Ewan’s road to recovery

kenny and ewan triathlon

Kenny Thoms and Ewan Currie after their Triathlon success

Ewan Currie was 41 years old, had a demanding job and enjoyed an active, sporting lifestyle. Married, with three boys under ten he was helping at the local mini-rugby for youngsters, when he noticed his right ankle dragging a little. He had suffered various sports injuries and had arranged to see an orthopaedic specialist when suddenly he became very ill, losing more control of his right leg and then having a series of seizures in quick succession. Immediately admitted to hospital, a CAT scan revealed a grey area on his brain which required a further MRI scan for a complete diagnosis. Ewan describes the 24 hours waiting for the MRI scan as the most difficult moment of his life. He spent the time getting all areas of his family and work life sorted out, preparing for the worst.

The MRI revealed that Ewan had a large tumour on his brain, which would require an operation, but it was non-malignant. Ewan described his entire experience in three distinct stages. The diagnosis was the first stage which he only has a positive outlook of now. This positive emotion helped him have the best chance of recovery – he felt lucky that his tumour was not cancer. The second phase was to set about getting himself mentally and physically fit for an operation in 4 weeks time. The operation posed many risks but Ewan dealt with this phase by placing complete faith and trust in his doctors and underwent the operation on May 8th 2015.

Ewan survived the operation but was left with no muscle control at all in his right leg. Self –confessed as very stubborn by nature, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Ewan has nothing but praise for the NHS but private health care insurance allowed him to recuperate in a private medical centre which was less stressful that an NHS ward. The emotional trauma from the brain operation is just as important as the physical problems faced. When there was initially no improvement in the use of his leg, a nurse gave Ewan the much needed perspective which for a moment had been lost due to the stress and emotion felt post the operation. The perspective given was simple – that the problem was not in the leg per se, but in the area of the brain that controlled the leg. He needed to allow the brain to recover as this offered the best chance for the leg to recover. It was in discussing this that the way forward was identified as neurological physiotherapy. Understanding that it was his brain that was injured, and needed treatment, was the third and final stage on his road to recovery. This gave Ewan a focal point and something to channel all his energies into to support his recovery.

His physiotherapy treatment began in hospital and started with assisted movements and massage to help his brain remember the function of his leg. With daily practice his leg muscles started to recall the job they had forgotten; how to stand up, get up from the floor, stand on crutches and then, eventually, walk with the aid of an ankle brace. On discharge from hospital, Ewan was introduced to Neuro Physio Scotland and his specialist physiotherapist Kenny Thoms and so began several months of one-to-one treatment. The treatment obviously has a large component of physical therapy, however Kenny also gave Ewan considerable emotional support, specifically context and hope.

Kenny felt that Ewan worked incredibly hard throughout his rehabilitation, constantly pushing the boundaries and making incredible gains in his right leg. Focused work on activating and strengthening weak muscles in the right leg was quickly followed by practice climbing stairs, jogging, hopping, cycling, swimming, bouncing and sprinting. It reached the stage where Kenny was having to work really hard to keep up! So Ewan challenged Kenny to take part in the Bishopbriggs Triathlon with him, a first for both of them.

The pair were sponsored by friends and family to raise funds for the Neurosurgical unit at the Edinburgh Western General. The money raised (over £8000) was used to purchase specialist tools to support brain surgery or for research focused on improving care and treatment for anyone diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Ewan completed the Triathlon on May 8th 2016, a year to the day from his operation.