Road traffic accident: Katie

Katie Hithersay, from London, was left with a brain injury after a cyclist crashed into her, fracturing her skull. Katie shares her story.

Published: November 2015. Date of brain injury: March 2015. Katie in hospital after her accident Eight months ago, I snuck out of work early, with the intention of getting a bus into central London. I wanted to treat myself to something nice in John Lewis. Unfortunately I never made it to John Lewis. I came round in A&E five hours later. I was told that I had been knocked down by a cyclist and smashed open the back of my head. I fractured my skull at the back, and due to the impact, I had bleeding and swelling on my frontal lobes.  All I remember thinking was that it was just a cut and a bit of concussion, and that I would be going home in the morning. Unfortunately the CT scan showed more serious damage than that. I was in hospital for eight days in total, on a neuro injuries ward! Once the realisation hit me, that I had a serious injury I was quite scared. I remember an occupational therapist trying to conduct an assessment on me and asking me who the Prime Minster was..... but I couldn't remember!! I knew it was 'some posh man' and could almost visualise his face, but I couldn't make the connection. I was very scared at this point, and burst into tears! I can't remember much about my thoughts at the time, other than that I HAD to get out of the hospital because it was very uncomfy and I hated the food!  I was admitted to Kings College at Denmark Hill, London and honestly felt as though I had the best care in the world. My only wish was that the food was better! I think it would have been helpful to have received more information on brain injury earlier though. It was a couple of months after that I had a follow up with a neurologist who gave me a book called 'building bridges after brain injury'. I think the book was a pilot scheme and I found it really helpful, but wish I had received it sooner, perhaps when I was discharged from hospital. Katie in hospital surrounded by flowersSince the injury it took a good couple of months to start to feel a bit more normal. At first I was very disoriented and slept most of the time. I am tracking my progress and rehabilitation in my blog: to give you an idea of how it is going! Life has had its usual ups and downs since!  For the most part, my closest friends and family were brilliant. I stayed with my sister after I was discharged and she did everything she could for me. She made sure I was eating healthy, nutritious food, had clean comfy clothes, and sat with me when I didn't have the energy to talk or be awake. When I was back in my own flat, my best friends came round and cooked for me and cleared everything away. This very practical support was greatly appreciated at the time. Unfortunately, some people were not very understanding. In trying to provide a positive spin, some comments were more hurtful. Such as 'it could have been worse' - when you're in pain and highly emotional due to the brain damage, it isn't a good thing to hear!  Fatigue and sleep disturbance are my lasting issues. I try and keep lists and set reminders on my phone and work calendar throughout the day to prompt me. I kept a journal and practiced a lot of mindfulness exercises. All I can say is that doing this made me feel like I had some control over the situation, over how I was reacting to it. I thought of myself as a parent to a child, and I had to look after that child to help her get better.  I make sure that I do at least 20 minutes moderate exercise a day. I walk to and from work which takes 20 minutes each way, and on the weekend I do yoga, ballet and swimming (when I have the energy, which comes and goes in waves).  I hope that this injury doesn't affect my future, but anxieties about it are there. I try not to think about it for now and just focus on feeling as good as I can now. I live each day steadily and practice gratitude!  I would say that the best advice I have is to just accept it. You can't be angry at what happened because you'll never get better. You just have to re-assess what you have now and what you can enjoy now with what is left of you, or left of your child.   Katie recovering
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