When builder Mark Hulland from South Molton was hit on the head by a falling ladder, he took it ‘on the chin’ as another typical builder’s incident.

The following week, Mark and his wife Dawn flew to America for a two-week holiday to Disney World.  During their stay in Florida, Mark became aware of a regular headache. He took pain killers but still it wouldn’t shift.  At first, Mark thought it might be caused by sinusitis and then wondered if, perhaps, it might have been the result of various knocks to the head during his rugby and sport-playing days in years gone by. As his joints also started hurting, Mark convinced himself that a ride on a roller coaster would ‘realign and sort everything out’. 

On the day before Mark and Dawn were due to fly home, Mark realised that as well as still having a headache his legs were really hurting and his wife was keen to visit a doctor in America. Instead, they flew back to Gatwick, with Mark sleeping from the moment he sat down in the plane to the moment he landed. As they headed back to Devon, Dawn was concerned that Mark was driving erratically and took over, becoming increasingly worried about her husband.

Waking up the following morning Mark was violently sick – and realised that he was vomitting blood. Dawn rushed him to A&E where, initially, tests were inconclusive. As doctors were discussing Mark being allowed home, he collapsed. Further tests revealed that, incredibly, Mark had suffered a subdural heamatoma – a bleed on the brain – most likely to have been caused by the blow to the head from the ladder over three weeks earlier!

As the medical team worked to stabilise Mark, the Air Ambulance was despatched to transfer him urgently from North Devon District Hospital to Derriford. On arrival, he had an emergency operation to stop the bleeding and a further operation a few days later. Mark has no memory of the first nine days that he was in hospital and spent a total of 19 days in Derriford.

Amazingly, Mark made a full recovery and even returned to work just three weeks later, with strict warnings from his wife and daughters to ‘please take things easy’. “I consider myself to be incredibly lucky,” Mark explained. “When I think of the two long-haul flights, the roller coaster ride and all the other things I did without knowing what was going on in my head, I’m very lucky to still be here!”

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