A woman has revealed her life has been 'completely destroyed' after she fell from a chair.
Ruth Kennard hit the back of her head after her chair collapsed in work and left her with long-term sight, memory and mobility problems, reports WalesOnline .
Ruth – who is mum to Bethan, 13 and Tomos, nine – admits she is now a "shadow" of her former self and is unable to leave her house because of her unbearable sensitivity to light and noise.
"I've just missed both of my children's birthday parties for the first time because I can't be in that environment. It's devastating as my kids are everything to me," said Ruth.
"It's a mild traumatic brain injury with major life consequences."
Her husband Chris admitted that his wife's symptoms are similar to someone in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.
"One day Ruth and I were sat on a bus, and she didn't realise I was next to her," he said.
"We will have the same conversation numerous times. She hasn't been able to drive for months."
Ruth, from Penylan, Cardiff, said she was working in a café in September 2018 when the accident took place.
"It was a proper comedy moment," recalled the 43-year-old.
"I was cashing up and I took the money into the back corner of the shop.
"I sat on the chair and I said 'God, this chair is really creaking. It sounds like it's going to…' and before I could finish my sentence the back leg broke and I went backwards.
"The café is in an old building down in the Docks, so where I fell, instead of a skirting board there was a ledge and my head hit that and my shoulders hit the ground.
"My colleague found me in a heap on the floor and helped me up. I didn't pass out and I was coherent, so I think I just put the cash away, locked up and drove home."
The following day Ruth said she got up for work as normal – but says she felt increasingly unwell.
"I started to feel really disorientated and out-of-sync. I was running a café so there are always 10 things that have to be done at the same time. I'm normally very good at that, but that day I just couldn't do it.
"By about lunchtime I called my husband and he took me home. I went to bed for about three hours, and as soon as I woke up I started vomiting."
Ruth was taken by Chris to the A&E department at the University Hospital of Wales where she was given a CT scan and oral morphine to ease her pounding headache.
Doctors carried out standard tests for a suspected concussion.
"She really struggled with them, but the CT scans were clear," said Chris.
"They said they couldn't determine whether those neurological problems were due to the morphine, so they decided to keep her in."
Doctors officially diagnosed Ruth with concussion but told her the symptoms would ease and decided to discharge her.
But she continued to experience major problems with headaches , concentration and fatigue.
"I tried to go back to work a couple of days later which was a disaster zone," Ruth said.
"We live in Penylan and I tried to drive to the Bay via Rover Way. By the time I got to Tesco on Rover Way I felt like I'd had 15 pints. That's the only way I can explain it.
"I parked my car up and Chris had to pick me up. My car was stuck there for days."
Ruth opted to visit A&E for a second time in four days where she was given medication to address the migraines she was experiencing. She was also told to go to an optician as her eyesight had started to deteriorate.
After hearing that the wait to see a specialist neuro-ophthalmologist on the Welsh NHS could take as long as three years, they decided to see someone privately.
"I believe it has something to do with the way my brain is firing after the incident," said Ruth, whose condition is described by medics as post-concussion syndrome.
Ruth said she was told in a one-off session with a physiotherapist that the muscles in her head and neck are constantly contracting .
This could be constricting the blood flow to her brain.
"The physiotherapist was, essentially, pulling my neck, and for about an hour and a half I felt normal," she said.
"But I need to be able to access this four, maybe five times a week."
Chris added: "Every second Monday they go through all the referrals [at the hospital]. They've met and gone 'that's not the type of brain injury that we would deal with'.
"The brain injuries they see are acute and often involve things like car accidents or strokes."
Ruth added: "When you are sick you expect to get help.
"Having that glimmer of hope that it could be fixed and then still not getting anywhere is heartbreaking."
In response, a spokesman for Cardiff and Vale UHB said: "Rookwood provides both a specialist rehabilitation service for patients with severe traumatic brain injuries and a community based service for patients with less severe traumatic brain injuries.
"We cannot comment on individual cases, but we would welcome Ms Kennard to contact our Concerns Team if she wishes to discuss her concerns further."
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