Hello and welcome – it’s nice to meet you. And, of course, welcome back to any readers who have been here before. Let me introduce myself and tell you what’s happening here. I’m Katie, born and raised in the East Midlands, UK. Mum of one, lover of learning, coffee, dogs and cosy sofas (preferably, all at the same time).
The three stages of me.
A while back, I experienced an extraordinary event, a ‘one in god knows how many’ freak happening that had me branded the,
Luckiest, unlucky person. Ever.
Needless to say, my life was changed - parts of it beyond recognition. However, I’ve always been surprised at myself because I have never wished that it hadn’t happened. Granted, I’ve repeatedly pleaded with the universe to stop dumping its load of utterly shit consequences in my lap, but I’ve never seen the event itself as anything other than a ‘blip’.
I wouldn't go back and have it not happen
As weird as that may sound, had the event not happened, I can pretty much guarantee I wouldn’t be here now, writing this blog. I’d be at work, trying to squeeze in a coffee or loo break before heading to the next thing on my Ferris wheel of a to-do list. In fact, there’s about as much chance of Rishi Sunak donating his wife’s billions to feed the country's hungry children as there is the chance I’d be sitting on my sofa right now with a soft blanket and a small, fuzzy dog at my side, had the event not taken place. And that is what I want to write about. Not the dog - although she is brilliant
- but how, out of an absolutely terrifying, near-fatal accident, I’ve found more opportunities and blessings than adversity and anger (although both of these have featured heavily in my life for the past five and a bit years). The realisation of this now fuels my writing, so much so that I feel it’s almost my duty to share that amazing things can come from the darkest times. Maybe what I write will inspire you, it might help you to feel less alone, or I mean, there’s always the chance you'll find it utterly devoid of interest, but at least you gave it a try, and for that, I’m grateful.
So how have you done it?
A lot of how I’ve coped and moved forwards has been about choice. I chose to stay strong and fight to get through what happened to me. No matter how hopeless it often felt or how overwhelming the tears, frustration, anger, depression and the familiar feeling that my life had been totally ruined; I chose to be ruthless. I chose to channel my inner warrior because there was no way I was letting what happened get the better of me, at least not for longer than about a day. It took me a while to follow this self-set rule as I had some serious learning to do before I could embed it. But, as I said, I have been ruthless, and that comes down to one thing.
It’s the one power we all have, regardless of who we are, where we’re from, or what we’ve done or are doing. We always have the power of choice, no matter how small. Choice is what can and will make such a positive impact on your life if you’re willing to listen, absorb and grow. Looking for silver linings can produce a bit of a paradox. Sometimes they really help to make the best of a terrible situation; other times, they make me feel I’m belittling what happened to me. You have to find your own balance.
So what the hell happened to you?
The short version is that a large sheet of metal had fallen off the back of a lorry and eventually made its way through my windscreen into my skull – it was a terrifying and life-changing event, but perhaps not for the reasons you might first think. Granted, people have died from similar, even lesser injuries (for those of you with strong stomachs and the same morbid curiosity as me, you can see images in upcoming posts). It was terrifying because my then four-year-old son was with me, and had my car been a few inches closer to the right of the lane, it doesn’t bare thinking about how different it could have been. It was physically life-changing because now I have a large scar across my forehead, my right eye won’t open properly, the vision in the eye is skewed and I see double unless I’m looking straight forwards. I have no bone behind my sinuses, only metal mesh, so I’m more susceptible to things like meningitis. More recently, an MRI scan unveiled a greater extent of brain injury than anyone had realised.
You can see here where the neurologist has circled the damage on these MRI images.
Brain injury, but you write a blog?
Traumatic brain injury is responsible for a broad spectrum of symptoms. Unless you live with me or spend longer than a few hours with me on a regular basis, you won't see the effort it takes to try and function. It's not until I'm safe behind closed doors that the suffering from the brain injury really takes hold. So, I'm also aiming to raise awareness of what it can be like living with a damaged brain; after all, others can't help if they don't know what is wrong, and if there is one thing those of us with a TBI need, it's help and understanding.
So what makes you so special that we should take your advice on board?
I hear you! What about the people in normal jobs or those without employment, from 'normal' families and average backgrounds? I consider myself an average person; a 42-year-old mum of one, now a blogger and soon-to-be landlord (not of a pub, more the pity). I come from what I suppose can be considered a 'normal' family – if such a thing even exists? I grew up with a single mum and two sisters. We lived in a suburban town in Nottinghamshire in a semi-detached house on a street where most people knew each other. I'm assuming this is identical to millions of other families, similar to yours in some ways, I dare say? My point is that I don't come from a 'privileged' background in terms of family money or head starts in life; I've never been classed as uber-talented at anything, not to the point where it made me stand out from thousands of others who were doing the same thing as me, and I'm only considered 'special' to my family and friends. I'm just here doing my best to live life, be happy, take care of those I love, and get some satisfaction from my short time on Earth.
However, I do know I'm incredibly blessed to have survived what I went through, and the reason I did is twofold: The fantastic staff at Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham and, because I chose to.
We are all superheroes!
Not all choices are easy; even choosing which toilet roll to buy can be stress-inducing when you have to weigh up how much you can spend and how much you don't want your most sensitive parts to be ripped to shreds every time you wipe! Some decisions are tough, seemingly impossible, and that's what this blog is about - my difficult choices in the face of traumatic realisations, how I made the choices, faced and continue to battle with what happened to me on 11th July 2017 and how I'd like what I've been through, be of help to others. We do have superpowers; we are people with choices.