A teenager living with brain injury speaks to TAC Bulletin readers

Hi, my name is Charlotte and I suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2008. I was on holiday on the Isle of Wight at the time. My brain condition was very unique as it is very rare. I had a brain haemorrhage, an AVM (Arterio Venous Malformation) and an Aneurysm. I was only 11 when it happened. Altogether I have had 5 brain operations.

Living with a brain injury can be hard as it can restrict you from doing certain things. Fortunately I was quite lucky in my recovery in the fact that I could do anything if I wanted to, although I have been left with quite a few hidden deficits which are things that I struggle within day to day life, but no one else can see them. For instance, I get extremely tired very easily, which means I may not be able to do as many things in the day as I would like to.

Often a traumatic injury like mine can effect memory. Luckily, my memory is quite good although I have problems with my short term memory. The way this affects me is that I can’t take on too many tasks at once as I will instantly forget. I have to have things broken down so I can remember them one by one.

Another hidden challenge is that I struggle to understand things. I need to have things simplified as the pathways in my brain have been damaged.

I have also been left with a problem with certain motion types. I can’t describe it but it’s a feeling in my head that I get with certain motion, such as being in a lift or being in a fast car that goes over a hill, for example. It makes me feel anxious as I don’t know from day to day what motion will affect me.

Apart from all these little things, I have recovered really well. I am very involved with The Children’s Trust, which is a charity that provides specialist rehabilitation, they really helped me following my brain injury.

In January 2017 I was asked by The Children’s Trust to be part of a project, creating a handbook for teenagers living with brain injury. I was asked to give my advice to other teenagers based on my own experiences for the book.

The handbook is called “Me and my brain” and it covers lots of different topics such as driving, friendships, education, relationships etc. The book was a great project and I really enjoyed taking part in it.

I have known for a long time that I would like to work at The Children’s Trust to help other children. I can empathise with them which I think is really important. I have had my own challenges I have had to face, so I can relate to other children in a similar situation.

The latest challenge for me is learning to drive. I started lessons in a manual in January 2017 which I found quite tricky. In November 2017 I took my driving test but failed and had booked another one for January. Then in December 2017, 4 days before Christmas I was involved in a serious car accident. Having this crash knocked my confidence with driving and I didn’t know whether I’d be brave enough to drive again, but I had lessons even after the crash and built up my confidence again!

I then took my January test but failed for the second time. I realised that driving a manual is too stressful so have decided to switch to automatic.

Fingers crossed I pass as I want to be independent and to be able to drive myself anywhere if I want to. I am continuing to push myself in day to day life and look forward to what adventures come next.



Charlotte helped in creating ‘Me and my brain: a handbook for teenagers affected by acquired brain injury’. To order a copy visit www.thechildrenstrust.org.uk/handbook

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