PULLED THROUGH: Owen Bonney found a way through the darkness with his family, friends and church.
PULLED THROUGH: Owen Bonney found a way through the darkness with his family, friends and church. Jonno Colfs

Warwick man fights epilepsy, memory loss to regain normal life

IN 2003 at just 52 years old, teacher Owen Bonney's life was on a knife-edge.

He'd already beaten cancer 20 years earlier, but this unexpected diagnosis would change his life forever, and surprisingly in the end, for the better.

After experiencing severe headaches and numbness, Mr Bonney saw a neurologist and discovered he had a chronic subdural haematoma.

Mr Bonney said the lining of his brain was a quarter filled with pooling blood.

"I have a few holes in my skull where they drained the blood out," he said.

"I like to say I've been vacuumed and brainwashed."

After a successful operation, Mr Bonney developed post-traumatic dementia and as if that wasn't enough, epilepsy.

"Suddenly I'd forgotten how to do the simplest things," he said.

"I had to learn how to write again.

"For a school teacher, who taught people how to write, this was extremely distressing.

"I started having seizures and it wasn't the first one that was terrifying, it was every one after that.

"It was a massive stress on the brain as you realised what was happening and remembering the feeling it left you with last time."

Mr Bonney, unable to live a normal life took to his bed and there he stayed for 18 months.

"It was horrible," he said.

"But my friends, family and my church helped me through the dark times.

"I knew I had someone watching over me.

"All up it took about four years before I could start functionally relatively normally again."

Mr Bonney said his darkest times came through stress.

"I couldn't follow conversations," he said.

"I would forget where I parked the car and wonder how I was going to get home.

"The anxiety, frustration and depression I felt from even the smallest things filled my head.

"Recovery was a long, slow process but I've achieved more since then than I ever did before."

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