My Brain Injury Story

Valerie Hurst

At the time of my accident, I had a very full and happy life.  I used to attend Ceroc dancing class once a week, I was a member of a walking group, undertook charity work and socialised with many friends.  I was also extremely independent. I worked full time as a business administrator near Kidderminster, Worcestershire. On the day of my accident,  May 15th, 2012, I  went into town on my lunch break, to do some shopping but, unbeknown to me, that would be the moment when my life was going to change forever

I did not make it back into work that day, nor ever again… I woke up in hospital several hours later and I was informed that a solid steel fence panel from a construction site had fallen on top of me as I walked past and caused a brain haemorrhage. I also suffered concussion and bruising on the brain and I spent two and a half weeks in hospital recovering sufficiently enough before being allowed home. My story with Headway began shortly after that.

Everything in my “old life” came to a stop.  To this day, in my “new life”, I still suffer with various side effects. I manage on a regular basis the ever present dizziness/vertigo, co-ordination and balance issues, undeniably made worse by exposure to fluorescent and bright lighting, migraines and fatigue. I am often clumsy and need to take extra care with tasks especially when cooking!  I find it quite overwhelming and disorientating to be around large crowds and noise. All of these invisible disabilities render me unable to return to work.

One of the biggest challenges about a brain injury for anyone, is accepting what’s happened to you along with the inevitable changes it brings. I fought with my injury by telling myself “ I am not going to be different”.  Everyone at Headway affected by brain injury has that in common. You fight for your right to stay as you were, not to change, and you do not accept what is happening.  This becomes very exhausting but Headway helped me accept my disability, to accept and get to know this “new” me. Once that sinks in, you can begin to move forwards.

I volunteer at Headway’s offices one afternoon a week in the wellbeing centre and very much enjoy giving something back.  I am still unable to work in paid employment, but I enjoy new hobbies and interests through Headway.  I have a different life now, a happy one, and I focus on what I can do, not on what is impossible.

I have good days, and  bad days like many other people. My life with a brain injury to begin with was full of cancelled plans. Now, after Headway’s help, it is all about pacing and sensible diary management.   Headway Worcestershire gave me the feeling of having a purpose again, helped me regain my confidence and even managed to give me a bit of “my old self” back for which I am truly grateful.

I am now able to help other Headway clients by offering self-help support sessions and I am hoping that by sharing my story with you today, it will help Headway Worcestershire continue their mission of improving life after brain injury for you or anyone you know who is suffering after such an experience.

Valerie Hurst
Brain injury survivor
Headway Worcestershire