February 1993 and I was inbound on an aircraft from Moscow to
Heathrow Airport. After a particularly tedious 13 hour shift, my
usual persistent headache had become so intense. I had to
concentrate so deeply on driving home all the while holding onto my
head wishing it would go away. I knew I had to make it home (17
miles from the airport). Somehow I made it and collapsed in a heap.
From that moment, I lost my memory.
Red lighted by ambulance to hospital in Berkshire UK for immediate
surgery as I had an AVM (Arteriovenous Malformation). The AVM was
operable but after two failed attempts at embolisation, we decided
to wait until after our wedding to make a decision on surgery
options. Not long after I was discharged from hospital, on bed
rest, Mr Adams Consultant Neurosurgeon at Oxford Radcliffe
Infirmary, gave me the option of stereotactic radio surgery to be
carried out at Sheffield Royal Hallamshire Hospital. The date was
set for May, so I had to take it very easy as I was still prone to
bleeds. I was so lucky to be offered this new and innovative
surgery and I was given an expected 2 year recovery period. My
employers, British Airways, told me I had very little chance of
returning to fly, but Julie (Clark) chose not to listen to this and
battled on to get ︎better.
I listened to my healing brain and body, did as I was told,
rested, ate well and attended all appointments for check ups, and
even took up embroidery, used crossword puzzles and listened to
music to relax. Never did I worry about the future as I knew that I
would be OK! I knew I was very lucky and as luck would have it,
returned to my career of flying. I became a trainer and facilitator
for British Airways Cabin Services enjoying every interaction with
people from all across the Globe.
We made a life changing decision to explore Australia leaving
England behind. We also wanted to show our girls a new world of
options available to them and so in 2006 we emigrated to Australia
where we have now settled on the Central Coast of NSW.
My life is pretty normal and after being advised on `being
︎careful︎ having children`, our two beautiful daughters are now
aged 17 & 18. As I couldn`︎t remember my wedding day to Robert
in 1993, he organised a renewal of vows in 2004 just before we
emigrated, so I got to feel that beautiful emotion and joy of a
marriage. What a wonderful experience that was.
As for my memory, it hasn`︎t fully come back and I do experience
flashbacks occasionally. Therapies gave me the tools to manage from
a super network of professional organisations who fully understand
ABI. (Acquired Brain Injury).
I always wanted to share my story to help people who may be going
through a similar journey, daunting angiograms, numerous CT scans
and lots of hospital visits. I began to study medicine, natural
therapy and meditation techniques to instil a sense of calm for my
brain and very inquisitive mind. My ︎mindful︎medicine has helped me
to cope with simple daily lifestyle practices from handling the
smallest of pressure, and most of all being around people who
Finding Synapse at an Interagency meeting in Epping Sydney at BIA
NSW, was a godsend. This was the most important remedy. I feel
whole again knowing I am not different, that people do understand
some of the complexities that can creep up in time. Stress is a big
thing, and affects me the most. I have trained as a Lifestyle
Practitioner to assist and help communities to make healthy food
choices. With inspiration from Jamie Oliver︎s Food Revolution Day,
I became a volunteer Ambassador for the Central Coast, and more
recently started a NFP organisation called ` Food Whisperers` to
bring awareness into the community.
I have made life a place to be happy and healthy, through
adversity and with my tenacious personality I endeavour to assist
those who need it most. Yes I still need help and yes I still get
tears as lots of emotion comes up. I stay strong knowing I am
walking a healthy path and that my ABI will help me to appreciate
others needs as well as my own.
Believe me when I say that I understand, I have been there︎ and
yes I cry with joy knowing we care about each other and that I am
able to share my story with you.
Julie is also a proud BANGONABEANIE Ambassador.