Galashiels stroke victim’s first words for months left medics shocked
A foul-mouthed outburst is generally cause for disapproval or even a reprimand – but not for Galashiels football fan Darren Thomson.
Instead of earning the Hibernian supporter a ticking-off, a sweary denunciation of Edinburgh rivals Heart of Midlothian delivered out of the blue was greeted by laughter and even welcomed.
That’s because they were his first words for almost four months after suffering a stroke, the 22-year-old has revealed, so even the fact that he turned the air blue didn’t leave the shocked medics there to witness his outburst seeing red.
Darren lost all feeling in the left side of his body just 15 minutes after developing a headache and he was rushed to hospital.
Scans there revealed he had suffered a stroke and had a bleed on his brain caused by a blood clot the size of a 10p coin.
He had two operations to help drain excess fluid in his brain, but he couldn’t speak for over three months due to having a tube down his throat and brain damage.
That silence came to an end after Darren heard hospital staff talking about Craig Levein’s side and blurted out: “Hearts are s***e”.
Now, over a year since that shock exclamation, his speech is getting better every day.
He’s still wheelchair-bound, but he’s hoping to be on his feet to be his dad’s best man at his wedding later this year.
Darren said: “It was so scary not being able to speak.
“It’s so hard to put into words what it’s like not being able to speak.
“I was so confused – I didn’t even know what was happening or anything – but when I had a Hearts doctor looking after me, someone had said ‘what’s Hearts?’ and I just said ‘Hearts are s***e’.
“It just came to me. I was so happy that I spoke out, and everyone laughed.
“It felt so good to just hear my own voice again.”
Darren was at home on June 5, 2017, watching YouTube videos with a friend when he started to feel a headache at the back and right side of his head.
He thought nothing of it until minutes later when he couldn’t feel the left side of his body.
His friend, Michael Alison, 21, lifted up Darren’s left arm, but when he let it go it fell to his side.
He called Darren’s dad Phil, 55, and he took his stricken son to the Borders General Hospital at Melrose.
He was later transferred to Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital to have cerebrospinal fluid, a clear and colourless body fluid found in the brain and spinal cord, drained.
Phil recalled: “When he was rushed to the Edinburgh Western General Hospital, no one knew if he would make it and even medics didn’t have faith in the operation going well.
“It was so frightening to hear all of these negative thoughts.”
After the operation, Darren was put into intensive care on a life support machine for around 12 weeks.
After being taken off life support, he needed a second operation to fix the tubes in his brain to help his body drain excess fluid naturally.
He faced further surgery and a few weeks after that op, the tube down his throat was removed, but he still couldn’t speak due to the brain damage.
However, he shocked medics with his verdict on the Scottish Premiership’s fifth-placed side, currently sitting one league table position and two points above Hibs.
Phil explained: “He made a funny comment about how terrible Hearts were.
“This was because most of the nurses there were all Hearts fans.
“We all couldn’t believe it. I just laughed.”
Darren was tranferred back to Borders General Hospital, where he remained for a further five weeks before returning home in time for Christmas.
He still requires care around the clock but is being looked after by his dad, now his full-time carer, and is optimistic about his prospects.
Darren said: “My dad’s been unreal. I just think if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here today.
“I thank him so much for everything he has done.”
Phil says his son is hoping he will be able to stand again for his wedding on June 15, adding: “It’s difficult being a full-time carer, but I’m a positive person.
“He does get frustrated when he can’t go out and see his friends but he is brilliant. He doesn’t get down.
“He wants to stand at my wedding, so we’ll see.”