Londoners’ experiences of life-changing injuries

Louise

Female
Age at interview: 31

Brief outline: Louise was at a music festival in Spain when it appears she may have fallen from a pylon. She broke bones, sustained a brain injury and thirty-five percent of her body was burned. She does not remember her injury happening.

Background: Louise is a photographer. She is single and lives with flatmates. Ethnic background' Middle Eastern/English.

Audio & video

Louise cannot remember her injury. She remembers dancing at the music festival and then waking up in hospital in Spain. It seems she fell from a pylon, after being electrocuted. She sustained severe burns to thirty-five percent of her body and forty-five to fifty percent is scarred due to burns and scarring from donor tissue being removed. She also broke numerous bones in her body, including her back. She wore a back brace in hospital and had a pin put into her leg. Her mobility and balance remain problematic for her. She has difficulty carrying things whilst using stairs and also does not like to be in crowded areas. She sustained a brain injury, which affected her memory, concentration and her organisational skills, especially in the six months immediately post-injury. Apart from her burns, all Louise’s injuries were left to heal naturally. 
 
Initially, Louise was given morphine to manage the “extreme pain” from her burns, but she was weaned off this to ensure her skin did not become hypersensitive. Louise explained, “If your skin doesn’t start to experience pressure and sensation, the nerves won’t recover”. Her bandages were changed every few days and were treated with creams, including iodine cream and an antibacterial cream. In hospital staff changed the dressings. When she was discharged her parents took over, but she chose to change certain bandages because it was like “pulling off a plaster – sometimes you’d rather do it yourself”. Louise attends day surgery every couple of months to get steroid injections into her scars. This helps with the terrible itching she experienced as her skin began to heal.
 
She received physiotherapy to help her walk again and progressed from a wheelchair to a zimmer frame to a stick over two months. She is still working with a physiotherapist to improve her balance and ability to walk whilst carrying things. An occupational therapist helped her to make her home more accessible by suggesting where to install handrails. 
 
Louise “forced” herself to overcome the negative feelings she had about her body after her injury by swimming and going on beach holidays. She advises others to confront their fears' “If you continually do things in the dark, you’ll never get through it”. Her injury changed her life. Life is “about living between now and the next few months. Everything can change, so I don’t see the point in dwelling on anything too far ahead”.

 

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