When it happened, it was a shock of course waking up in hospital and being told I had a brain tumour.
The day before I had been leading my life; at the height of my career, a prestigious restaurant it the largest hotel in Australia, I had my first chef hat (Michelin star) and was working towards my second.. Australian ambassador for Moët Chandon and so much more.
Then I was a brain tumour victim.
But what I did not realise then was how my life would change forever.
After the biopsy and then the removal of the tumour, after 3 months of rehab. I was discharged. Initially I felt free, no longer an inmate in hospital I was able to walk and talk and I was grateful. But really my recovery had only just began.
It was or rather it is a slow growing tumour so it can come back at anytime. This, I found hard to deal with. People kept on saying how good I looked, and I did. I was eating super healthy food to aid my recovery, I had lost weight, exercising daily and the staples in my head removed - I looked amazing!!
When someone has a leg injury and is walking around with a limp we have sympathy, we make allowance for them being slower, we give them our chair, we understand they cannot walk as far as us. We can see they are not the same.
No one could see my injury, all they saw was this healthy fit John, I look better and they thought I was the same.
I suffered brain damage as a result of a bleed on the brain during the biopsy coupled with the removal of the mass, I was far from the same.
At one point I could not even make a cup of tea, chop a carrot or fry an egg.
Luckily the cooking part of my memory came back! But I have been left with long term brain damage and it’s been the hardest part of my recovery trying to learn to live with it. I had to change my life and develop strategies to help me function.
The mass was located in the front left area of the brain which is your problem solving , I find it hard now to solve problems, I’m not as sharp as before, I have to sound out my reasoning and take my time. My memory is damaged, I have to write everything down. I can only do one thing at a time and listen to one person talking to me about one subject, anymore than that and you have completely lost me!
At the beginning I was confused by my injuries I was annoyed with myself, why can’t I do it?? Why can’t I rise to that challenge and execute it like before.
And then I started to learn to live with it, I would not be beaten by this but equally I was not the same anymore. I cannot handle the same stressful environment, so working has I had previously was not an option.
So when I am asked why did I return from Australia when I had it so good, this is why. I need people around me that I trust and can support me, they understand my injury and the limitations it has left me with. If it wasn’t for that love and support I would not have the restaurant and be telling this story. My restaurant is my recovery. It’s a dream come true, I can use the strategies I have developed in my kitchen, working my way, sharing and educating people through my food.
So now you know, if I forget your name, don’t take offence, blame it on the brain tumour!