Life changed for Sharon after accident with trailer
As the All Blacks clashed with Ireland on Saturday night, Matamata woman Sharon Edge had bigger worries than last-minute drop goals.
With each play, she was on the edge of her seat, nervous that one of the players might catch a knock to the head.
The survivor of a traumatic brain injury, Ms Edge couldn’t help feeling concern for the players not wearing head gear.
Fifteen years ago, the avid rugby fan’s life was changed in an instant when she was struck in the head by a car trailer.
‘‘It was just a dent,’’ she said.
‘‘I was helping to turn the trailer ready for painting and I slipped. It started coming towards me and the mud guard hit me right between the eyes.’’
Immediately afterwards, Ms Edge did not realise that anything was wrong and said she seemed to be in a state of shock.
‘‘I don’t remember the drive home and I don’t remember serving everyone dinner that night. It was like I was unconscious without anyone realising it.’’
The following day she woke up with a bad headache, took some pain killers and shook it off. ‘‘We had friends coming and we hadn’t seen them in ages so I didn’t want to cancel,’’ she said.
By the end of the night the headaches were worsening, so Ms Edge once again took some pain killers and went to bed.
However, when she woke
acci- the next morning something was wrong.
‘‘ My forehead was swollen that I could see she said.
‘‘I went to the doctor, who immediately ordered a CT scan.’’
The scan showed that the impact from the trailer had smashed her sinus bone, which had pierced the lining of her brain.
With her symptoms rapidly worsening, she was sent for an MRI scan that revealed she had sustained a traumatic brain injury.
‘‘ I had brain bleeds, and when the bleeding stopped I was left with scar tissue, which stops parts of my brain functioning as they used to.’’
Doctors were unsure of the extent or the complexity of the damage but Ms Edge said the lasting consequences became explicitly clear over the first few months.
‘‘ My short term memory was badly affected. My house turned into sticky note city – there were sticky notes plastered everywhere, reminding me to ‘turn off the tap’ or to ‘turn the lights off’.
‘‘ I would start making something on the stove, then the phone would ring and I would completely forget and the pot would burn to a crisp,’’ she knew seriously so it,’’ she said. ‘‘I still have days where I drop things and my speech is not that great when I’m tired.
‘‘I damaged the area of my brain which controls movement so I get tremors and it takes me a long time to learn new faces.’’
Now 45, Ms Edge said she also struggled with a significant change in personality following the accident.
‘‘I went from being quite shy to a bit cheeky with a big opinion. I started to get impatient really quickly and had no problem standing up for myself. For a while I didn’t like the new person and I didn’t have any control over it. It took me a few years to stop fighting that part of myself and accept it.’’
The adjustment was particularly difficult for her five young children who missed their ‘‘old mum,’’ she said.
‘‘It was hard for them in the beginning because I became different. I would forget to send them to school with lunch and things like that. The kids had to become my memory, although they actually told me recently that I used to cook them the same dinner two or three nights in a row and they never said a word.’’
With a strong support network of family and friends, Ms Edge has rebuilt her confidence and developed a number of coping mechanisms.
‘‘For ages I would get really down on myself if I forgot something or something went wrong but I don’t dwell on those things anymore. It has been hard and I know it still will be at times but I am just looking forward,’’ she said.
Listening to her favourite music, getting out into her garden and walking competitively have become her way to deal with her injury.
While she is in a good place now, Ms Edge said it took her a long time to come to terms with her injury and she would like to help others in similar situations.
She is also determined to help raise awareness around traumatic brain injuries.
‘‘If I could prevent it ever happening to anyone else, I would. I want people to be aware of the dangers of a head injury and to recognise the symptoms [headache, clumsiness, irritability and fatigue]. Some people pass knocks on the head off. No matter how small, they should see a doctor straight away. I didn’t.’’
This Friday, June 22 is the THINK! Hats on Friday event, where businesses around New Zealand are invited to have staff wear hats for the day to raise money for the organisation.
THINK! is a head injury network for Kiwis which aims to raise awareness around the ‘‘silent epidemic’’.
Every day in New Zealand at least 90 people suffer a brain injury and Ms Edge said it only took one small incident to have ‘‘ your whole life changed forever’’.