Living in the present

16

"I got my brain injury in 2005. We were travelling to Cornwall in our camper van for a holiday. It was meant to be a birthday treat for my 13 year-old son. On the way there I felt unwell, so I stopped a couple of times to have a rest. I assumed I was getting flu or something. When we got to the campsite, I went to sleep because I felt very tired. After that I don’t remember anything at all. I’m told my son tried to wake me up but I was dead to the world. I was taken in an ambulance to the hospital where I lay in a coma for two and a half weeks. I was told I had suffered two aneurisms and a stroke.

For the first three or so months I didn’t really understand what had happened to me. I was in a wheel chair for five months. I had to learn to walk and talk. I had to learn absolutely everything all over again. Before my injury I taught infant-aged children who were in hospital being treated for long-term conditions. After what happened to me my whole life changed.

My eldest son, who was 21 years old at the time, moved into my home to help and support me to start with.  This was for four years in the end.

I am very fortunate in that I have people that look after me. I live with my sister who is wonderful. We were close before I became ill and we are perhaps even closer now. I sometimes feel a little guilty that people have to take care of me, but I’m also grateful that they are kind enough to do so. I love music. I listen to everything from classical music to contemporary music and I find it a great source of pleasure. The only thing I don’t like is punk rock.

From the first moment I came to Headway Cambridgeshire I felt at home. I remember that someone offered me a drink straight away and I realised that I had arrived at a place that made me feel comfortable. Everyone here is so very kind and we help each other.  Sometimes I struggle to remember how to say things but someone here will always find the word for me. Everyone who comes to the hub has had a brain injury, but we are all different. People think that brain injury is only one thing, but it takes many forms.

My speech has got a lot better since I have been coming to Headway. I used to be shy. I was fine as a teacher on a one to one basis, but could never have addressed a crowd. Now I will talk to anyone. I’m even confident enough to speak out in front of a group. I am happy with the way I am. I just think about today, not yesterday or tomorrow. Living in the present helps me to cope with life."

Maureen

The Hospital Brain Injury Co-ordinator became someone who absolutely understood how I felt, I didn’t need to explain. I could talk about my fears and worries. She was such a great support through the difficult days, but could also celebrate the small step successes, which was important to me.