How would you hope to come to terms with your brain injury if you can’t recall how you sustained it? Here, Michelle Munt explains how she has coped with not remembering the day that changed her life.
Throughout our lives we all experience defining moments that change the course of our future.
This can range from something we are proud of, like graduating in your chosen subject, to something we’re ashamed of, like being caught stealing. The former can be the opening to an exciting career; the latter could be the moment you seriously consider if a life of crime is what you want.
Personally I haven’t experienced either of these moments, but I have had one such life-changing event. The difference is I have no memory of it, but I have to live with the consequences of it just the same.
I’m talking about the day I was involved in a road traffic collision in which I sustained a traumatic brain injury. It ended my career and I went through the unenviable experience of having to learn how to walk, talk, read and write again.
I was driving to work on the dual carriageway I travelled on every day. Ahead the traffic was queuing, so I was slowing to join them. Behind me was a small lorry, but a low flying bird of prey smashed into the driver’s windscreen.
He was unable to see anything and rammed into the company Smart Car I was driving. I was forced across the other lane and collided with the crash barrier on the central reservation. Scans later revealed a bleed on my brain.
So if you can’t remember the turning point in your life, how are you supposed to feel about it?
My feelings about it change minute by minute. I have the bad habit of overanalysing things and so I have lost many hours considering this subject.
As crazy as it sounds, the first thing I remember feeling was excitement mixed with disappointment. This was in response to being told I was airlifted to hospital.
I’d never been in a helicopter before, and you’re a bit of a VIP if the air ambulance rather than the road ambulance is your chauffeur that day (albeit a seriously ill VIP!).
I thought it was such a shame that I couldn’t remember this ‘thrilling’ experience. But at this stage I really didn’t understand what had happened to me, so I was a bit delusional if I thought it was thrilling.
As I became more self aware, and recognised my limitations, I became apprehensive...wondering if I could have done anything to avoid the accident. I wanted my life back, but needed someone to blame: me.
But then the rational realist in me finally started to wake up. Traumatic experiences can end in a phobia of the event happening again. And seeing as car accidents do happen every day, it wouldn’t be an irrational fear for me to have.
However, as I remember nothing about it, I didn’t have the memory to associate with driving a car. Thus, when I was physically able to, I returned to driving without fear.
Nevertheless, the not knowing gives me a sense of having no control over the event that changed my life. That has transpired into me being a very nervous passenger.
I can’t bear the fact that not being a mind reader means I don’t know if the driver is aware of the hazard I’ve just spotted. Often involuntary panicked noises escape me, when in fact the driver doesn’t need any help from me, and has the situation under control.
How this event has changed the future for me...
I started to blog about brain injury as I felt there wasn’t much awareness of what it means for the patient. It’s such a confusing experience. I lost my communication skills and so struggled to help people understand what I needed.
Thankfully, I regained most of this, and therefore I try to say what others can’t. My blog is called No memory of the day that changed my life and you can find it at www.jumbledbrain.com.
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