How long is a piece of string?

Anyone that has suffered any form of brain injury will understand how frustrating it is when you get asked one particular question.

“So, are you fully recovered now then?”

You may as well be asking, “How long is a piece of string?”

I know that I have banged on about the trials and tribulations that go hand in hand with living with a brain injury, but I just wanted to tell you about the difficulties that come when trying to explain to someone just what it is like once you are almost back to your ‘old self’.

There was a documentary on the BBC the other day that should have been my favourite show on the planet. Having my two loves intertwined together on one screen at the same time should have been extraordinary; Louis Theroux (need I say more) and brain injuries. What could be better?

The thing is, is this; I came away from it all feeling a little disheartened. I suppose what I was hoping was that the documentary would finally help to show those of you what it is like to live with a brain injury, a little snippet into our world; a way of bridging the gap between people’s perceptions of brain injury and the reality that exists.

Of course, as we all know, everyone’s brain injury is different; therefore everyone’s story is different. And whilst Louis did a great job of asking interesting questions, like he normally does, I just did not feel that the documentary was able to show the expansiveness of brain injury and the effect it has on all aspects of life. There was a brief introduction into relationships, whether that be between mother and son or husband and wife, there was a small fragment looking at the slant on invisible illnesses, and there was even some good insight into introducing the ‘new you’, post brain injury. But what there wasn’t, what I really felt was missing, was that none of the stories were made particularly relatable.

Now that I have started working back at Headway Devon I have been privileged enough to work with people with a range of different brain injuries. For me, the one thing that really stands out is that brain injuries can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you are old, young, black, white, rich, poor, female or male. It doesn’t matter if you have dined with the Queen or fought for your Country.

Brain injuries are not fussy like that.

Brain injuries do not discriminate between who deserves it and who does not.

Brain injuries happen, and that is that.

And the same is true for recovery. For some people recovery is a fast process, for others it may be slow. But what everyone needs to remember is this. No one can make a 100% recovery from a brain injury.

Yes, you can have an amazing recovery.

Yes, you can start to enjoy things that you enjoyed before.

And yes, you can have your consultant say, “She was looking exceedingly well” (which I was very excited about happening last week).

However you cannot ever say just how recovered you are. Brains are complicated. Recovery is complicated. So therefore, brain injury recovery is a very, very complicated process.

So next time you think about asking someone post brain injury if they have fully recovered, stop and think, how long is a piece of string?


And here is some of my recovery….in video format…