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‘Emotional book’ a moving account of brother’s brain injury

Katherine Blyth Raphael has published a moving account of her brother’s 18-year battle with a traumatic brain injury caused by a road accident here.

‘For Pete’s Sake’ is told from her brother Peter’s point of view and looks at three stages of his life: before the accident, immediately after it, and after his life was further complicated by illness.

Mr Blyth died in 2000 at the age of 34.

“He [was involved in] a road traffic accident when he was 18,” said Mrs Raphael. “There was a storm, and he was on a bike going down to make sure the automatic bailing system was working on his boat. He was run over by a bus and was severely injured.”

Mr Blyth was left severely disabled due to brain damage after the 1981 accident, but managed to lead a relatively happy life for several years until he developed chickenpox.

“Because of the injuries on his brain already, he had a heart attack and was rushed into hospital,” his sister said. “The doctors saved him, but he ended up in a vegetative state. That was Peter in the third stage of his life.”

Writing the book was a cathartic experience, said Mrs Raphael.

“It is about how my parents, Desmond and Wendy Blyth, devoted themselves to him, to give him the best of life that they could after he was injured,” she explained. “Our lives changed completely when he had the accident. It was important for me to put it on paper. I wanted to express how it had been for him, and how it was for my parents. I also wanted to thank various people on his behalf.”

The book was originally meant to be a personal project to deal with her grief. However that all changed when Mrs Raphael, who now lives in England, sent a copy to Janet Wingate, a friend in Bermuda.

“She knew my family because we grew up together,” said Mrs Raphael. “I said, ‘shall I give this to my parents or will it upset them?’ She read it, and said ‘give it to them to read’. It is a very emotional book because it describes the hard times and the traumatic times, but it also describes some happiness and fun times. It is not a depressing and desperate book.”

Mrs Raphael works in Northampton as a psychiatric nurse, often helping families deal with similar situations to her own.

“I often deal with relatives who feel incredibly guilty about their relatives being in a hospital situation,” she said. “It can be impossible to care for them in a home setting. You often need professional help and full time carers. We had my brother both at home and in the hospital at different times, because of how bad his situation was.

“Going through this made me very much more aware of the whole family situation, and the family dynamic and how it affects everyone. As a nurse, it can be easier to sympathise when you have been on both sides of the fence. We had my brother at home and in the hospital, because of how bad his situation was.”

Mrs Raphael will sign copies of her book at the Bermuda Bookstore today, between 11am and 12pm. The Bermuda High School for Girls alumnus will also share her tale with students at that school.

Part proceeds of the sale of every book will be donated to the British head injury charity Headway.

Useful website: www.headway.org.uk.

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Published April 15, 2013 at 9:44 am (Updated April 15, 2013 at 9:43 am)

‘Emotional book’ a moving account of brother’s brain injury

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