A cyclist hit by a car in West Lothian woke up from a coma with no memory of her husband and children.
Emma Feesey did not know she was married to husband Colin and had no recollection of her two daughters – Rosa, 26, and Zora, 24 – after being struck at Deans Roundabout in Livingston.
The 48-year-old was also unable to work her mobile phone following the incident.
Ms Feesey said: “Colin was really worried – firstly to think I died and then to realise I had no memory of him and the girls.
“Then, when I remembered my husband and my daughters, I wanted them there all the time.
“I’d think: ‘I love Colin. Colin should be here. I want to see Colin.’ There is a simplicity to your thoughts when going through trauma.
“I felt physically OK and I only knew I had a brain injury because people kept telling me I had one.”
Ms Feesey, from Edinburgh, was cycling home from her work as a criminal justice social worker when a car struck her.
Although wearing a helmet, she sustained a subarachnoid haemorrhage and a midline shift after her head struck the ground.
Ms Feesey was treated at the city’s Western General for three days before being moved to the Astley Ainslie Hospital, which specialises in serious injuries.
She felt good upon awakening from a coma but she knew things were not right.
She said: “I was asked if I was married and I didn’t know. I was asked if I had children and again had no idea.
“Everything was very slow and detached. I remember finding a ‘communication device’ near my bed. I now know it was my phone but at the time it was just a thing I thought would help me document things.
‘I was most frustrated when I was asked to draw a clock and a giraffe.’Emma Feesey
“It took me ages to type anything – I just kept taking photos of my own face – and when I did finally manage I unknowingly posted it to Facebook, which caused a commotion.
“But I was most frustrated when I was asked to draw a clock and a giraffe.
“With the clock I drew the number one, put in a few other numbers and drew a shape around them and with the giraffe I drew it like a horse with a long neck – but the hospital wasn’t satisfied.
“It was about three weeks for everything to click into place. The constant questions and tasks are exhausting but they are obviously part of the process to get your brain working and I’m thankful to have come through things.”
Ms Feesey’s memory gradually returned over the coming weeks and she now hopes that sharing her journey will help other brain injury survivors embrace their new way of life.
She said: “The important thing is survivors know that no matter how strange or hard things seem, life gets better.”
Ms Feesey is now retired on medical grounds but hosts a yoga class and is focused on bringing positivity to her life and the lives of others.
She has even been able to return to cycling after overcoming PTSD-related flashbacks.
“I’ve learned through all this – especially during the pandemic – that what matters is being happy, healthy and doing good things,” she said.
“I look after myself and focus on my yoga and other workshops and I still cycle when I can.
“The hardest part is simply adjusting to a new life. Getting to know and embrace your new trajectory is something an acquired brain injury survivor will at some point have to deal with.
“But this is me and I have a nice life. I’m generally – and genuinely – happy in my world.
“If I could offer any advice to anyone it’s to not caveat yourself or apologise for what you’ve survived and experienced. Caveats might help others but not yourself.
“Brain injury survivors shouldn’t need to caveat themselves so the key is to help people understand everyone is different and has different things going on in their lives.”
The driver who struck Ms Feesey was not prosecuted as the Crown Office did not pursue the case.
Chris Stewart, partner at Digby Brown and host of the firm’s head injury information day event, said: “I have great respect for Emma’s strength in talking about her journey.
“We help people like Emma and her family every day so we know it matters that other survivors have inspiration to draw on as they continue with their own recovery.”