Donna Harris lives in fear each day worrying that she’s going to have another bleed on her brain.
In May 2020, mum-of-two Donna sustained a brain injury after an aneurysm ruptured.
She said: “There were no warning signs, it just happened out of the blue and ever since I’ve been petrified that it’s going to happen again.”
Donna’s day started when she woke up at 7:15am and went to the bathroom to start getting ready for her shift as a senior care worker. Suddenly, she felt an extreme pain in her head and collapsed.
Her 23-year old son Jack found her lying face down on the bathroom floor just minutes later.
“I remember waking up on the bathroom floor surrounded by paramedics,” said Donna. “My foot was shaking uncontrollably so they thought I might’ve had a seizure, but I hadn’t, I was just in so much pain.
I remember asking ‘Am I going to die?’
“The paramedics carried me out on a stretcher and when they opened the front door, I couldn’t bear to look at the light outside, it was blinding.”
A CT scan showed an abnormality on her brain and after being transferred to a more specialist hospital, she was told an aneurysm had ruptured.
She underwent a complex six-hour surgery to clip the aneurysm and spent a total of 21 days in hospital before returning home.
As a result of the brain injury, Donna has difficulties seeing out of her left eye and now has to wear an eye patch. She also struggles with fatigue and information processing and has a shaven head from the surgery.
She said: “I wasn’t told anything at the hospital about my recovery or what to expect next, they just sent me on my way.
“It’s made me feel really scared about it happening again. It was so out of the blue and I was never given any information about why it happened to me.”
Thankfully, Donna was able to get support from Headway’s helpline.
Speaking to the nurse on the helpline put my mind at ease. She gave me a lot of information which helped me to get my head around what’d happened and how it’s changed my life.
“The booklets they sent are a great source of information too. If I’m ever unsure of anything or need something clarifying, I can look back at the booklets with ease.”
Donna’s journey since returning home hasn’t been without its challenges.
“These days, I have trouble getting out of bed because of fatigue. I feel very low and struggle to do much at all. I’ve found it difficult to come to terms with,” she said.
“Before the injury, my job as a senior care worker meant that I was always on the go and didn’t have much time to ‘do nothing’. Now, I spend most of my days in bed. It’s been a huge change to my lifestyle.
I feel like every time I do manage to go out, people are staring at me and my shaved head and eye patch, judging me. I feel embarrassed.
Donna was also halfway through her National Vocational Qualification in care work, but her visual problems mean that she can’t read and has had to put a stop to her studies.
Donna’s main priority right now is to regain an element of her old life.
When asked what the one thing that got her through the tough times was, she said: “My family; my two children Jack and Lauren and my husband Steve – they’ve all been so supportive.
“Steve has been working full-time and then coming home to do the housework and cooking because I’m not able to and my son has helped to lift my spirits in the dark times. No matter how down I feel, he can always make me laugh.”
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