In 2012, Catherine Erdal suffered a stroke and from that day onwards, her life completely changed.
Up until then Catherine had been living an extremely busy, interesting and active life.
She enjoyed writing and had published a children's story, loved her job working abroad as a teacher before going on to become a lecturer and senior manager for the NHS, and kept active through salsa dancing, water polo and much more.
This meant that her lifestyle was very busy, stressful and full-on.
But all of that came crashing down when her daughter found her lying unconscious on the floor after having a stroke.
She was rushed to hospital and placed in a coma with a 50% chance of survival - a terrifying time for her family and friends. Thankfully after six long months Catherine pulled through.
Looking back, she said:
I was filled with complete and utter joy that I had survived.
But it was to be the start of a very long, slow journey to come to terms with the effects of her brain injury and try to rebuild her life.
She said: “The help I got in rehabilitation from the Brain Injury Service was wonderful. I’ve worked hard and with great determination on strategies to help with my speech and mobility and over time I’ve seen real improvements.”
Catherine also found Headway invaluable during her recovery.
"I met a lot of friends and felt as though they understood what I was going through,” she said.
“It's through Headway that I got to spend some time at the Calvert Trust - an organisation specialising in outdoor holidays for disabled people. The time I spent in the Lake District was a wonderful and inspiring experience."
Motivated and determined, Catherine has recently lost three stone in weight, which she says has helped greatly with her mobility.
In the future she hopes that she can use her own experiences of brain injury to help others through volunteering.
I've experienced some good and bad responses to my disability. I want to help others because I know exactly what people with a brain injury have to cope with, which means it's easy for me to relate.
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