Here, Emma Davey shares her experience of brain injury in her own words.
Earlier today I stuttered over a word. I was in the middle of a sentence and I completely forgot what the word was supposed to be, or how to say it. The beginning of the word started to form in my mind, “b-b…” I started stuttering it out hoping the rest would follow, then I saw the word in my head, it was part of a phrase; “building site”. I got the word out. All this took place over one, maybe two seconds. My sister behaved as if it hadn’t happened, she’s used to it. Maybe she didn’t notice it? I noticed it; I notice it every time it happens.
It's a remnant, something left over from the brain injury I experienced two and a half years ago. The bleed on the brain – an acute parenchymal haemorrhage - took me by surprise one night in January 2018. My blood pressure had reached such excessive heights that something had to give. It did and it caused a TIA, a mini stroke.
It took a week before a doctor thought to check my blood pressure, at which point I was hauled off to hospital post-haste. There it was, in the CT scan, unexpected by the doctor and definitely the last thing I thought I’d hear.
I was reading the other day about Emilia Clarke who has suffered two aneurysms and had to have lifesaving surgery both times, spending significant time in ICU. This was not me; the only surgery was a Cerebral Angiogram for which I was completely awake. The angiogram revealed that brain surgery was not needed, we just had to wait for the bleed to dissipate.
Once the brain is damaged, sadly that part will not repair, however it does work super hard to find new pathways, new ways of doing things. After about two years, it finishes its work. Things may not be quite the way they were before, but I’m pretty impressed with the work it has done.
As far as everyone around me is concerned, I’m back to ‘normal’. I suppose I am. Except for the moments of stuttering, difficulty writing with a pen (I’ve practiced a lot over lockdown, but it’s still slow), and sometimes needing more than a moment to process a question, I’m me.
Except, I know I’m different. I know that inside my head, things changed. There is a silence that wasn’t there before, I retreat into that silence a lot.
I have a friend to whom something similar happened thirteen months before me. We occasionally meet up, checking on each other, cheering each other’s brains on. It’s comforting to know there is someone nearby who’s a bit like me.
I wanted to write for a long time about my recovery, but it felt somehow self-indulgent, so this has been a little reflection on me and my brain. We’re still a work in progress.
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