Paul McMahon was celebrating his birthday in March 2014, but he can’t remember the day.
“We went onto the roof through a window. We did not plan anything unusual, I assume and we just chatted as we sat under the stars in Sydney,” he says, piecing the birthday party together. “Then in one instance I got up and stumbled. The roof had no railings and my left arm was in bandage, as I had broken it three weeks prior. I had no real control on that situation, I simply stumbled and fell three and a half floors off a roof. I landed on the pavement and that one second of natural reality affected my life.”
Paul has written a book about his experience living with the brain injury he acquired as a result of that fall.
“I am basically a workaholic and I felt it annoying that I could not work the moment I woke up in the fourth week,” he told Blank. “I studied communications and I always wrote.”
“The book I have written tells much of this journey,” he said. “Everything from love, work, travel and life is in there – all of me is in there.”
“In simple physical terms I broke my leg (now there is a metal rod inside), broke my arm AGAIN, internal injuries to pelvis and fear of my lungs not working as they were once full of fluid. My left eye once was cloudy when I looked through it but now it is fine, no one told me why but I assume that was the brain injury at work,” he said.
“Recovery and rehabilitation have been long but I was a very lucky boy. I have recovered at such speed that it is almost unfathomable,” Paul said, noting that the Gold Coast featured heavily in his recovery.
“In the beginning I had memory and attention issues. This was hard as I forgot the beginning of 2014 and all sorts of things like passwords and who I was exactly – the nitty gritty details.”
“Once I healed remarkably well, I was then treated as a stupid person. As though I couldn’t see or do things as normal, so I was ignored in my own reality and imprisoned in a way,” he said.
“I look as I once did and when I tell people they almost collapse. I have facial nerve damage that is healing and a new scar above my eye. It made me think of what could happen – not only my own story, it is the story of many millions.”
Paul is hoping for his book to be published in the US and for it to be international.
“I chose the US because I feel it is a story that is global. It is a story of humanity, and not an Australian story alone.”
“Too many people suffer from brain injuries and no-one knows, cares or understands. That is just wrong.”
“I remember in hospital listening to a woman sleeping on a bed in the corridor. She grunted but could not speak. She will not write the next bestseller, but she deserves the attention one would bring. She is not alone.”
“Brain injury… is a true story for so many but is overlooked as a non-event. It is not a non-event, it is simply an overly complicated event with different stories and realities despite (being) the same injury. The brain is so complicated and I think it is time we noticed it more!”
Paul is hoping his book will be picked up by a publisher soon, but in the meantime, you can follow his journey at facebook.com/paulmcmahonauthor.