Portrait: Kerry

In 2013, I suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm, like Emilia. It happened out of the blue, just 3 months after my baby was born. I had been experiencing what I would say was a very mild, dull headache for a few days. A bit like a hangover and I couldn’t shift it. 

A little bit about Kerry 

After leaving my parents house with my baby I walked home, put him to bed, took two paracetamols, went to bed myself and tried to soothe my head with a warm flannel and an early night. My son, Drew, woke me early with his baby chirps and as I woke, I was aware I still had the pain in my head. I was mainly pissed off with the fact it was still there. I stretched out and yawned and as I did, my ear popped. I had an intense shooting pain in my head.  

It didn’t subside. I just thought , this is now a migraine I’m gonna need someone to help with Drew.  

So, I called my mum. Just as Jenny did for Emilia, my mum has been by my side every second of my recovery and I always say she put on her superhero cape that day. I went downstairs, unlocked the door, and took two paracetamols again and wandered upstairs to get my flannel for my head. Mum came and by then I felt sick, so she checked on Drew. She got me a bucket just in case I was sick and came into my bedroom. I told her my head was really bad then I retched over the side of the bed and passed out.  

The diagnosis 

I was taken to hospital where they discovered it was a severe ruptured aneurysm. I had a subarachnoid haemorrhage. At first, I was left to see what would happen. Then during the night, I had another bleed. My husband who works at sea was called to come home. I couldn’t have my aneurysm coiled because of where it was so I had to have it clipped. My husband Scott was told this was the only option to save my life and even then, there was only a 30% chance I would come out alive.  

The recovery 

Now, I’m writing this so unless I am a bad ass ghost, I managed to beat those poor odds. I had a huge part of my skull removed, and the offending aneurysm was clipped. That bit of skull got chucked in the bin and I had a very unattractive half a head for over 6 months. I eventually could breathe on my own, learned how to swallow again, and eventually had to learn how to talk and walk again. My left side was left very weak. I had particularly excellent Quasimodo walk. I worked hard in hospital rehab so I could get home to my boys. As soon as I could do the stairs I got to go home. I did stairs. But home is where the hard work, frustration, fear, and challenges really began.  

No one prepares you for this part. You or your family. It’s the most scared and alone time I felt. 

Six months later I had surgery to replace the part of the skull that was removed. Terrifying! Head shaved again; scar opened again. Two weeks after surgery while I was having a bath, I suffered a seizure. This was unbelievably scary. I passed out but luckily my husband was home. He heard my splashing and lifted me out of the bath.  

Where I am now... 

I now take anti-seizure medication. I have had 9 plastic surgery operations over the past 10 years to try and restore structure. I have faced many challenges but none bigger than becoming a mum to my son. I have worked so hard to get where I am. It’s not just the physical aspect of recovery, it’s the damage inside and how it affects you as a person. “You’re back to normal now” is what some say. It’s so misunderstood by so many. So little support after leaving hospital.  

A quote that helped me during recovery 

This isn’t a known quote per se, but words that would often cross my mind: “There is nothing quite like a brain injury to take you into a world where resilience, a s**t load of patience and a bad ass spirit will have you kicking and screaming back to yourself with a strength you never realised you had”. 

My advice to other survivors 

It’s a journey that never ends but the view  gets better with time. Be kind to yourself always and for those around you who struggle with the ride you’re on that’s ok, it’s just their time to get off. Make the journey lighter for yourself with laughter and be trueDon’t spend your time proving you are better than ever because all you do is burn yourself out just to make other people feel better or comfortable. Know that even today, whether it’s a good or bad day, that showing up just as you are right in this moment wherever you are in your brain injury story that the value you bring to this world and those around you has never faltered. Take it in, take your time and do it your way. 


The journey to recovery is filled with ups and downs. Mental health can be challenged during brain injury recovery and SameYou’s mission is to work to develop better mental health recovery treatment for survivors, raise awareness and advocate for change. 


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