My eventful journey to acquiring my brain injury commenced in 2006 when I was 19 and just starting my second year at University. I was 20 when eventually I was diagnosed with a PNET brain tumour, very rare for someone of my age, the people in the know told me, these same people also informed me that the cancer had spread down my spine and gave me a 20% chance of survival. Serious complications ensued, resulting in a fifteen month continuous stay in hospital.
Whilst in hospital I was fortunate to eventually be moved onto a specialist young adult ward, designed to enable young adults with cancer the chance to be themselves by bringing them together. Unfortunately, when I moved from that environment I felt isolated. Suddenly I found myself thrown into clinics and therapy sessions with people very much older than me. All extremely friendly I hasten to add, but I had so many life issues I would have liked to discuss with my own peers.
Since leaving hospital my recovery has been arduous and the rehabilitation leg of my journey is far from over. Life has definitely changed, I had my independence, I was healthy (or so I thought), had my career path mapped out – university, law school, barrister and up the ranks etc, fitting marriage and a family in along the way.
Even though I am living a life very different to the one I had planned, I remain positive and in good humour but I do on occasion feel insecure about my future. I worry about the extent to which my executive function impairment and short term memory impairment will improve (then I forget that I have already thought about that issue and worry again!). Add to that the daily challenges of life in a wheelchair amongst other things… Life is certainly interesting, never dull.
Friends have stayed in contact from a distance. I have had very few visits and phone calls from them. I acknowledge that everyone else’s lives have continued and that I was previously only a small part of it, but it does hurt a little that you can so easily be overlooked. Like many with an acquired brain injury, I am reliant on others to assist me with daily living but I have had a lot of support over the past years and met some incredible people along the way.
Undertaking challenge’s and focusing on raising awareness of acquired brain injury along with promoting and raising funds for Brainfartz is my way of saying thank you and also helping to ensure that others affected by an acquired brain injury may have opportunities to make new friends, feel less isolated, reclaim their self esteem, find their own identity and develop confidence and skills to live their life to the full.