What loss or trauma would you like to share a story about?
5 years ago I had a stroke which left me with a brain injury. I am very happy that I’m still here and that I don't have any ‘visible’ damage. But this also often makes things difficult because I overestimate myself frequently as do my friends and family, and I often have a relapse. I am still grieving my ‘living loss’ especially the loss of my old energetic self.
How did you handle it at the time? What did it mean for you?
Complete denial 😅 I’ve always been a workaholic. Even when I had my stroke suddenly in my hairdressing salon, I carried on ‘calmly’ finishing off some clients, balancing the till and clearing up before going to the hospital.
After my 10-day hospital stay, I stayed at home for another 2 weeks and then jumped straight back in... until I crashed fully one and a half years later and couldn't do a thing anymore. My brain had paralysed me completely. All I could do was lie flat, I had immense muscle pain and migraines lasting 14 hours a day.
Where do you stand in life today?
It has now been almost 3 years since my big crash. I have received a lot of neuro education from my neuropsychologist so I understand what the impact is on my life better. I still have neuro stimulation every 6 weeks (instead of 2 times a week at the start) where they put some electricity on my head to make me slightly more in balance (my injury is in the left frontal lobe) and I get fewer migraines.
I have had to decide to work only behind the scenes in my salon, since my health doesn't allow that sort of over-stimulation. Luckily, I have a solid team of strong women behind me, who follow my vision and creativity. And I am trying to make myself accept that it is what it is.
Are there issues related to this event that you are grateful for today?
Through this experience, the bond with my husband Nelis has only grown stronger. We are still High School sweethearts after being together for 25 years. And for the last five of those he has had to take on a second job as a carer, without even being asked.
Before, I was almost never home, always at work, going abroad for a collection or training, I had a busy social life... a pace of life that was often too fast for him. Now, I'm always at home so we have a lot more time for each other (even though I’m often not really able to do much). Living with an ABI (Acquired Brain Injury) is like being in lockdown your whole life. And if I could choose? I prefer to be with my man and my mini zoo.
Which woman do you look up to?
To every woman who does her own thing! Who doesn't let herself be led by what other people say and is purely driven by her individuality and creativity. In short, women with ambition! Whether it is your dream to build your own business from scratch, to work for the underprivileged, or others that need it, or to run a household full of kids. It doesn't matter! As long as you do what makes you happy.