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Five Years On by Clare...

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Five Years On by Clare Jones

Five Years On by Clare Jones

Five years on; ‘you can’t still be that bad?’

Along with other forms of creative works, poetry can be a powerful way to express the feelings and emotions we experience following life-changing events such as brain injury. Here, we speak to Clare Jones about the consequences of the accident that changed her life, before sharing her fantastic poem, 'Five years on'...

Can you tell us a bit about your brain injury?

"21 February 2018, I was on a tree swing on an unusually warm and sunny day when the branch holding the swing snapped, the full force and weight of the branch fell on to my head causing several lacerations. I fell backwards and the base/back of my head fell onto tree stump. I was pinned under the branch.  Following a trip to the local infirmary, my head was glued and I was issued with an information sheet regarding concussion.

"Over the next few days, my symptoms worsened (primarily dizziness), nausea, head pain, extreme fatigue. I was taken to hospital for a CT scan which proved clear and from there, after being given another information sheet on concussion, referred to the Neuro Rehab Unit where I was then under their care for almost 3 years before being discharged.  There were follow up appointments which have been ongoing to ascertain 'what is wrong', but conclusions drawn that it is FND and I live with persistent concussive symptoms.

"I consequently lost my job, a lot of my independence and also a lot of 'me'.  

"I continue to live with fatigue on a daily basis which can be extreme and see me having bed rest for a day, or days at a time.  I suffer with nausea and sickness, dizziness and head pain.  Head pain is managed to a degree with medication but can 'breakthrough' when I am particularly 'bad'."

Can you tell us about your poetry and how it helps you?

"I have always been a secretly keen writer.  Writing down/journaling my way through this new 'life' and often, it has been written as poetry.  Not necessarily with any planning involved!  What comes out onto the page, just flows. 

Clare eating a soft-scoop ice cream in a cone with flake, Clare is wearing a blue coat and smiling at the camera.

"Going back many years, I would enjoy writing poems in school.  It wasn't until more recent years I have found that writing to a rhythm, even if not initially planned, somehow brings out more emotion and rawness of a situation or thought processes.  I have certainly written more since my accident - maybe the creative side of my brain had a nudge that day!

Writing poems helps me to process the emotion and feelings that I may be experiencing, to express my emotion.

If you could give one bit of advice to others affected by brain injury, what would it be?

"You know yourself pre injury, and post injury.  Persevere with lines of treatment, querying symptoms and do not give up on yourself.  It is the most confusingly frustrating and awful experience you may find yourself in; but keep getting up each day and know that there are people around to support you."

Five Years On

Five years have passed since that frightful day
‘You’ll have to learn to live with it’; some do say
Thoughts twist and turn, goings on inside my head
As I spend so much time lying still in my bed

My thoughts are mine and closely they’re kept
Sometimes escaping when I’ve inconsolably wept
So much time, time we think we may have
But no one knows when it’ll become ‘the last

We’re told to make the most of everything we do
When all that I needed was some form of glue
To stick back together my lacerated head
And still all this time just lying in bed

I come without wrapping, or a sparkly pink bow
I am a changed person from my brain to my toes
Distracted, distanced, a degree of disconnect
Of course there is much pondering and for sure; regret
I still find myself here, lying alone in bed

Having to choose to do this, not that, and adapt it my way
‘But you’ll have to learn to live with it’, some do say

So live with it I do, not always knowing how
Five years of confusion, navigating the internal row
The voice inside so hard to ignore
When you feel like you’ve fallen below the depths of the floor

I want the wrapping and the pink sparkly bow
To stand tall in the mirror and believe it can be so
Stepping into the garden and sea I do relish
Eating ice cream, and sit; these moments I cherish
To lie back, stop and listen to the birds out of reach
I find my true self when my feet are on the beach

With much to reflect on, but not for too long
There is always power for me in putting on a song
I’ll sing and I’ll dance, not caring at all
Because I can stand in the mirror, not small; but tall

I want the wrapping and the pink sparkly bow
Even if I define my life as being rather ‘slow’
There’s a battle being fought inside my head
It is frustrating to spend time being in bed

I will have the wrapping and pink sparkly bow
The adjusted adventures with people I know
The friends who’ve been there and will always care
The family whom never leave, when I’m alone upstairs

The love unwavering, the resolute support
This five years has taken away but also taught
Taught how to fight, to accept help and love
To know it’s okay to believe and to trust
To do what I do and keep going each day
‘You’ll have to learn to live with it’ some do say

Concussion, concussion, JUST concussion they said
It’s not them, five years later still lying in bed
Persistent symptoms to contend with each day
‘You’ll have to learn to live with it’ they continue to say

Five years on; ‘you can’t still be that bad?’
Do you really think I’d give up all that I had?
To choose this way day by day
To depend on others and supportive aides
‘You’ll have to learn to live with it’ they continue to say

I shall do this for now, but will never give up
Although some days I am stuck in a deep rut
I don’t need fancy wrapping; just a pink sparkly bow
It’s time to get out of bed now… forwards I go.


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