A NURSERY nurse is looking to the future after she ‘miraculously survived’ a bleed on her brain which she thought was just a hangover.
Gemma Beales from Alcester had to undergo lifesaving surgery and spent months in hospital following the bleed, which even left her needing to learn how to read and write again.
Five years ago the now 33 year-old was working as a teacher and living in Coventry. After a Saturday night out with friends she woke up with a ‘horrendous’ headache which she believed was a hangover.
But it was to prove far more serious.
Gemma told The Observer: “ My head felt so heavy, I couldn’t even lift it off the table, chair, shoulder or whatever was near to me to rest it on.
“I don’t have any memories of the next day, or the month after that, but apparently my mum and dad found me the next day on the bathroom floor. I’d collapsed and had been having seizures.”
Gemma was rushed to University Hospital Coventry where an MRI scan revealed she had a bleed on her brain along with a number of blood clots over her body.
The next day she had seriously deteriorated and needed an emergency operation which saw a large piece of her skull – around the size of a CD – removed to relieve pressure on her brain. She was in a medically-induced coma for a month.
She added: “They didn’t know if I’d survive, or what long-term effects the brain injury might have had, but that operation saved my life. Even my consultant said it was a miracle I’d survived.”
It took a long time for Gemma to recover, with another operation needed to put her skull back together.
Gemma said: “My injury was on the left side of my brain, which controls language. As a teacher, I’d been used to teaching children to read and write, and suddenly I was in the same situation myself.
“As a result of my brain injury, I had also developed epilepsy. Despite this, I was determined to go back to work.”
While her condition meant she could not go back to being a full-time teacher, Gemma got a job as a teaching assistant and now works as a Nursery Nurse Practitioner.
She has since also married Mike, who she was seeing at the time of the bleed, and the couple have welcomed son Lewis into the world.
Not wanting to let her brain injury stop her, Gemma recently took on the Three Peaks Challenge, raising £1,500 for the teams who had saved her life.
She said: “I’ve been helped by so many people at University Hospital and I really wanted to give something back.
“I want to do everything I can to make people aware of the outstanding dedication and support that I’ve received from the NHS staff who saved my life.”