On the flip of a coin, your life can just change completely.  My daughter, Ashleigh, was just 14 when she was thrown from a horse.  She went through the operation and the time in hospital and you think that once you can get her home you can start to get on with your lives again.  But actually, the nightmare was really only just beginning.

No-one took the time to talk to us about the psychological impact on Ashleigh of her coming home.  The house wasn't ready for her when she was discharged; she couldn't get into the bathroom or up to her old room, she had no privacy, and I couldn't hear her in the night if she needed me.  I ended up getting a baby monitor and, of course, Ashleigh hated that.  Before her accident, Ashleigh was a bright, bubbly child but she came home and - and she will say this now herself - she was vile, nasty and angry at the whole world.  I guess you should realise that when someone goes through such a big trauma that it is going to affect them but, even so, it took me by surprise.  We've all had to make adjustments.

Jacqui and Ashleigh with their dog

Ashleigh was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress, anxiety and depression.  The medical care was just awful and support services simply were not available; in our county, there is no provision for teenagers with PTS and they won't refer to anyone else.  I had to get that sorted through our compensation claim but I shouldn't have had to think about it.  At the same time, Ashleigh was struggling with school and I could see the harm that was doing.  I made the decision to pull her out of school.

She was vile, nasty, and angry

I had a lot of professionals telling me that I wasn't allowed to home educate Ashleigh, that children have to go to school.  I ended up just screaming at them.  I had seen the look of relief on her face when I'd said she didn't need to go back into that school, and I could see that it had made a difference, that she was happier.  When it's your own child, you just want to protect them and I told those professionals that they could take me to court if that's what they felt they needed to do.  If it's an adult that's injured, they're not discharged from hospital on a Friday and then expected to turn up to work on the Monday, but yet Ashleigh was being pushed back into school straight away.  That wasn't right and I could see that.  Not going to school was the breathing space Ashleigh needed, it gave us time to get things sorted, and she was back in a different school with a better set up three months later.

That summer really rocked the boat.  It ended up being six absolutely horrendous months but we got through it, we sorted it and we're as close as anything now.  For me, personally, I was concentrating on Ashleigh and bottling everything up and it wasn't until much, much later that it all came out.

I feel like I had to do everything myself.  If anyone else is facing a similar situation, I'd urge them to get a bloody good social worker from day one, and have them make sure that everything is joined together and every agency knows what's going on.  That would have made things so much better.

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