My name is Aoibheann Magee and I sustained my brain injury in March 2016....this is my story....

On the 24th March 2016 my life changed forever.  I was in the final year of my degree studying Equestrian Management at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise, Enniskillen, with only a few months to my graduation, when I was involved in a road traffic accident.  I was travelling with friends in Kildare when the accident happened.   I don't remember much from the time of the accident but I know that as a result I spent 10 days in the ICU at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin and then a further 6 weeks in the ICU at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast; from there I was transferred to the Regional Acquired Brain Injury Unit (RABIU) at Musgrave Park Hospital, Belfast, where I spent approximately 3 months as an inpatient and a further 4 months attending rehabilitation appointments (Physiotherapy/Psychologist/Occupational Therapy/Speech and Language Therapy).

When I was in RABIU as an inpatient I had to relearn many things I had always taken for granted before my accident including learning how to swallow, stand, walk and dress myself again.  At the same time I was coming to terms with the loss of my independence and not being able to do things for myself.  This had a massive impact on my life and I struggled to come to terms with everything that had happened to me.  I felt very alone and isolated from everyone who was close to me and because of my injury my memory was severely affected and I forgotten a number of things that had happened to me previous to my injury, including splitting up with my boyfriend.

Horse riding has always been a major part of my life and I began when I was only 6 years old, spending weekends and summer holidays at the equestrian centre.  When I had my accident I was worried that I would never be able to horse ride again or work with horses, but I'm currently volunteering at the RDA at Knockbracken, helping children and young people with a wide range of disabilities to horse ride, interact with their peers, develop confidence and most importantly have fun!

In August 2016 I got involved with Brain Injury Matters and it was exactly what I needed.  I have attended the Younger Person's Network, the Links Programme, the Young Adult Wellbeing Programme and Sports 4 U.  I have achieved many things I never thought I'd be able to, including abseiling down Belfast Castle; I'm not even sure I would've done that before my brain injury!

I have made some lifelong friends at Brain Injury Matters and know that I always have someone to turn to when I'm having a tough day.  I still have issues with my mobility as I have weakness down the left side of my body which affects my ability to walk/exercise.  Even now my fatigue hits me out of the nowhere and I get tired so easily which reduces my ability to hold down a job.  I have trouble concentrating on my college work as I'm trying to finish off my degree and I can get very frustrated and irritable at times.

I am not the same person I was prior the accident; I definitely talk a lot more than I used to - so my family tell me anyway!  Every day is a challenge but I'm taking it one day at a time and like any other young adult I have hopes and dreams for the future that I will strive to achieve.  I won't let my brain injury define who I am or stop me accomplishing my goals.