Here, mum-of-two Sarah McGrath shares her story as part of Headway’s Cycle Safety campaign.
56-year old Sarah would cycle home from her job as a midwife at Liverpool Women’s Hospital every day. But on 10th June 2020, her journey home was anything but usual.
Recalling the incident, she said: “I was cycling home from work - I’m not a habitually fast cyclist - and was in Sefton park. The last thing I remember was approaching the cafe and the famous Eros statue. I was told later that I had skidded on some mud and gone over my handlebars, landing on my head.
“A lady from the cafe came to help me along with a passing couple who witnessed what had happened. Apparently, I was very confused and disorientated but I somehow managed to give them my home phone number so they could get in touch with my husband.”
An ambulance was called and Sarah was rushed to hospital.
I came around a bit in the ambulance, but it felt like an out of body experience – like I was watching it all but it wasn’t actually happening to me.
Sarah sustained minor cosmetic injuries to her hands and face as well as a fractured hip. However, it was the injury to her brain that would prove most challenging.
“Following a CT scan and x-ray I was diagnosed with a subdural haematoma,” she added. “Again, I felt like I was watching it all as I was in such shock and I didn’t realise the severity of my situation.
“When the consultant phoned my husband, she told him I was lucky to be alive as a haematoma can have a high a fatality rate.
Wearing a helmet definitely saved me from a much worse fate and I fully support any initiative to make wearing a helmet compulsory.
Over the past nine weeks, the effects of Sarah’s injury have begun to present themselves.
She said: “I can be a bit forgetful and sometimes don’t process things properly - the neuro team have said this may be more noticeable once I’m back at work and may need some memory aids. I am also sensitive to noise and this is particularly noticeable when more than one person is talking at once.”
Sarah, who is still in the very early days of her recovery, says that she is struggling to come to terms with her brain injury.
“I consider myself very lucky that I am here and well,” she said. “When I was first discharged from hospital I remember listening to my husband and daughter happily chatting downstairs organising a trip to the supermarket and I thought ‘how lucky am I?’ If I wasn’t wearing a helmet, they could’ve both been having a very different conversation.
“At the moment I’m getting all the support I need from my family, but I do think counselling could help. I still find it hard to process and deal with what has happened to me. I think I have a lot of emotion that needs to be released.”
Since her injury, Sarah has been passionate about advocating the use of cycle helmets.
She said: “My helmet took the full force of the impact and surprisingly on examination it was still intact, so although it wasn’t a particularly expensive helmet, it certainly saved my life.
I hope that telling my story may help some people in making the right decision about wearing a helmet. Each day I look at my family who have been so upset, worried and stressed about me and think about how different things could’ve been.
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