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21 Aug Deb

I am increasingly in awe of my dear friend Theresa.

Today I went to see preparations on C2 the Neurological Rehabilitation Ward at Salford Royal Hospital for her famous summer beach party .

I don’t know how she does it.

Not the Beach Party because that’s something she’s perfecting without any help from anyone and I know her methods for engaging people and their supporters living with brain injury will one day be taken on board by the NHS and rolled out as the approach to patient cooperation in rehabilitative care.

It’s the walking onto C2 that I can’t believe she manages with such apparent ease. Josh never got to C2 – a story for another day – but her son Niall was there for 4 months and it must have been the worst 4 months of her life… after the 6 worst months of her life when he was in his coma. I went through the doors and immediately felt sick. The smell, the noise, the sense of fear and panic overwhelmed me and as we approached the actual unit I was shaking.

Walking past the rooms, the wards, the closed doors – especially the closed doors – brought it all back. It was only my friend Theresa with her happy smiling face and cheery greetings for people that gave me the strength to put one foot in front of the other.

Like I said I don’t know how she does it. Maybe it’s because she’s further down the long hard road than me. Maybe it’s that her way of coping is to help others. I think it’s the latter. She’s a natural and people love her for it. Staff are pleased to see her, she’s one of the team and families… well she’s one of them.

Today I was back in the world of the rabbits in headlamps. By the time we left I was sharing the wide eyed fear filled stare of the parents, lovers and friends sitting by beds and drinking nasty coffee from plastic cups. I felt that horrible tightness around my throat and the cold chill of uncertainty.

I thought I’d got used to seeing broken bodies and trapped minds. I thought I was coping. I realised that I’m not. Not yet.

Which is why when my dear friend put her arms around me I knew why her voluntary work is so appreciated and needed by the staff, patients and their supporters on C2. My friend cares. She really cares.

And that’s how she does it.