The lives of Denise Ward, 62, and her daughter Tanya, 40, changed completely overnight, when Tanya suffered a massive brain haemorrhage in 2014. Here Denise tells their story;
“Tanya was a full-time working mother with a 13 year old daughter to care for. Tanya and her daughter lived with me, as I suffer from health issues and Tanya helped support me with daily living.
I found Tanya on the morning of 1st February 2014, she had been violently sick and was unable to talk. She had a suspected bleed on the brain, and after arriving at Harlow hospital she had deteriorated rapidly. After an agonising two-hour wait she was referred on to Queens Hospital.
I was told that the bleed was so severe that the chance of Tanya surviving the operation was very slim and the resulting brain damage could be very severe. The seven hour wait to hear that she had survived surgery was agonising. It was such a traumatic experience and nobody could reassure me or give me any comfort that things would be OK.
After being in a coma for 2 weeks, Tanya miraculously awoke and initially seemed quite bright. At that point I thought the nightmare was over, but little did I know, it had only just begun!
Tanya was discharged from hospital on 1st March 2014. The only rehabilitation she received was a brief period of physiotherapy while she was in hospital. There was no after care or further support. We were just were told to ‘go back to our normal life’.
At home, the extent of Tanya’s disabilities became apparent; she has both short term and long term memory loss and no recollection of her life before her injury or even the clothes or food she likes. How can she get back to a life she can’t remember? I am terrified to leave her in case she lets a stranger into the house, or goes out and gets lost.
To make matters worse, this was not the full extent of Tanya’s injury and in March 2015 she had more surgery to address aneurysms that had developed. We still do not know that the operation has been a success. To me her brain is a ticking time bomb, which adds to my fear and anxiety for her.
Around this time, I found out about Headway Essex and for the first time since Tanya’s brain haemorrhage, I finally saw a light in this dark place we have been for so long. At last I found someone who knew exactly what I was going through and could offer some help.
We now have a Headway Community Support worker who has helped to get the right support in place and is helping us with strategies to compensate for the memory problems. We have seen an occupational therapist and Tanya is receiving physiotherapy for her arm and hand, for the first time since her injury. Headway has also helped to ensure that we get the correct benefits, as Tanya cannot return to work. This is all positive for Tanya and makes my life easier as a carer.
It feels very lonely even though Tanya is here with me because now she is a completely different person and I miss the old Tanya so much. With Headway’s support I can see hope that things can get better. I know now that I am not alone and having Headway’s support makes me feel safer.”