Back in 2015, my eldest daughter, Kira, was really into her horse riding. Training for 4-5 hours a day, she lived, breathed and existed all things horsey.

Then she was thrown from two different horses in the space of three weeks, each time landing on the same side of her head.

I’m from a horsey background and my own experience in this was, just have a couple of days rest then get back on the horse, you’ll be fine.

Only she didn’t get better.

The “couple of days rest” turned into a week, then two weeks, then several months, and still she showed little improvement. She couldn’t read, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t go on the computer or watch TV. She could hardly stand up half the time.

The GPs and teachers at school thought she was either suffering from the usual teenage angst or (more likely as far as the teachers were concerned) she was just trying to get out of doing any work at school.

Finally, we got to see a sports concussion specialist at the Children’s Hospital 600km away who, to my immeasurable relief, confirmed that she did indeed have a Traumatic Brain Injury.

At the time, we all believed that her brain would heal itself. It was going to take some effort on Kira’s part, but if she put in the work, she should be fine.

It turns out that isn’t the case.

Lately, Kira’s come to the conclusion that the damage – particularly the damage to her memory – is permanent.

Although I obviously knew most of what was going on in that initial few years after her injury, a lot of things came to light during this conversation that I wasn’t aware of till now.

Find out:
  💫💫 Why Kira was sent home from emergency after a 3 minute exam with the doctor
  💫💫 The difficulties we faced in trying to convince doctors that she was actually sick
  💫💫 How brain injuries aren’t taken seriously or even believed
  💫💫 The ongoing problems caused by her injuries
  💫💫 The issues that can be caused by short term memory loss
  💫💫 The emotional impact of long term memory loss and being unable to join in when your family or friends are talking about an event because you have no memory of it
💫💫 The prognosis for the future
 
This was a difficult conversation for me, as well as Kira, but there’s also a lot of hope here. This is something that needs to be taken much more seriously by both the medical profession and people in general.
 
Just because you’ve not got your leg in plaster or your head wrapped in bandages, doesn’t mean you’re fine.
 
Concussions (Traumatic Brain Injuries) are a hidden injury, which makes them all the more serious.

The first of the two “assisted dismounts”

Today's Guest: Kira O'Connor

Menopause, Marriage and Motherhood

Kira O’Connor is a final year Photography Degree student, specialising in Fine Art Photography.

For as long as she can recall, Kira had a fascination and love for horses. At the age of 4, she began partaking in equine lessons, and before long found herself working towards her dream of competing at an Olympic level.

By the age of 9, Kira was already preparing for the day that she could dedicate every waking hour to her horse riding; and so began the journey of convincing her parents to let her attend an equine boarding school.

A year later, Kira found herself flying six hours to the other side of the country to attend New England Girls School.

For the next five years she was living her dream, living on an equine based campus and riding up to five hours per day on top of her studies.

On June 27th 2015, Kira was thrown from her favourite horse and the resulting head injury has – and will continue to be – a challenging road to recovery. However, since she was unable to either ride or attend school, Kira developed a passion for fine art photography.

Now in her third and final year of her Bachelor of Photography, Kira is currently in the process of creating a series discussing the realities of brain injuries and amnesia.

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