THE ACCIDENT THAT CHANGED MY LIFE AT 19 YEARS OLD

When I was 18 I left home to go to university in Swansea. It was a very exciting time, and Swansea was the other side of the country, a good five hour drive from my home in Kent. I was going to study Primary Education, and it was going to be a massive adventure, and the start of my independence. By the end of the first year I had decided that Primary Education wasn't for me, and I wanted to pursue a more creative field. I transferred onto a foundation course in Photojournalism, that would lead to a degree in Graphic Design later down the road. I was due to start the course in September of 2007, but in August 2007 something happened that turned my life upside down.



PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS POST CONTAINS PHOTOS OF A CAR ACCIDENT

It was a hot summer's day in August the day that everything changed. I can't remember exactly where we had just been, but I was sitting in the passenger seat of my then partner's Subaru on the way back to his student house. We were chatting away as usual and singing along to Lost Prophets. We could see the light changing green in the distance, so we maintained our speed of 30MPH to go through the light that was at the top of a short hill. We were always careful here, because you couldn't see if anything was approaching, but that is what traffic lights are for, so you don't expect anyone to be in your path as you come over the verge. Plus there is always plenty of time for the car approaching you to see you coming over the top if they are being careful.

Today was different though. Today was the day that someone decided to jump a red light and turn across our path. They were also at speed, so when we collided with them, my side of the vehicle took the full impact. I remember the exact moment we collided. I remember shouting my partner's name, and I remember there was nothing he could do. I remember that all I could hear was the massive bang and screech of tyres as we span. I remember the airbag instantly deploying, and it colliding with my face. There was burning sensation on my face as soon as the airbag touched me. It felt like the worst carpet burn I've ever experienced. It felt like my face had exploded. I was lucky that I was wearing sunglasses as they protected my eyes from the airbag.


It was over so fast, and the music was still playing on the stereo. I was in shock and all I could hear was "Standing on the rooftops, everybody scream your heart out". I just sat there. I didn't cry, I didn't make a sound. I was shaking uncontrollably and couldn't move myself out of the vehicle. A bystander was the one to come and get me out of the car, and move me to a safer place away from the car. I could see everyone else who was involved just sitting at the side of the road having a cigarette or chatting, as if nothing had happened. It was as though no one else was injured, but I was in so much shock I couldn't stop shaking, and my face was burning. I could tell it was swollen and I even thought that I may have lost some teeth. I am glad no one else was injured, it could have been a lot worse for everyone involved, so please don't think that I am being bitter in anyway. Everyone deals with trauma and shock in a different way, and I have no idea what the other people were thinking, but at the time it felt like no one cared what had just happened.

FOR REFERENCE, WE WERE WHERE THE BUS IS BEFORE THE ACCIDENT, AND THE RED CAR WAS FACING US.

A FEW HOURS AFTER THE ACCIDENT

We were taken to the nearest hospital by ambulance to have my facial injury looked at. I didn't think I had any whiplash at the time, mostly because the adrenaline had kicked in and I couldn't feel any pain. I don't know if I had been given any medication or anything to help with pain. It didn't take us long to be seen at the hospital and discharged. They told me my face injury was superficial so would scab over and heal by itself.  As we no longer had the car, and my partner didn't have any injuries we decided to take the bus back to the house. This turned out to be a mistake due to the following experience I had. Please note that this exchange took place just hours after the crash.

A young boy who must have been about two was looking at us and pointing to my face. I could understand this as half my face was swollen and my lip was massive. I didn't mind this one bit as children are curious. The interaction I had a problem with came from the adult who was with him, who kindly came out with, "What's wrong with your face?". I was speechless. I didn't expect someone to just come out with a statement like that. I knew that it was going to take months for the wound to be gone completely, and within hours I was getting comments like this. I mumbled about the accident and continued with me day, but from then on I was very conscious about how I looked, and thought people were looking at my face constantly. It's where the first signs of my anxiety started.


A FEW WEEKS AFTER THE ACCIDENT

The above photo was taken a week or so after my accident. The swelling on my face had gone down by then, and I could finally open my mouth. The burn from the airbag had scabbed over and sealed half my mouth shut, meaning it was really difficult for me to eat for around a week or so. I had managed to separate them by the time this photo was taken.

I also experienced excruciating whiplash, to the point that if I slept in one position for more than an hour, my body would lock up. Someone would have to come and move me whilst I cried in pain, and they even had to help wash me as I couldn't do it myself. I wasn't able to return to work as a Nightclub photographer as I was so conscious of my facial injury. I did start to attend my university sessions though.

A FEW MONTHS AFTER THE ACCIDENT

It wasn't until a few months after the accident when I started to get my confidence back again. I was enjoying my university course, and loved working in the dark room to develop my own prints. I was on the way to a career as a Graphic Designer and I was loving it. It all changed though around three months after the accident. I was in a night club, but hadn't been drinking and the next thing I know I was waking up in an ambulance. They told me I had had a seizure and they were taking me to the hospital for tests. I don't remember this happening. I didn't know what they were talking about. A seizure? Surely not. Maybe my drink had been spiked or I had just fainted? They ran some tests at the hospital but didn't find anything of concern so sent me home. From this moment I started having seizures frequently. Sometimes multiples times a day. I had to stop going to university, and by the time January rolled around, I was no longer attending university due to my seizures. 

By March I had moved back home and decided I would return to studying in September. I didn't really talk about my seizures with people, and I didn't really seek much help as I was so afraid what it meant. I kind of just left it and accepted that seizures were just a thing that happened. I didn't actually seek help until the following Summer, as once you've had a seizure you don't have to go to the hospital every time. I just said I would see my Doctor, but never "got round to it". 

I did return to study in the September of 2008, but found it too hard to keep up with the work as I was still having seizures at the time. I decided to leave university for good in the January of 2009 and move back home. This is when I had one of my worst seizures and ended up being admitted to hospital as I was having multiple seizures a day again. 

I was officially diagnosed with Epilepsy in January 2009 after being hospitalised for 5 days and going for tests at Kings College Hospital in London. The doctor said that this may have been caused by head trauma, but with lots of cases of Epilepsy, they can never pin point the exact cause of seizures.

THIS POST IS GETTING REALLY LONG NOW, SO I AM GOING TO LEAVE IT THERE. I THINK I HAVE COVERED THE MAIN POINTS THAT I WANTED TO ABOUT THE ACCIDENT, BUT I'M SURE I HAVE MISSED SOME DETAILS SO FEEL FREE TO ASK QUESTIONS. 

I will talk more about my experience with epilepsy in other posts, as it is something I hope to write about frequently on my blog. If you have any questions about this post, or about epilepsy in general please feel free to send me a message on my social media channels, or you can email sarah@amundanelife.co.uk and I will help you as much as possible. If there is a certain aspect of Epilepsy you would like me to cover on this blog, please also let me know.

"It was over so fast, and the music was still playing on the stereo" An accident at 19 changed @amundanesarah's life http://bit.ly/2qadzTj" - CLICK TO TWEET  

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7 comments

  1. Hi Sarah.
    I have epilepsy too. I'm 42 and was diagnosed two years ok. I must say waking up the first time was such a frightening experience. I am now following you via Bloglovin. Love the blog
    Hales xx

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  2. Bless you, I know three others who have epilepsy due to trauma. Utterly devastating and people don't understand the ripple effect it causes to everyday life and things we take for granted. A lovely piece, hope you felt better for writing it x

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  3. What a horrible experience to have - it's great that you are writing about this and raising awareness.

    http://ohduckydarling.com

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  4. This is such an awful experience, but I hope writing about this gives you some sense of peace regarding the incident and the likely cause of your epilepsy. I can't imagine how hard it must be that this has stopped you from getting through university.


    Issy | MissIsGoode

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  5. Wow, what an absolutely terrifying experience. Thank goodness nobody had any truly horrific injuries. Even if you left with absolutely no scratches, after going through something like that, a person is always entitled to feeling the affects of the trauma - it can affect everyone different. I hope writing about it helps you come to terms with everything and I really do wish you the best. <3

    whatevawears.co.uk

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  6. how awful for you, glad you have not let it take over your life totally. Thought air bags were suppose to prevent injury not cause it?
    Funnily enough when I was in an accident that wrote our car off, ( low speed, nobody hurt) I do not remember the moment of impact or the bang, but the owner of the garden fence we had demolished did hear the bang and that was why they cane out to look.

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  7. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I now very little about epilepsy but have my own conditions so understand a bit about how something like this can affect your life.

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