It was a September morning that started like any other for Dromore nurse May Elliott but after dropping her children off with the childminder, May’s world would change forever.
Just moments later she was involved in a serious car accident on the A1 dual carriageway and has spent the last two years rebuilding her life.
On Saturday night she held a fundraiser at Dromore Rugby Club lifting £1,266 in aid of the Brain Injury Unit at Musgrave Park Hospital, to whom she feels indebted.
“They do such a brilliant job” said May.
“I’m just so relieved to be here today and to be as good as I am, so I want to do as much as I can for them.”
May’s ordeal started when she lost consciousness at the wheel, the car veering from the fast lane to the hard shoulder where it hit a tree before ending up in a ditch.
May said: “the fire crews were the first on the scene and when they saw the state of the car they didn’t think there was anyone alive in it. I have no memory of any of this though.
“I had planned to take my son Andrew with me in the car to school that morning, but because there were a few new first years going to school on the bus the headmaster had specifically asked if Andrew would go on the bus with them that day, to look after them.”
In hospital May was diagnosed with a brain injury.
“Before this I didn’t know anything about Musgrave brain injury unit or what it did” said May “but I’m so grateful to them.
“I wanted to give something back to them and I wanted people to be aware there is a brain injury unit and what they do.
“They look after people with major brain injuries and people with strokes, so many of whom are only in their late 40’s or early 50’s.
“They look after everything, and think of your whole wellbeing offering counselling, intensive treatment, physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and neurological psychology.
“They never took away my hope,” May said.
“I remember when I still couldn’t walk looking across the ward at a wee lady’s rollator and thinking - ‘if I could just get my hands on that I would be away’ and the nurses always encouraged me”.
“I was also determined to go back to work and they never told me I wouldn’t - their attitude was to let you find out for yourself.
It was 10 months after the accident I saw for myself how hard concentration was and that my ability to process information wasn’t good, but they let me find that out for myself.
“It was then I realised for myself I would never go back. I still miss the company in Lagan Valley day procedure clinic where I worked.”
May said “I can’t thank people enough and my friend’s help has been fantastic.”