It was February half term, and we were all enjoying a family holiday at our regular caravan park.
We’d done the usual swimming and going to the beach, but the kids were all excited about a new activity we’d booked onto. Something different. Football Zorbing.
My daughter Lily-Mae has sensory needs and had enough of being in the ball. She started playing at the side of the activity area.
A zorb ball bumped into her, knocking her face-first to the ground. Her tiny seven-year-old skull hit the rock hard floor.
It happened so fast. It was a freak accident.
We were close to the nearby hospital so drove straight there. When we arrived, they scooped her out of my arms and soon 20 to 30 people were around her.
I was terrified. It didn’t seem real. It felt like I was watching what was happening from a distance.
She’d broken 15 bones in her skull. Nine major breaks. Both her eye sockets, her eyebrows, the bone between the top of her nose to her ear, the roof of her mouth - all broken.
She had a brain injury.
They put her to sleep. But she’d occasionally wake up. Frightened and scared, she’d grab the tubes. Tears running down her face. It was awful. As a parent you never imagine anything like this happening.
The hospital staff were amazing and did their best but said they couldn’t meet her needs.
She was rushed to Leeds Major Trauma Centre. I went with her in the ambulance while her dad followed by car. Grandparents collected Lily-Mae’s brother Elliott who was 11. But all our belongings were left at the holiday park.
When we arrived at Leeds General Infirmary, the staff were again fab and kicked into action. She soon had new tubes and monitors. They kept her in ICU overnight. We couldn’t stay with her. It was heartbreaking. I didn’t want to leave my baby girl.
Fortunately, the hospital provided us with a room. It had a bed, but we didn’t sleep. We rested. Poised with our phones by our side, waiting to be told we could see her again.
She stayed in hospital for a week. Badly bruised, with ‘Panda eyes’, and some fluid had leaked from the brain. Her brain injury isn’t severe, but we’ve noticed her behaviours have changed. She gets upset. She’s not as confident as she used to be.
While we were on the ward, we met two young boys who’d been injured in a car crash. They told us about Day One Trauma Support and how they could help us.
When I spoke to Day One Caseworker Marianne, it was such a relief. I’ve suffered from anxiety for most of my life and felt like I needed support. She was there for us. She was there for me. Someone to talk to and provide advice. She was amazing.
Even when we left hospital she was there to help with appointments and follow-up calls when we struggled to get hold of the right people. She knew what to do. I had to leave my job to spend more time looking after Lily-Mae. Day One gave me financial advice about grants and benefits to help take the pressure off. We couldn’t have done it on our own.
That’s why Lily-Mae was inspired to fundraise for Day One and give back. She wanted to do something to say thank you to all the incredible care and support we got as a family.
The family has set up a fundraising page at www.gofundme.com/f/trauma-from-day-one