Hello, my name is Emma.
On October 5th 2019, I will be trekking up Snowdon with the support of close family and friends, in hope of raising money for the amazing Neurology department at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (CVUHB).
Please take a second to read my story, and understand why this means so much to me.
In June 2018 I started suffering with severe headaches. Such headaches would wake me up early hours in the morning, confused, scared and unable to open my eyes. I knew right then that these headaches were not normal.
After numerous visits to my GP surgery, I was told that the headaches were migraines, and was prescribed medication to help relieve the pain.
However, by September 2018 my symptoms became increasingly worse.
Such symptoms included continuous pain up the right side of my neck, and pins and needles down the right side of my body. I would experience complete black outs/dizzy spells randomly throughout the day, as well as confusion.
It wasn’t until a visit back home to see family and friends that I knew something was very wrong.
Whilst driving one evening I said to my partner that I could not drive as I could not see, and that he would have to take over. My vision had started to deteriorate.
On October 3rd 2018 I went to the opticians and was told that I had a severe case of Papilledema. This meant that the optic nerve inside my eyes had swollen, however, they were unaware of the cause.
That evening I decided to get things checked out, and went to the A&E department at The Royal Gwent Hospital. Here, I had a CT scan, from which the doctors discovered that an Arachnoid Cyst had burst inside my head, causing severe pressure to the brain.
By 6am on October 4th 2018 I was admitted to the high dependency ward, T4 at the CVUHB. And by 9am I was undergoing emergency brain surgery to drain the blood from my head, reducing pressure to the brain.
The consultants confirmed that the Arachnoid Cyst had in fact been present since birth, and that it had not caused any problems, until now. They suggested that the symptoms I had been experiencing were seizures resulting from pressure to the brain, and that I had been extremely lucky.
Post-surgery, the consultants were happy that the majority of the blood had been drained, and advised I had a small tube coming from my head for 24 hours to carry on draining the blood.
After 5 days, I was released from hospital, and my recovery at home continued.
I was absent from work for 4 months, and my studies in the hope of becoming a Lawyer were put on hold.
Recovery was tough, physically and psychologically. The majority of the time I felt helpless, and questioned whether I would ever return to work, to my normal day to day activities. I lost weight, as well as my confidence. I hated leaving the house.
I spent most days reading about other people’s stories, similar to mine. They expressed their emotions on how they had lost their memory, as well as their ability to walk, and sometimes talk.
And suddenly, something clicked.
I realised that I was one of the lucky ones.
I returned to work on a phase return basis, and started to put weight back on, as well as gain back some confidence. I started to like myself again.
In April 2019 I had my 6 months follow up appointment, where my consultant confirmed that following a recent MRI scan, the Subdural Brain Haemorrhage had been resolved. He explained however, that unfortunately, they cannot do anything about the cyst. This is due to the brain continuously producing fluid, and therefore if they were to drain the cyst, it would be back within 24 hours.
Instead of worrying, I thought to myself, this is fine. I remembered some of the stories I had read, and thought, I am, and have been extremely lucky. And one of the ways I accepted the cyst was going to be with me forever was by naming it.
His name is Cyril the cyst.
It has been almost 9 months since my brain surgery, and although my journey to recovery continues, the journey so far has taught me to appreciate everything in life that little bit more.
No words could ever express how grateful I am to everyone who has helped me along the way.
However, without the amazing Neurology surgeons and staff at the CVUHB, I do not think I would be here today. The work they carry out is unbelievably amazing. Not only do they donate their time to helping others, but they donate their time to saving lives. Which is why I will be doing a sponsored walk up Snowdon, on Saturday 5th of October 2019, marking 12 months since my brain surgery.
The monies raised will be donated to ward T4 and ward B4 (the two wards I was on during my time at the hospital). It will contribute towards numerous aspects of pre and post-surgery, such as equipment’s, as well as the possibilities of encouraging more physiotherapy and counselling sessions.
But most importantly, it will give those who have been less fortunate the chance to live a more normal life.
I would therefore be so extremely grateful if you could please sponsor me. As being able to give something back would mean the absolute world to me.
Thank you x