To find out what happened to me, I have to look at pieces of paper. I don't remember any of it.
On 6th December 2013, I was driving up a road very close to my house. I was turning right into a junction when my car was hit by another vehicle on my passenger side, I was pushed across the junction, up onto the kerb and into a school wall and railings. The ambulance and fire brigade were called and due to the extent of my injuries, the Air ambulance was called. The firemen cut the roof off of my car so I could be removed. At the roadside, the Air ambulance doctor inserted chest drains as I had a chest trauma and because of the head trauma, I was put into a medically induced coma. I was then transferred by land to Kings College Hospital in London; the Air ambulance doctor came with me in the land ambulance. My local hospital is 0.4 miles away from where I crashed my car but Kings Hospital is 33 miles away, so why was I taken that far?
According to my discharge notification, my reason for admission was-
Driver of car found on passenger seat, vomiting. Initial GCS relevant M5 V2 E1, PERL, intubated and sedated prior to transfer. Main diagnosis- Bilateral chest drains inserted, left eye laceration, blood left ear, abrasion chest.
I had to do some research to find out what most of this meant. GCS is a Glasgow Coma Scale; it is measured by these functions- Motor response (M), Verbal response (V) and Eye opening (E). My motor response scored 5 which means localised to pain, my verbal response scored 2 which means no words, only sounds. My eye opening scored 1 which means none. This gave me a GCS of 8 which means a severe brain injury, the lowest score is 3. If you are graded 3-8 on the GCS this means you will result in long term impairments in cognition (thinking), physical skills and/or emotional and behavioural functioning. PERL is used to assess a patients eyes and the pupil size is recorded in millimetres. I was sedated and intubated; intubation means to insert a breathing tube into the trachea for mechanical ventilation. Basically, I wasn't breathing adequately.
So what was the extent of my injuries?
The CT scan of my head demonstrated a traumatic right frontal subarachnoid haemorrhage, some tentorial subdural haematoma and a small fracture haematoma adjacent to my left parietal bone. You are probably wondering what all that means, I did too. So, I researched it. I had a couple of bleeds but I didn't research the haematoma, the only one I did research was the subarachnoid haemorrhage, purely because the word arachnoid means a spider. Turns out there is a subarachnoid space in your brain and you have an arachnoid membrane, so I haven't got any spiders in my brain. Thank goodness. What I did find out is that a subarachnoid haemorrhage is a form of stroke and is a medical emergency. Up to half of all cases are fatal, 10-15% of casualties die before reaching hospital and those who survive often have neurological and cognitive impairment. So I was one of the lucky ones!
After I was moved out of A&E at Kings, I was moved to Liver Intensive care. There wasn't anything wrong with my liver but that was where the only trauma bed they had available was. Whilst I was in a coma there, my left eye was operated on. In the accident my bottom tear duct had been cut in half, so they inserted a silicon stent (tube) into my tear duct on my bottom eyelid so that my own tear duct would grow and heal around the stent. The stent would then have to be removed at a later date. To cut a long story short, this stent was removed in 2014 with some tweezers and gentle tugging, but the operation was unsuccessful so I now have a ‘discontinued' tear duct and I now cry out of one eye. The whole thing makes me feel sick. I was brought out of the coma after 4 days, moved onto a high dependency unit and then on to the ward. 8 days after the accident, I was discharged home with some paracetamol. When I left, my family weren't given any information and weren't told that I had a brain injury. They all expected me to come home and start getting back to normal, which I didn't. I had a tough 12 weeks at home before my first follow up appointment which then gave me the knowledge that I had a brain injury and I wasn't just going mad.
Thankfully (I think), I have a couple of photos to prove that a couple of these things actually happened to me otherwise I wouldn't believe it.
Thanks to Facebook, someone posted a picture of just after my accident, nothing rings a bell or brings anything back when I see it but at least it proves I was in an accident (my car is the corsa against the wall).
On the night I was admitted to hospital, my Sister took a picture of me in a coma and I'm glad she did. Obviously I won't remember being in a coma but at least this picture proves that I was...
So, all of these things happened to me, I don't understand how all this can happen that has changed my life yet I have no memory of any of it. How is that fair? Does my brain hate me?
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