A quick warning guys: This blog contains very grim and potentially upsetting scenes. I would recommend you avoid reading it particularly if you have experience of serious head injury, I would hate for it to trigger any traumatic memories!
If you haven’t yet read Part 1 please do so by selecting it from the menu on the right hand side of this page or clicking here:
If you’re sure you want to carry on then ok. So where was I? Oh yes the ambulance had taken me to Manchester Royal Infirmary with multiple skull fractures and a very serious closed head wound. This means that it is not possible to see the damage caused by the impact because the skull was not pierced and the damage is inside the skull. This is where the MRI scan comes in, this is not to be confused with Manchester Royal Infirmary. MRI in this case stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (yes ok I did have to google that!), it’s a type of scan that gives a really detailed picture of inside the body and in this case your head! you often hear of sportsmen/women having an MRI on an injury. Before they used the MRI scanner for head injuries the medical staff had to more or less guess what damage had been caused and coupled with the poor knowledge of the brain (much has been learned recently and knowledge is increasing all the time through research), fatalities were high. I have since been told that if my accident happened 20 years ago I would have certainly been dead. Quite a grim thing to think about.
The scan revealed quite a bad injury with bruising to much of my brain where it had bounced about inside my skull shearing on the rough interior. But mainly to the front and back of my brain. Damage to the front of the brain during a traumatic brain injury can be very damaging. The frontal lobes are our emotional control centre, and are involved in planning, organizing, memory, judgment, impulse control, social and sexual behavior. Damage to the frontal lobes can completely change someone’s personality There is much to say on that but that is for another time.
Damage to the back of the brain affects a persons vision, it is interesting to think that you see with your brain and not your eyes. The eyes are simply cameras that feed images to your brain. The brain makes sense of the things that we see, just like the way you are reading this now you are using your knowledge of the English language which is not stored in your eyes. Think of a TV, it is not the screen that makes the picture but the electronic circuits inside. If you submerge the whole TV in water then the TV breaks yet the screen will remain intact. Just as my eyeballs were undamaged yet I have been left partially sighted with double vision from the damage to the back of my brain ie the circuitry in the back of the TV.
If you stub your toe or hit your thumb with a hammer then it becomes inflamed (swells up), this is your body sending more blood to the area to speed up the healing process. The same thing happens with the brain, only when the brain swells it has nowhere to go; it is trapped inside the skull. This increases the pressure in the skull called intracranial pressure which can be very damaging leading to burst blood vessels and further brain damage. This pressure needs to be relieved, they do this by drilling a hole through your skull. It struck me what an enormous responsibility this is for the surgeon that makes the hole, one slip and that person’s life is ruined, certainly not a task for someone with a hangover! I don’t suppose for a second that the skull makes a hisssss like when you open a can of Coke but that’s how I imagine it!
I was not out of the woods yet however the next stage was induced hypothermia, ie they lower the body’s temperature in a controlled environment. I am not medically qualified so I don’t want to say anything that is false but as far as I know this further reduces inflammation and prevents fever that can be very damaging to the injured brain.
It was at this stage that my mother got the phone call from the hospital at about 3am. It was a nurse who informed her that I had been the victim of a very serious hit and run, I had a very severe brain injury and she was to get to the hospital in Manchester as fast as she could. When she asked if I would be alive when she got there the nurse said she couldn’t promise anything and she was to get there as quickly as she could.
Now I don’t have any children but my dad tells me that I wont understand how harrowing that phone call was until I do. It’s a silly thing to feel guilty for but I cant help it! Sorry mum!
My sister and her boyfriend were first on the scene as they live in Manchester then my house mates Tim and Graham, followed by my mum as soon as she got there. I had not been cleaned up, My head was the size of a watermelon and I was covered in blood grit and glass from the pavement and windscreen of the car. Anybody who has ever hit their head will know how much blood is involved, there was a copious amount which required several blood transfusions to keep me alive. I was apparently unrecognizable and ice cold on a life support machine an extremely grim thought that I can barely believe myself. My head was in a clamp holding my head together as it had split wide open before a surgeon could stitch it up once I was a little more stable. Although I have had 2 sets of cosmetic scar camouflaging treatment on it, I still bear a scar on the left side of my forehead going down to where some glass narrowly missed my left eye. No attempt had been made to clean me up at this stage because that was superficial treatment, I was critical and it was overwhelmingly likely that I wouldn’t survive.
An emergency bed had been prepared for me in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) at Hope hospital (now called Salford Royal) one of the leading neuro units in the UK. I was very lucky that the incident happened in Manchester close to the advanced hospitals they have here. If it was in my hometown of Scarborough where they only have a small hospital I would have to have been taken by helicopter to the nearest neuro unit in Hull or Leeds. The Golden Hour I mentioned in the part one would have been and gone and without the specialist Emergency treatment I received in MRI I wouldn’t have survived until the sun came up.
I was very carefully taken in an ambulance to Hope Hospital (Salford Royal) where I had a bed in the Intensive Care Unit this building was to be my home for a little while. You often hear of people being induced into a coma after a head injury but there was unnecessary as I fell into a natural coma on the night, it really was a near death experience. Researching this as I have been doing I have come to realise how many people it takes to recover from a head injury and how thankful I am to everyone that helped me that night. I wasn’t initially expected to last the night and I have run a half marathon for the last 4 years running – cheers NHS I literally owe you my life!
I’ll stop there and pick things up next time, I’m sorry if that upset anybody that is why I wrote a warning first, brain injury is a horrible thing, I still live with the effects of that night almost 9 years later and will do for the rest of my life. Compared to so many however I am so fortunate. Public awareness of TBI is very low I would like to raise that awareness. I normally try to make the blogs I write more upbeat, please read my previous ones at www.braininjurybrooke.co.uk however awareness cannot be raised by sugarcoating the facts, I want to tell my story as best I can.
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