Student Ben Angus found his world turned upside down when he suffered a stroke at the age of just 20.
But thanks to the expertise of brain doctors, he is back on his feet and training for the Morrisons Great South Run to thank the medics who saved his life.
Ben, of Western Way in Gosport, was born with an arteriovenous malformation which meant veins in his brain had not formed properly.
He and his family were unaware of the condition until he suffered his severe stroke.
Ben, who is studying at the University of Kent, was at a friend’s house in Canterbury when he began to feel unwell.
‘I had stayed at a friend’s house overnight and the next day we were watching Braveheart when I lost all feeling in my right arm,’ he said.
‘I remember I kept saying to him that I didn’t feel well and after that I was very sick. What happened after that is all a blur.
‘I remember seeing a paramedic and then being at hospital in Canterbury. Next I was taken to King’s College Hospital in London and for the first three days I don’t remember anything at all apart from being sick.
‘I was told the bleed was very deep in the brain. It was an awful experience. In hospital all the lights seemed painfully bright and it felt like there was so much noise.’
After 11 days in hospital, Ben’s long road to recovery began – but at first it looked as if there was little hope of his condition being treated.
‘After the stroke the doctors said there wasn’t anything they could do apart from “watchful waiting” which is really doing nothing. They said it’s too deep and too complicated to operate and it could burst at any time, causing another stroke.
‘I felt like it could happen at any time – every time I got a little twinge in my head I thought that was it. It was like a time bomb waiting to go off.’
Hope came in the form of a letter from experts at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, who asked Ben to go in for a consultation.
They went ahead with a programme of ‘gamma-knife’ surgery – an alternative to traditional brain surgery in which targeted doses of radiation are used to seal up the veins.
Two years later, the poorly-formed veins have been mostly obliterated, and soon the tiny portion that is left will be gone.
Ben has been left with epilepsy, a partial loss of vision in his right eye and problems with his memory.
But he is so grateful to the staff who treated him at the hospital that he plans to overcome his problems to finish the run on October 25 to raise funds for the unit. ‘It’s been a long road and it’s uncertain what will happen,’ Ben said. ‘I’m just taking it day by day. My friends and family have been amazing in supporting me.
‘If I do anything physical like running it means that afterwards I can’t do anything for a good hour or so. It’s hard to describe but my brain feels like it’s in a spin.
‘Doing the run is harder for me mentally than it is physically – but I want to thank them. The staff at Sheffield have been amazing.’
To sponsor Ben, visit his page at justgiving.com/BenjiAngus
n The Morrisons Great South Run takes place in Portsmouth on Sunday, October 25. Enter at greatrun.org/south