I’ve been overwhelmed with the response I’ve received from my first post, the encouragement and support has been out of this world. Just to know that already I have helped others in some small way is making all of this worthwhile. My reason in creating this blog all along was to raise more awareness about brain injuries and the effect they have on everyday life, mostly because the experience I’ve had on my road to recovery isn’t one that I would want any other TBI survivors to have. It’s challenging enough going through a life changing experience so the more support you can have the easier your recovery can be.
I’ve woken up today with a reminder on time-hop, one year ago it was the first couple of days I was awake after the accident, for some reason today feels more emotional than Monday (19th September) , maybe because I will never know exactly what happened that day. I have memories of today, and I think I feel more emotional again knowing that my husband was the only one going through this on his own with no support at that time until my mum arrived. It’s frustrating knowing that my injury changed me as a person and that reflected in the breakdown of my marriage. It’s emotional knowing that I’ll never be able to talk or share what little memories I have about my time in Ireland, I never thought I’d actually say this but I was in such a bubble and it took me so long to understand what happened to me that I don’t think I really appreciated what my Husband, my Mum and my friends did for me while I was there. It’s amazing how I’ve been so consumed in trying to find me or understand what’s been happening to my head, that I now know I didn’t have a chance with anything else. I know today I’m a completely different person to who I was 4 months ago let alone a year, I’ll only get better and stronger with time. I just wish the help I’m receiving now could have been what I was discharged with and then hopefully I could have been in an even better place again and maybe I wouldn’t have lost a lot in the process.
This is my main aim of this blog; I don’t want anyone to be discharged from hospital with the lack of emotional and mental support around him or her as I feel I did. I was lucky I had family and friends around me, but after spending the amount of time I did in hospital, myself and friends from the ward would joke about a get out plan- there’s nothing like the comfort of your own bed or even a peaceful nights sleep which i’m still missing.
I was in a fantastic hospital called Rookwood and honestly they helped with all my rehabilitation I needed, but I went from having 2-4 hours of rehab a day – 5 days a week to come home to this ‘new me’ and have nothing. Awful as it sounds when you’re in hospital everyone makes an effort to come and see you but when you get home people believe that you’re better because you’re no longer in a hospital bed, and everyone still works and have busy lives. I could no longer drive, I was on my own in comparison to 24 hour a day care in hospital and scared about my new environment, going home isn’t meant to be a scary environment. When you’re standing in your own skin and you don’t recognise who this girl is it’s the worst feeling in the world, especially trying to explain that to others that don’t and can’t understand what you’re going through.
It’s been an emotional couple of weeks in the lead up to the “one year” mark. Fellow ABI or TBI survivors will completely understand what an achievement it is to reach that point, or every anniversary for that matter. It’s very easy for an outsider looking in to tell me to “pull myself together” – “be more positive” or even “it’s done now move on.” if it was that simple to do these things, don’t you think I would have done them already?
It’s very frustrating when people make these remarks to you, this is not a life I would have chosen. That is the difference, I think people assume I enjoy staying at home or make my life revolve around my new timetable. I would love nothing more than to get in my car and pop to the shop, go to work, or even go to the the gym but I can barely open a bottle of water, so imagine little old me trying to work out! Don’t get me wrong I was so impressed with myself in physio two weeks ago that I actually got to use the treadmill, it was only for 5 minutes at a speed of 2.5 but that’s a huge improvement for me, so high fives all round for Zally.
I have to manage myself to understand and be aware that my battery life is half the amount of your battery life. The mental and physical fatigue I feel is nothing compared to normal fatigue. I still find it amazing how in rehab; after a half an hour session they manage to pin point that particular part of my brain that’s struggling and I’m exhausted. I never go through a day without a sleep to reboot my battery, sleep is the best way to repair your brain or in my case my little pea brain. Don’t get me wrong in my first year I was still trying to keep up with my usual 100 miles an hour Zalehka that I used to know, the difference is I push myself too far and it can take me up to two weeks to get over one event. I’ve learnt this the hard way. I think we are all the same especially girls and get major ‘fear of missing out’ but I had to realise quickly that I was causing myself more harm in the long run by having these major peaks and troughs.
It was causing me anxiety and I’m not ashamed to say it but even pushing me further into depression because I didn’t want to miss out on special events and being with my friends. I had to turn down a very close friend’s hen party purely for the fact I don’t have the strength to stand on my own two feet for any amount of time. I had been to a wedding a couple of weeks prior to this event, I’m lucky I have the friends I do, but they had to force me to go to bed half way through the big day because they could see my mood changing, my speech getting worse and I was snapping at my closet and dearest friends because I didn’t want to admit I was very fatigued. Waking up a couple of hours later and realising I had missed out on their first dance and seeing my friends now on the somewhat tipsy train made me angry, more so at myself for putting myself in that situation. It upset me that my injury had shown me full on that I can’t be the girl I was, this was my wake up call. I also realised it wasn’t fair on my friends that they are not my carers, so why was I getting upset that they were enjoying themselves and I on the other hand was suffering because I was pushing myself too hard. I had to be honest with myself, honesty, well it can be brutal I could no longer keep up. This wedding had come at a time where my own little world was closing in on me. In my last blog I mentioned how I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to self-destructing, I think in my life prior to the accident I was very much a bury my head in the sand kind of girl and I had a wake up call that I could no longer pretend this wasn’t happening to me. I had literally hit rock bottom. I’m not ashamed to say this because people don’t talk about it enough; depression is a hidden illness and is a killer. People don’t want to talk about the truth; people are too scared to actually ask how you are because people don’t want an honest answer. I was at my lowest and if it was easy to not feel that pain then I would have taken that option, but the two people that saved me are the two people that are still and always have been by my side.
I suffer with PDST, can you blame me? I’ve always been curious as to what happened. I would ask repeatedly to my husband how did it happen? What was I like? It’s very hard understanding that something so simple as going to walk down a flight a stairs can change you. My husband didn’t see the accident, he just found me and I can’t even begin to imagine what he went through, what my family went through. Hearing that my little brother broke his heart by just simply reading my last blog makes me realise this isn’t just my life it’s effected, it’s my whole family as well and it’s taken me a year to understand this and to try and accept it, that’s the scariest part.
I have never once said why me? Why is this happening? What did I do so wrong for all of this, because I do believe that your life is written out for you and whatever is meant to be will be? I just don’t know what the answer is yet . I’ve mentioned a few times that ‘I never asked for this.’ I worked hard, I loved my job, I had everything I ever could have wished for; my dream car, my house, my dog, my husband, my family, my extended family, my friends, and yet that day for some reason I was going to be taught a lesson.
I had a guardian angel watch over me when I had my accident. But the question that I do still keep asking is; why did it take so long for me to get the help I needed? Why were my family members expected to pick up the pieces when they weren’t fully aware of what happens to an individual after a traumatic brain injury? Until you spend a day with me will you fully see how I struggle with day to day tasks, and how for example today is a bad day for me. Today is a day where I don’t want to leave my house because I’m so fatigued my legs are like dead weights.
But this will be my soul aim in trying to help others, so that they don’t have to experience that first year in adjusting and accepting as badly as I did.
The only reason I came to terms with this in the last 8 weeks was purely for the fact that if I didn’t face reality I wouldn’t have made that first year milestone. I know there have been many times for fellow TBI survivors’, where the give up feels easier than the battle to keep fighting. It is a constant battle and it isn’t easy, but somewhere within you strength is the only positive that will keep you striving for your goals. Those goals are what you need to keep working towards, because the view at the top is the best view you will ever have. I know I’m still climbing those stairs and this week I’ve had a knock back but I’m going to get back up and still keep fighting as i can’t wait to see my view from the top! As for now it’s one day one step at a time.
Please keep sharing to raise more awareness for Brain injury survivors, thank you.