One-punch attack had impact on whole family
- Credit: Headway Norfolk and Waveney
A man who was left with 'half a skull' after a one-punch attack on a night out has taken part in an exhibition showing the impact a brain injury can have on a whole family.
Michael Evans, 33, had his hands in his pockets when amateur boxer Daniel Brzozowski landed a blow to his head in Great Yarmouth in November 2012.
Michael's mother, Linda Etheridge, said: 'He'd been to EVO with his friends, it was just before midnight and his friend's girlfriend wanted to change her shoes.
'So they were walking past Sainsbury's in Great Yarmouth, this young lad walked past, Michael was out in front and [Brzozowski] said something to the friend and you could see a little banter between the two.
'And as the lad got level with Michael, Michael's head turned so he'd obviously spoken and as he turned the lad just punched him in the face.'
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Michael was immediately knocked unconscious. And as he went down, his head hit the corner of a curb.
He was rushed to Addenbroke's Hospital, in Cambridge, where a CT scan found he had suffered a traumatic brain injury.
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Doctors did not know whether he would survive and he remained in a coma for four and a half weeks.
'When he came round, he couldn't speak, couldn't walk,' said Linda.
'The hospital moved him onto different wards until he was able to work it out with physiotherapy. They helped him walked around a bit. He stayed in hospital for about two months, where they constantly worked on him.'
Michael was discharged in January 2013 and sent to the Colman Hospital in Norwich, a centre for specialist rehabilitation, and was eventually discharged as an outpatient.
Brzozowski was jailed for three years for the attack.
But the impact on Michael and his family would last much longer.
Although much better now, back in 2013 Michael could not use a knife and fork, and could not recognise his niece.
Linda said in an interview with this newspaper that Michael's memories were jumbled and he had developed a short temper.
Michael's father Andy said after Brzozowki was jailed: 'The past seven months have turned our lives upside down. It's been hell. What they don't take into account when they go into court is the impact right across the family and his close-knit friends who are like family. If we weren't so strong it could have divided us.'
The impact was so deep Michael's brother, Robert, moved out of the family home for three months.
Michael said: 'He woke up one morning, my mum was downstairs, he went 'today I'm going to do the right thing and become an adult'. Mum went 'what?'
'He went 'I'm going to move out and stay at my aunt's for a few months to make it easier for Michael.'
Linda said the brothers were even closer now than they were before, as was the whole family.
In a video released for Action for Brain Injury Week Michael's brother Robert told him: 'You're still not the Michael you used to be and I don't think you ever will be, which isn't - to be honest - a bad thing. If I'm honest there was a lot of things about you that are for the better.
'How you used to be, you were a lad. You would sometimes have arguments, you were drinking. Your friends were the wrong kind of friends. Whereas now, you're different. You're smarter with your money. You're learning about your PC stuff again. You talk to everybody, everybody knows you, everybody is friends with you now.
'And me and you get on better because we are always playing xBox games and talking about football.'
Michael now goes to the Headway Norfolk and Waveney group in gorleston for support.
He said: 'What I've learned from my time at Headway hasn't changed my brain injury, but it has changed the way that I deal with it.
'The mood management group taught me that I was taking my own anger out on other. Just understanding that makes a big difference and from there I have learned strategies that have reduced the impact of my anger on other, especially my brother, allowing me to build important relationships again.'
• May 14 - 20 is Action for Brain Injury Week. Throughout the week a film exhibition put together by clients of Headway Norfolk and Waveney will be on show at Castle Mall, Norwich. Find them on the second floor, near Boots or visit www.headway-nw.org.uk for more information.