better than sitting on the couch and watching movies all day.”
Tadhgh says there is now no time for negativity in his life.
“My little brother and I love to watch The Regular Show, an animated sitcom, and there is a character in the show who says, ‘Wear positivity as your armour and you will never fail’. It’s a great saying and sums up how I want to live my life as well.”