My brain injury story – Brain Injury Awareness Month

It is Brain Injury Awareness Month and as this has happened in my family, this is my brain injury story.

my brain injury story
Photo by Nhia Moua on Unsplash
Image Description: the head of an anatomy model is seen half skull and half head

A brain injury can happen to anyone at any time, accidents happen and that is what happened to my parents on holiday. They had gone to Spain to look for property as they were thinking about moving there, they had been many times before.

But when pulling out of a junction in a minivan with friends, a car that was speeding hit the side of the car and everything changed! My mom was sitting where the car hit, and though it caused extensive injuries to their friend, I feel more comfortable talking about my family.

Mom’s head hit the pillar between the windows, and she had a broken arm and was in hospital in Spain before coming home. She had an operation before returning to pin her arm, but that needed to be redone back here as it was not done right.

However, the biggest thing was her head injury, and she needed to have an operation to relieve too much fluid around her brain (hydrocephalus). She said this was the worst thing she has been through, as it affected balance, and made her sick a lot in the days following it.

The head injury changed her personality and I think that is why my dad struggled to connect with her after the accident. In the end, their marriage ended when he met someone else, but this does happen after head injuries. In fact:

“Between 20% and 50% of marriages end in divorce following a severe head injury”

Irwin Mitchell

Before her head injury my mom was very outgoing and loved to party and be with friends, growing up there were always people visiting. Fashion and cooking were some of her favourite things, and being around friends gave her an excuse to cook something nice and put on a cute outfit.

Now, it is hard to get mom to want to leave the house, and she is happiest sitting alone in the house playing games on her iPad. There was a time when I thought she was depressed, as not getting dressed and retreating can be signs of that. However, after time living with her, I know that isn’t the case.

It is important to note that the accident also triggered Multiple Sclerosis in her, and she had incontinence so they can be part of why she likes to be home. However, she has no interest in anything she used to have, and it has been an adjustment.

It is not easy to connect with people when all the things you always knew someone for have changed. We used to talk for hours about Jack the Ripper and Egypt and watch so many programmes about them.

But mom doesn’t really have that interest anymore and that is so hard to accept at first because the view of who that person is has to change. It can also be difficult for mom not to feel pressure to try to be the ‘old’ her when she cannot connect with that being her.

It takes a lot of compassion to love the ‘new’ version of the person you loved, but this is my brain injury story as much as it is hers. When the accident happened, I left my job to help look after her, and even when I got married and moved away I would often call and check on her.

When Dad left, mom pretended she was okay by herself, but her MS means she needs help and once we realised, we moved in. Looking after mom is not always easy, emotionally and physically it can be overwhelming at times.

But I do not regret our decision to move in, and I love spending time with her, she is still my mom no matter what. She has been through so much, but as a family we keep finding a way to get through it all.

I hope by sharing my brain injury story for brain injury awareness month, you understand how easily everything can change and to appreciate the people around you.

Thank you xx

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