In July 2015 Gwent Police PC 1060, Joanna Brown had a spontaneous bleed on the brain, specifically an Acute Subdural Haematoma. Before this, Joanna was a fit and healthy young woman.
Joanna was out with a new running club when the injury occurred, she had had no symptoms beforehand.
At A&E Joanna lost consciousness and later woke up in intensive care only to be informed she'd had a craniotomy. The doctors treating Joanna said she was lucky to be alive!
After some weeks in hospital Joanna was sent home with a shaven head and lots of different medicines. She was in excruciating pain and was traumatised by what had happened.
Joanna has now returned to work with continual support and reasonable adjustments, joined the club she was running with on the day of her injury and has also taken part in many other sporting events to build up her health.
She still struggles with mental fatigue, bad memory, anxiety and low self-esteem, for which she is being supported for.
According to a study conducted by leading UK-wide brain injury charity Headway, around three quarters (74%) of brain injury survivors feel like a new person following their injury.
Headway have supported Joanna throughout her journey and their campaign A New Me, has provided a platform for people to creatively share their experiences in order to challenge misperceptions of brain injury while demonstrating the value of having access to the right help, at the right time.
For the campaign as part of Brain Injury Awareness Week (8th-14th May) Joanna and one of her colleagues created a video of her journey: https://youtu.be/1UBveudO2J8
Joanna said: 'I want to show others that you can beat the mental health aspect that often comes with a brain injury by changing your mindset. My life has been enriched in so many ways despite this adversity. The new me was a gradual process and it didn't happen overnight. I suffered depression and anxiety after my injury due to intrusive thoughts and trauma, however I have consciously decided to fight these side effects and to look for the positives in the face of adversity. I noticed I'm smiling in every photo. Life can be good after such a traumatic unexpected event. The new me is determined to pursue my life goals and wishes, whilst there are still difficult days, positive thinking is the way forward to beat the hard times. I'd also like to add a special thanks to my family, friends and work colleagues who supported and have continued to support me...I returned to work in February 2016 on a restricted basis where I was able to work with reasonable adjustments and went on to have my daughter in October 2016. I'd like to add a massive thank you to Gwent Police and the team in Occupational Health who are continuing to provide ongoing support. I'm still dealing with what happened and the after effects of my injury but I'm just grateful to be here and be lucky enough to have a supportive employer.'
For more information on the Headway charity and to see others sharing their story to raise awareness of the condition go to www.headway.org.uk.