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More than my brain injury: Danielle Grant

More than my brain injury: Danielle Grant

I believe that if I can get through this, then I can overcome anything that life throws at me.

Often, we hear from brain injury survivors about how they don’t want their injury or its effects to define them. Instead, they want to be seen for all they have accomplished in the face of adversity, their ups and downs and their milestones.

That’s why we created the More than my brain injury 10-day photo challenge, to give brain injury survivors a voice to share what’s important to them beyond their injury.

Danielle Grant is just one of many who got involved. Here we share her 10-day photo challenge.

Danielle and her niece

Day One – Introduce yourself

My name is Danielle and I suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm and subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH) three years ago. I’m so grateful to have survived and to be here to share my story with you.

Day Two – Someone who’s been there through the ups and downs

I have lost people on my journey of recovery which has been heart-breaking.

But at the same time there have a been a number of people in my life that have been there for me since day one of this ordeal and who are still by my side three years later.

But if I had to pick one, I’d pick my wonderful niece, Simone Danielle Grant. I’m so proud of you and the wonderful new mum that you have become. 

Day Three – A skill you’ve learnt after your brain injury

I have developed my creative writing and public speaking skills, learnt how to blog and design a website all while in recovery. It was far from an easy ride for me to do due to struggling with concentration, memory, fatigue and a whole host of other things!

But my passion to help others and to share my story lead me down this path of self-discovery and that’s how My Blooming Brain was born. I’ve finally found my calling in life!

Day Four – A photo of you in recovery

There is far more going on than what the eyes can see. This photo was taken roughly three weeks after I was discharged from hospital!

The reason that I selected this photo is because it has a powerful message. Looking at this photo you would assume that I'm healthy and well right?! My hair is done, makeup on and I'm wearing jewellery and a nice dress.

Danielle's blog, My Blooming Brain

What this photo does not show is how exhausted I was, how I had to sit on a bench to have a shower as I didn't have the strength to stand, how my mum had to wash my hair as I didn't have the strength to hold my hands above my own head or the balance to do it without falling over.

How it took me about two hours to shower and dress as my body couldn't support itself upright without me having to hold onto something and sit down to dress, I couldn't bend down to put my shoes on without losing balance.

A selfie of Danielle

That morning I woke with a pounding headache, I couldn't remember something we spoke about 30 minutes ago. I suffered with fatigue so badly that I'd have to sleep for hours after having a short conversation. I couldn't focus long enough to watch a TV programme, the stimulus and the energy it would take for my brain to concentrate was too much!

I couldn't walk without support, I couldn't remember to take my medication and at this point I still didn't fully understand what had happened to me!

I suffered with anxiety and a fear of being left alone, every time I had a headache I worried that it was going to happen again. I no longer had any confidence or trust in myself...how did I not know that I was walking around with something that nearly killed me?! The point that I'm getting at here is that many of the effects of brain injury are invisible and the daily battles that I still have to this day are invisible to most people.

No two brain injuries are the same or the after effects, and you never know what someone is having to deal with, especially if they're like me and a very positive smiley person. So please be kind. 

Day Five – The most positive thing to come from your brain injury

Believe it or not this is a difficult one to answer, as there have been many positives for me. I’d say my appreciation for the simple things in life and the understanding that tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. I really do understand that we need to live life to the fullest and do what makes us truly happy!

I’m a much stronger person now and I believe that if I can get through this, then I can overcome anything that life throws at me.

I also find it much easier to walk away from anything that isn’t serving me or adding to my life in a positive way. And I have real sense of knowing myself and what makes me happy, I now take responsibility for my own happiness.

Life is precious so don’t waste it, live it!! It’s way too short to be anything other than happy. 

A quote reading "Life is too short"

Day Six – A quote or person that inspires you

I love this quote by Maya Angelou, an American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist.

Day Seven – A beautiful view

I love this view, it’s one of the most breath-taking views I’ve seen in my entire life! This was back in 2015 at the Iguassu Falls in Argentina/Brazil when I went traveling across South America. One of the best experiences ever and I made memories for life!

A quote which reads "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive, and do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.
A scenic view captured by Danielle

Day Eight – A milestone within your recovery

There are so many...this is a difficult one! So I’ve wrote a list of 10.

1. Being able to wash my hair without getting dizzy, collapsing or needing help from my mum.

2. Being able to stand in the shower without the aid of a shower seat.

A photograph of Danielle smiling

3. Being able to dress myself within a reasonable amount of time.

4. Being able to cook a full meal without having to sit down and take a rest.

5. Restoring my cognitive brain function and improving my short-term memory.

6. Regaining my confidence to leave the house and walk around the block on my own.

7. Returning to the world of work.

8. Coming off my seizure medication and being seizure free.

9. Going on my first family holiday in two years.

10. The re-instatement of my driving license.

Day Nine – Something that makes you feel happy and safe

This was another tough one for me to answer. If I had to choose one thing I would say my home.

This isn’t my actual home...but never say never hey! Prior to my aneurysm rupturing I was very much a free spirit, I loved to travel the world and I loved socializing in between work, so I was rarely at home.

What my recovery eventually taught me was to be happy with the simple things in life, such as having a safe home.

I can’t begin to tell you how happy I was the day I returned home from hospital! As there were times when I thought I may never see my home again!

The recent situation of COVID-19 has also been a great reminder for me to be content being at home and I associate it with being a safe space now more than ever!

A photograph of a beautiful yellow house covered in pink flowers

Day Ten – The first place you’ll go once lockdown is over

Danielle's grandnephew

So I had to think what lockdown being over actually means, as I would hope that I can see my family before this point based on the information that’s just been released in regards to bubbles.

And I would hope that these bubbles will be extended by then so that I can see my niece and my newly born grandnephew in a none social distance way before that point. I can’t wait to cuddle them both!

Plus I can’t wait to go on a road trip, the week before lockdown I went on a little road trip and stayed in a lovely hotel and really enjoyed it. Feels like a lifetime ago now!

And as international travel is going to be off limits for a while, I’d love to go on a weekend road trip somewhere in the UK that I haven’t visited before. This will give me a huge sense of freedom!

And last but not least, I miss getting glammed up and going out and dancing. I’m not sure at what point I’ll feel comfortable to do this, but I’m definitely looking forward to a girly night out for sure!

Gosh it felt strange to think about doing these things again! Life has changed so much over the last 11 weeks! 

To read more about Danielle's experience of life after brain injury, visit her blog here

 

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