WHEN Tim Bond woke up in a strange hospital room to see traumatised faces staring back at him through a glass window, he thought he was having a nightmare.
Days earlier the 39-year-old, successful company director had it all – he went to the gym six days a week, travelled for business and enjoyed partying with loved ones.
But within hours he went from living life to the full to laying in a coma with a brain injury.
There was no car crash, fall, or attack, and he sustained no physical wounds.
Instead, an infection had attacked his brain and robbed Tim of his precious memories.
He suffered encephalitis, the rare sudden inflammation of the brain, which in his case, was suspected to be caused by the simple cold sore virus.
“One minute I felt like I was on top of the world then very suddenly everything changed.
“I woke up terrified. I had reduced mobility on my right side, I lost the hearing in one ear, I lost part of my vision and my speech was quite bad.
“But the worst part was I’d forgotten a lot of my past which was completely overwhelming.
“There were people and memories I had absolutely no recollection of at all.”
It happened in 2007 when Tim was in Spain on a business trip.
He began feeling unwell on the plane suffering hot sweats and cold shivers.
After lunch he fell asleep for six hours in the hotel room.
However determined to not ruin the trip, he agreed to go out for dinner.
“I felt quite confused and had trouble thinking things through, but I did the usual ‘no, no, I’m fine’and didn’t want to ruin the trip.
“When we walked up the high street, my right leg started to fail, so I was dragging it behind me.”
At the restaurant, though, things got worse – Tim felt his face drop and began slurring his speech. “I went into sheer panic mode. I did a terrible thing for a 39-year-old man, I phoned up my mum on her mobile and said ‘mum, it’s Tim I’m having a stroke’. I didn’t know what was happening.”
Tim was rushed to hospital where he spent three days in a coma. When he awoke, he realised the extent of his brain injury.
He was unable to recognise people, had no idea what his job was and the man who once lived for cooking extravagant dishes for his loved ones, had no recollection of how to boil an egg, how to turn the oven on or even how to feed himself.
“I was told it was thought to be the cold sore virus – herpes simplex encephalitis.
Though it didn’t manifest in a cold sore, the virus travelled up and infected my brain because I was stressed and overworked.
“My recovery was slow and fraught with pain, stress and feelings of complete hopelessness. Learning to do everything again was challenging and frustrating, as I was continually reminded that they were all things I could do so proficiently before.”
Terrified and spiralling into depression back at home in Southampton, Tim reached for help and phoned The Encephalitis Society helpline. From that moment he realised he didn’t have to be a victim.
Tim, says: “I realised I was incredibly lucky to be alive. I thought that was my lot, but I knew somewhere deep within me, I could find the pluck, passion and enthusiasm for life I had before and I just had to reapply that.
“I refused to let my brain injury beat me.”
Unable to drive because he lost his licence due to the seizures, Tim got a taxi into his office, Upfront and Personnel recruitment agency in Chandler’s Ford every day.
He attended a memory clinic founded by the charity where he got equipment to make his life easier including a sensor that reminded him to pick up his keys, wallet and mobile phone when he left the house.
He resorted to making lists and relying on those around him to fill him in on lost memories.
And remembering the joy he got from cooking, he went back to basics digging out Delia Smith’s How To Cook to relearn his passion.
Tim, who worked as a chef after school, explains: “Cooking has always been a passion of mine, it’s like therapy for me, and I was determined to rekindle that and learn to cook for myself again.”
Tim Bond's crispy cod bake
Tim began documenting memories by taking photographs so, though he may not remember the experience, he’d always see how happy it made him – and that included posting snaps on Twitter of the delicious meals he prepared.
Tim, who is now the Hampshire regional representative for The Encephalitis Society and has so far raised thousands for the charity, describes how those photos caught the eye of his friends and the CEO of the charity, Dr Ava Easton, who all urged him to create a cookery book.
With that, Tim teamed up with the charity to enlist the help of celebrities including James Martin, Simon Rogan, Rebecca Adlington and Tonia Buxton as well as Prestat Chocolate to submit recipes.
Tim pictured at the launch of his cookbook with Tonia Buxton, Dr Ava Easton and Rebecca Adlington
One year later Food for thought… and brain, a selection of 29 recipes, is published and all proceeds will go to the charity.
Despite hours of work when Tim meticulously shopped for and prepared all the recipes to be photographed, Tim can’t help but smile because the book represents how far he has come in seven years.
He says: “Of course sometimes I do wish I could remember things but you have to get on with life.”
Dr Ava Easton, Chief Executive of The Encephalitis Society, says: “Encephalitis is a devastating condition that robs people of their lives.
“This book will raise a huge amount of awareness, whilst also providing our charity with a valuable source of income. We’re incredibly proud of Tim, and his dedication to this project. We are so grateful to everyone who has backed the book, and enabled us to create something so amazing.”
For more information or to buy the book at £15 go to The Encephalitis Society at www.encephalitis.info
WHAT IS ENCEPHALITIS?
Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain.
It is usually caused by an infection or by the body’s own immune system attacking the brain in error.
It affects 6,000 people in England alone each year, with hundreds of thousands of cases worldwide.
It can begin with flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature and a headache.
Other symptoms include confusion, disorientation, seizures and changes in behaviour.
Without urgent treatment up to 8 in 10 people will die, and even with urgent treatment up to 3 in 10 people will die.
Most people are left with an acquired brain injury resulting in changes to personality, memory loss and epilepsy.
The Encephalitis Society is the only resource of its kind in the world and provides dedicated support and information to patients, families and medical professionals around the world.