Ex-All Black Carl Hayman opens up on dementia battle

Source: Seven Sharp

Carl Hayman was New Zealand's 1000th All Black, running out in the black jersey 46 times - and in every single one of those games, he took a knock.

Now, despite being barely in his 40s, Hayman has dementia.

He retired from the game in 2015 and in the years since realised something wasn’t right.

"Changes in mood, to forgetfulness, regular headaches, which are now constant headaches.

"My temper. I was getting very easily angry," he told Seven Sharp.

And then, a moment he can't forget.

"I was trying to reapply for a passport for my son, and they asked me what's your son’s name, and I couldn't remember his name or his middle name. That was the first time where I was like, something is odd, and not right."

Anxiety and depression, formerly strangers, had seemingly settled in.

"I had to ask myself the question, what’s going on with me?"

Now, at just 42, he has an official diagnosis.

"I expected to have a sore knee and sore back for the rest of my days and that was perfectly fine, and I think any rugby player would agree. But to get to 42 and have a medical specialist telling you have dementia, that’s something that I never thought I’d be in a position of having to deal with.

"For a while I went to the bottom of the bottom you can go."

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These days, he and partner Kiko run Chaddy’s Charters, offering wildlife cruises off the coast of New Plymouth.

Hayman is opening up to support Dementia New Zealand's Light in the Darkness campaign that aims to support those living with dementia and those living with them.

"I can tell you personally caregivers do an amazing job. I have an amazing one myself in Kiko. I’m getting a bit emotional sorry… but those people who are living with someone a brain injury or dementia, they do it pretty tough as well."

Hayman has a poignant message for those affected by dementia.

"There is hope."