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Sep
08

My name is Yvonne Rossiter. I am a 28 year old secondary school teacher from County Wexford.

On an average day in March 2015 I was in work and I felt a strange pain on my right hand side. After multiple trips to Wexford General Hospital and multiple diagnoses from possible collapsed lung to chest infections, I was told I had a Pulmonary Embolism, which is a blood clot in your lung. To dissolve this clot & to prevent any future clotting I was placed on an anti-coagulant called Warfarin for a six-month period. I had to have blood tests on a weekly basis in order to ensure that I was on the correct dose.


School broke for the Summer holidays & I was having the time of my life. I had a truly amazing family holiday to Iceland in July, spent the August bank holiday in Mayo with friends and was really excited as my parents were due to have a joint 50th birthday party on August 8th but unbeknownst to me, this was not meant to be.


I met a close friend for lunch on August 5th and I remember getting home that night but that is now the last thing I remember for a few weeks. I went to bed that night (August 5th) and overnight developed a large intracerebral brain hemorrhage, due to the Warfarin. I was rushed to Vincent’s University Hospital the following morning where they gave me vitamin K to counteract the blood thinning effects of the Warfarin. I was then rushed to Beaumont hospital and on Friday August 7th 2015 I had a Craniotomy, and was then placed in a medically induced coma. A piece of my skull was removed during the procedure & this was placed in my abdomen to keep the piece of bone alive & sterile.


When I woke up at the end of August I was convinced I was still in Iceland, which in a way was great as I had an extended trip! Unfortunately, my memories of this new portion of my trip were mine alone and my family had not had quite as good a trip as I had! My body took some time to adjust after waking up and I couldn’t understand why my body couldn’t do simple things like it used to, I couldn’t hold my balance or even sit upright in bed, I couldn’t read the smallest of articles or hold a pen , all things needed for teaching! As someone who is quite driven and organized, this was a very frustrating time but I was determined to get back to myself as soon as humanly possible. The first date I can properly remember was my mothers Birthday (August 19th). I had to get a friend to write on her birthday card for me but through physio & occupational therapy learnt how to read write & walk again, something which I was extremely nervous about as the piece of skull was still in my abdomen!


The staff in Beaumont hospital were outstanding, the team that looked after me from my neurosurgeon to all the nurses and careers on Adams McConnell ward were second to none & I will never be able to repay them for all they did for me.


I was sent back to Vincent’s hospital and stayed there until September 5th when I was sent home. This is when my recovery definitely accelerated as there is something about being finally able to sleep in your own bed which recovers some confidence. I returned to Beaumont on November 2nd to get the bone flap put back in place and I was home two days later. I had an extremely fast recovery from such a bleed and I returned to work before the Christmas holidays in late December 2015. I could have taken more time off work if I had of wanted to but I was so ready for everything to go back to normal & I was so happy I went back when I did. I knew I was ready.


My-lucky-horseshoe-scar-when-I-woke-upThe-scar-on-my-abdomen-where-the-bone-flap-was-placedNovember-3rd-after-the-bone-flap-was-replaced

My lucky horseshoe scar when I woke up, the scar on my abdomen where the bone flap was placed, and after the bone flap was replaced.


Recovery is not just a physical process but also psychological. As I write this article is it the one year anniversary of my brain hemorrhage and being completely honest it’s very emotional writing all this down for the first time. As I have been focused on getting life back to normal, it is only now that I am realising what I have overcome in such a short space of time and I am so proud and grateful to have recovered as quickly as I have.


August-3rd-2016-Giants-causeway

August 3rd 2016, at the Giants causeway

My intent with writing this is to show that whilst recovery times vary, there is always hope that life can return to normal in a relatively short space of time, although it may be hard to envision it when asking friends and family to read and write for you. Last year on August 5th I was in the middle of a fight for my life, whilst this year I was sitting on the Giants Causeway feeling the most comfortable I have ever been within my own body & mind.


I had a fantastic network of friends and my close family around me, which definitely helped with recovery. I am also certain that ensuring I kept a positive mindset and goal in mind kept my recovery going at speed. Very early on in my recovery I had given myself the goal of being back to work before Christmas break, and I could not be happier that I managed to reach that goal.

So, to conclude I suppose one of the main things I have taken from this experience is that whilst life is unpredictable we are still the drivers of our own ship, and even if your ship takes you on a coma tour of Iceland while family and friends worry at your bedside, there is still hope of a return to not only normality, but the ability to live the best life you can. I certainly intend to do so.

Sep
07

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland is calling on the Government to introduce a dedicated programme of investment in services for people with acquired brain injuries, and to urgently action and honour the commitments in their own Neuro-rehabilitation Strategy. The Neuro-rehabilitation strategy 2011-2015 outlines the roadmap needed from acute hospital stage to community rehabilitation and recovery. This strategy has not yet been implemented.
The current Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) pathway is extremely fragmented with extensive limitations due to the lack of neuro-rehabilitation services available. Addressing the gaps in services and the lack of a seamless pathway is essential for any reform within the health service. The lack of a neuro-rehabilitation pathway means that people who despite surviving the major trauma of a brain injury, end up living in inappropriate settings such as nursing homes, community hospitals and at home where families are unable to cope.
Acquired Brain Injury Ireland CEO Barbara O’ Connell said “More and more people are surviving brain injury but due to the lack of suitable services at the different stages these people are very often only left to exist. Those living with ABI and their families are forced to live on margins of our society. Many, despite their young age, are consigned to live in highly inappropriate settings such as nursing homes and community hospitals or at home where families don’t understand what is wrong with them, or what they can do to help. In Ireland neuro-rehabilitation services are patchy and varied across the country; it’s a lottery as to who receives what rehabilitation and whatever the outcome will be. This is having a detrimental impact on the lives of people with ABI and their families. This cannot continue”.
ABI Ireland’s already established community brain injury teams provide rehabilitation in the home for those who cannot get a bed in the NRH, or who have been discharged from the NRH or an acute hospital. An increase in community rehabilitation would allow organisations such as ABI Ireland increase their service capacity, reduce waiting lists and decrease the demand for hospital beds. As a result the success of rehabilitation will surge and lives transformed.
Early interventions play a key role in brain injury rehabilitation, as it increases the chances of success in an individual’s recovery. The lack of timely and appropriate rehabilitation services means valuable recovery time is lost and the outcomes for the individual are not optimal. A dedicated neuro-rehabilitation pathway is needed to provide the most efficient rehabilitation to those who acquire a brain injury.
Don’t Save Me; Then Leave Me. Rehabilitation is a Right, Not a Request is an advocacy campaign developed by ABI Ireland continuously calling for a dedicated programme of investment for people with an ABI. For more information see www.abiireland.ie
-ENDS-

Sep
07

Early interventions play a key role in brain injury rehabilitation as it increases the chances of success in an individual’s recovery. A dedicated neuro-rehabilitation pathway is needed to provide the most efficient rehabilitation to those who acquire a brain injury.
ABI Ireland’s community rehabilitation provides rehabilitation in the home for those who cannot get a bed in the NRH, or who have been discharged from hospital. An increase in community rehabilitation would reduce the demand for hospital beds and surge the success of rehabilitation, following early intervention.
The Neuro-rehabilitation strategy 2011-2015 outlines the roadmap needed from acute hospital stage to community rehabilitation and recovery. This strategy has not yet been implemented. ABI Ireland is calling on the government to introduce a dedicated programme of investment for people with acquired brain injuries and urgent implementation of the Neuro-rehabilitation Strategy.

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