Londoners’ experiences of life-changing injuries

Julie and Corrie

Female

Brief outline: Wesley (Interview 03), Julie's son and Corrie's brother, sustained a traumatic brain injury when he fell off a moped on holiday in Turkey.

Background: Mother' Julie is a Senior Day Centre Officer. She is divorced and has two grown-up children, Corrie, 33, and Wesley, 30. Ethnic background' White British. Daughter' Corrie is an accountant. She is recently married. Ethnic background' White British.

Audio & video

 

Corrie was home alone when she received the phone call from Wesley’s friend to say Wesley (her brother) had been in an accident while on holiday in Turkey. She eventually managed to contact her mother, Julie, who was on holiday. Both got on the next available flight and went to the hospital. When they saw Wesley for the first time he looked like he was fast asleep and not like “images you see on Casualty or Holby City”. They were discouraged from touching him. They later found out this was because the nursing staff feared they would be “hysterical” and disturb Wesley.
 
Julie and Corrie both felt Wesley received excellent treatment in the private hospital in Turkey. He was transferred to the UK on a commercial plane, aided by a team of paramedics while still in a coma. On arrival, the plane was met by staff from the UK hospital who made “derogatory comments” about the care he might have received in Turkey, which infuriated Julie.
 
Wesley was in a coma for about four months. During this time Julie took on a great deal of Wesley’s care in the hospital, including transferring and rolling him in bed, doing his medication, connecting the tubes for his feeds, and clipping off his catheter to try and get his bladder to function again. Corrie returned to University, but came home every weekend to visit her brother. There was a lot of uncertainty at this stage because Wesley was moved to different hospitals several times without his family being consulted.
 
They worried that Wesley was not getting enough physiotherapy and his arms were contracting inwardly. Julie fought continuously to increase his physio, but was not happy with the amount he received until he went to rehabilitation hospital. Corrie explained that because of the lack of physio, Wesley has lasting nerve damage in his arm; not as “a result of the accident” but “of the aftercare”. He has lasting problems with motor skills and sometimes has difficulty shaving or cutting his food. Julie and Corrie are sensitive about this and try not to embarrass or upset him. He also has has cognitive problems but he is good at hiding these. This, coupled with recruitment staff not properly understanding brain injury, caused difficulty for Wesley when it came to finding an appropriate job.
 
Julie and Corrie are very supportive of Wesley and play key roles in his life, helping him with form filling, cooking and cleaning. He relies on Corrie “if he gets himself in a pickle”. She tries to encourage him to be more independent because even though there are “things he struggles with”, there are “things he is a lot more capable of than he makes out”.
 
As the injured person is likely to forget a lot of their hospital experience because of their brain injury, Julie advises families to take photographs of the whole process. This gives the injured relative “something tangible” to use to understand what happened to them. She says she’s really pleased she did this for Wesley. She and Corrie also would encourage relatives to question everything”; not the “professionalism” of the staff, but the care their relative is receiving.

 

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