By Jess Grieveson-Smith
A former ICU nurse now requires 24/7 care after suffering a life changing head injury leaving her wheelchair bound from slipping on a BATH MAT.
Candice Ridley, 42, says her independence was stripped away instantly after she slipped on the non-slip bath mat whilst getting into the tub at her home in Nottingham.
She has been left with severe and limiting disabilities, short term memory loss and is confined to a wheelchair after hitting her head so hard that she thought the noise she heard as she fell was the WALL breaking – not realising it was actually her head.
The former nurse, who lives alone, shouted out for help as she lay paralysed in the bath – and eventually managed to reach for her phone.
Despite spending only four days in hospital, the aftermath of her injury has meant that her recovery is unlikely to improve any further.
Candice, who is now unable to work, said: “I remember that I was standing half way into the bath, getting into the shower, and I heard an almighty bang.
“I’d had a long day at work, and I’d cleaned my entire flat – I had work the next day, and was needing to get showered and ready for bed.
“I looked behind me, fully expecting to see the wall cracked, or the bath completely broken.
“I disconnected myself from it – I couldn’t imagine that loud noise had been me falling, much less my head hitting something.
“I lay in the bath, willing myself to move, but everything had fallen hazy, and I felt numb – I was telling myself, I had to stay awake.
“As a nurse, I knew the risks and I remember thinking that I would make things worse if I fell asleep.
“Eventually able to get to my bedroom, I tried to do my usual nursing head injury assessment, like I would with a patient – I told myself I was OK as I was walking and talking.
“But then some fluid starting leaking from my nose and the one side of my face went numb.
“My left leg and arm were not working much and I started acting like I was drunk.
“I then realised I needed help and I need it quickly.
By the time Candice arrived at Queens Medical Centre, she had begun to lose feeling in her leg, and suffered a seizure.
She added, “The pressure just kept building and building in my head.
“The only way I could describe it was like a football was being pumped up inside my head.
“Before my brain injury, I was completely self-reliant.”
“I lived alone and had a busy working schedule – I was loving my life and was very capable on my own.
“Now, I can’t do anything without needing help, or someone watching me.
“I’ve gone from being a nurse and studying psychology at degree level, to not being able to complete a simple form without help.”
“I can be in the middle of the high street and suddenly I’ll have no idea how I got there or where I’m going – it can be something as simple as going to Boots.
“It’s mainly short term memory, where I forget what I’m trying to say, or the words just won’t come out.
“I’d been new to the area and the only friends I’d had were my work colleagues, but after the accident,with the limiting disabilities, memory loss and struggling to communicate, I became completely isolated.”
Candice has been supported by charity Headway Nottingham, who specialise in long term health and social rehabilitation, offering guidance and support to those who have suffered brain injuries like Candice.
Candice added, “It’s so frustrating because I want to be independent again but the fatigue I experience because of the brain injury just acts as a constant barrier.
“I can occasionally stand, for very short periods of time but everything I do requires a massive amount of effort.
“It’s like I’m fighting with my own mind at times.
“My future is now day to day, minute to minute, hour to hour.
“As my condition hasn’t improved, I feel like I’m stuck with no way forward – I take everything as it comes, and I’m always determined to do what I can.
“Headway Nottingham have been the biggest support and I’m forever grateful to them”
Charlotte Leask, Services Manager at Headway Nottingham said, “Candice has come such a long way since sustaining her injury.
“When someone has a brain injury without warning, that they could never have seen coming, the process of coming to terms with the long term disabilities they are suddenly facing can take years or even a lifetime.
“Candice has shown that with the right support, people with profound disabilities can achieve and make a positive difference to their lives and others.
“Every 90 seconds someone in the UK is admitted to hospital with an acquired brain injury, and we’re so grateful that she’s willing to share her story with others.
“People struggling with the effects of brain injury need to know that they are not alone and there is help available.”