As some of you know, I started this blog after sustaining one concussion too many. Because of my experiences with my own brain injury, I am always looking for other people who have made their own journey from surviving to Thriving. So today, I’m honored to be able to bring you Michelle’s story about her brain injury. Hopefully it will inspire you to check out her page and see how she is Thriving in Hostile Terrain!
Michelle’s Story: How it Started
In December 2014 I had a car accident which was a case of “wrong place, wrong time” for everyone
involved. It really was a true accident, as it was no one’s fault. Well, that’s not entirely true. A bird of
prey, a Buzzard smashed into the windscreen of the lorry behind me, and as I slowed for traffic
ahead the lorry slammed into the back of me. So, you could say it was the Buzzards fault, but it’s not
nice to speak ill of the dead.
The lorry driver was unable to see anything and rammed into the company Smart Car I was driving. I
was forced across the other lane and collided with the crash barrier on the central reservation. The
company care had the name and telephone number of the academy I worked for emblazoned all
over I so a quick-thinking member of the public called my work to let them know what had
happened. Thankfully that meant the message was passed on to my partner, James straight away
and he was able to start working out how to cross all the grid locked London traffic to the hospital
that I was air lifted to.
I remained in the Royal London Hospital for just 10 days, until I was able to walk well enough with a
crutch to go home. With no memory of what happened, I didn’t feel traumatised. But I was in a lot of
pain, I had damaged part of my spine and had a large gash on my head. But I didn’t recognise
anything strange about my personality or thought process. However, that was because I lacked the
insight to understand my behaviour.
I assumed I had a concussion, and in time it would pass. The doctors hadn’t told me or my partner
James very much. Later James told me when I was first admitted, they had thought I might have had
a stroke, but ruled that out. It wasn’t until months later when I went back for a follow up
appointment as an outpatient that we were told I’d had a small bleed at the base of my brain. As it
had stopped without needing intervention, they didn’t feel it was serious. However, it had irritated
my spinal cord which controls how your internal organs operate. This left my bladder and bowels
needing to relearn how to operate properly.
I couldn’t read or write properly and after being on sick leave for less than 6 months I took the
decision to resign from my job. It was a small company and I knew what a detrimental impact my
absence was having on them. I didn’t want my colleagues’ jobs to be put at risk so I left, allowing
them to recruit a permanent replacement for me as I had no idea if and when I’d be able to return.
That was a low point for me, but it also gave the more capacity to focus on my dad who had just
been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I there was one good thing to have come out of sustaining a brain
injury, it was being able to relate to what my dad was experiencing. However, as I slowly improved,
he was declining.
What all this did was it opened my eyes to is how little people understand about brain injury. Before
this happened to me, I thought a concussion was a temporary bit of confusion, and a brain injury
was where you would be left with a visible disability. How wrong I was! That’s why I started a
blog, Jumbledbrain, about brain injury to try to raise awareness and understanding. I offer insights to
some of the symptoms we can experience and ways that family and friends can help us as I realise
that it’s often confusing for them too. They are thrown into the situation of caring of someone who
is important to them but with no training it can be difficult to know where to start. Plus, I have a
brain injury Facebook group who love to share ideas, so feel free to join in over at Brain injury &
mental health support.
How It’s Going:
You can visit Michelle’s blog here and her Facebook group here.