AN INSPIRATIONAL man has fought his way back from a crippling brain condition to land a job caring for residents at a £7 million dementia centre of excellence.
Just over 15 years ago 46-year-old David Edwards, from Llanllyfni, near Caernarfon, was struck down by a massive sub-arachnoid haemorrhage, or bleed, which left him with some brain damage.
He was in a coma for three weeks and at one stage doctors told his family there was no hope of him recovering and that he would probably be left in a vegetative state.
But through sheer guts and determination and the loving support of his wife, David battled his way back to fitness.
So much so, that he’s now been taken on as a care practitioner at the flagship Bryn Seiont Newydd, a 71-bed purpose built care centre in Pant Road which supports a range of dementia and mental health needs.
The bilingual centre is the brainchild of Mario Kreft MBE and his wife, Gill, proprietors of the award-winning Pendine Park care organisation, and is bringing 100 jobs to the area.
First phase of the development, providing accommodation for 35 people, is now fully open and a team of 60 staff have been recruited to care for them.
Amongst them is David who is now working part-time as he builds his confidence and experience with the aim of eventually securing a management role.
He and his wife Louise, who has also just started work as a care support worker at Bryn Seiont, have a 21-year-old daughter, Jade, and a son of 16, Jonathan.
For a number of years David had worked a welder travelling around the UK but in 1994 had to give up his job due to what doctors suspected was epilepsy.
His condition was later identified as an early sign of an arteriovenous malformation – known as an AVM – a rare condition caused by an entanglement of nerves and veins in the brain.
In November 2000 the AVM led to a massive brain haemorrhage, which struck him in the early hours of the morning.
David was rushed into intensive care at Ysbty Gwynedd in Bangor and the initial verdict was that he was unlikely to survive.
“In fact at one stage things were so serious that my wife was asked if she would consider donating my organs in the event of my death,” David recalled.
“But I held on and was then in a coma for about three weeks.
“When I came round I couldn’t speak, walk or even eat and was being fed on liquids.
“However, within a few months I had recovered enough to use a wheelchair, which I gradually swapped for a walking frame, crutches and then walking sticks.
“I had physiotherapy to improve my strength and balance and speech therapy to help me talk again but the recovery was quite slow and I didn’t feel really strong again until about a year ago.
“That’s when I felt fit enough to work again but, obviously, not in my old job as a welder.
“I was taken on as a care assistant at a small residential home in Caernarfon and then when I saw the job at Bryn Seiont advertised late last year I must have been one of the first to apply.
“I was delighted to be given a job as a care practitioner and started on my training last October.
“I’m now working 30 hours a week but as I get more confident I hope to build up the hours.”
David added: “I still have the AVM but the doctors tell me it’s getting smaller.
“Apparently, it was something I was born with and doesn’t affect many people.
“During my recovery I had lots of specialist treatment at hospitals in Liverpool, Warrington and even Sheffield.
“Apart from that, what helped me through it all was the strong support I received from my wife Louise who has worked in the care sector for a number of years and is also now working at Bryn Seiont where she’s currently doing her training to start as a carer in the second phase which is due to open shortly.
“She encouraged me to do things during my recovery that I didn’t think were possible for me – and sometimes had to shout at me to help me along!
“I have already been given some responsibility by my manager and I am eager to accept more. My aim is get into management in the near future.”
David is full of praise for the way Pendine Park has taken him on and helped his recovery.
He said: “I am very proud and extremely grateful to them because they have given me the opportunity to prove that brain damage doesn’t have to restrict or deny any opportunities that arise.
“I’m getting lots of backing and my managers and other colleagues at Bryn Seiont have all been brilliant. They trust me and I don’t want to let them down.
“I love all the residents I care for and they have also been really supportive since I started my job.”
Bryn Seiont manager, Sandra Evans said: “David is doing really well. He’s currently working part-time but wants to do more as he gets fitter and stronger.
“It’s also very good to hear that it’s his aspiration to eventually get into management.
“He has made a remarkable recovery from a very debilitating condition and we are all delighted to have him working with us.”
Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft said: “We’re delighted to have David as a member of the team here at Bryn Seiont.
“His recovery is a remarkable and inspirational story of courage and perseverance against the medical odds.
“Pendine Park and the social care sector in general is an ideal place for inspirational people like David to work.”