Tamsyn Berry kindly shared her story with us in a previous edition of Beeline. After suffering life-changing injuries in a road traffic incident, she provides us with a wonderful update, for which we are very grateful.

Tamsyn's story, two years on...

When Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance asked if I would like to give an update on my progress, I struggled to remember everything that has happened over the past two years, but that’s brain injuries for you! Luckily, I have developed lots of strategies to help me remember and record things. Going through it all is sort of fascinating; a bit like watching a documentary about someone else.

After being discharged from hospital in April 2020, I lived with my cousin and then my sister for about 18 months. They provided all my care, as finding outside care was impossible during COVID. I feel very blessed to have such a wonderful family.

By August 2021, I was ready to live on my own again, so I moved to a flat and employed a carer. It’s hard needing a carer as I was very independent before; I lived off-grid in a yurt in the woods for five years, but I think my wood chopping days are over.

Returning to work and gigging

Tamsyn at a music Gig

I had worked for a fantastic charity for many years. When I returned to work, I had to go from being fulltime, to working about 10 hours a week as it was too challenging, both physically and mentally. My brain injury causes me to get words muddled, makes me tire quickly and affects my spelling and cognition. I’ve got an adapted desk and computer set-up, enabling me to work from home. I have a keyboard that’s split in two; the right half is on the desk and a friend made an adapted holder so the other half is suspended under the desk, which is the only place my left hand can reach it. Did I mention how lucky I am to have such wonderful friends and family?

Before my accident, I was in a few bands and used to gig regularly. It took a while to get my singing voice back, but last year we ended up doing about 80 gigs! I couldn’t play guitar anymore as my left arm was disabled, but as long as I could still sing, I was thankful. I donated the money from some of the gigs to Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and we hope to be able to play at a fundraising event for them soon.

Road to recovery

Throughout my recovery, there were lots of consultations with specialists about my left arm. Excess bone had formed over the site of the break, fixing the arm in one position, meaning there was no pronation and no bend at the elbow. I also have nerve damage, so I can’t feel most of my hand. I had hoped that it could be operated on so that I would get some movement and/or sensation back, but was told that this was too risky, so I have put that to bed.

The scars and skin grafts on my arms made me really self-conscious, particularly when I was gigging. However, in 2022, I decided to try and get people used to seeing them and stopped covering them up. I became like a sort of scar advocate and it was really refreshing when people asked about them. It’s not that I wanted attention, I just wanted it to be ok to have them and not feel I should have to conceal them to spare other people’s feelings.

After my case had gone to court, I asked if I could meet the driver of the other vehicle, as I could imagine how dreadful they must have felt, knowing that a momentary mistake had caused so much devastation. After some deliberation, it was agreed. We shook hands and I asked if he was ok. He seemed a little stunned by that, but obviously relieved. We chatted for about 10 minutes – it was really good to meet him and to assure him I wasn’t angry or bitter. For me, forgiveness has been an essential part of my healing process and it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders… I hope he felt the same.

Support from patient and family liaison nurses

My relationship with Jo Petheram, one of DSAA’s patient and family liaison nurses, has been so very special. She has kept in touch with me ever since my incident and in November 2022, Jo arranged for my brother, sister and I to visit the team at Henstridge airbase. It was such an honour to meet everyone, especially Dave Martin; the doctor who attended and worked miracles to save my life on that fateful day.

tamsym past patient with dorset and somerset air ambulance crew

It really is incredible to think there are such wonderful human beings amongst us, that do this life-saving work. For the most part, they are nameless, faceless entities, who go un-thanked and unrecognised. That’s why this visit was so brilliant, as it enabled us to pay thanks and praise in person. It was a wonderful and emotional day.

After that visit, we went for another; to meet the lady that was in a car behind me, who had sat with me until the fire brigade arrived. My sister had been so upset by the thought of me being injured and alone, that she had asked if anyone had been there to help. The lady was called Deleen and she was a first-aider, so knew how to keep me conscious and calm. Meeting her was amazing!

Then in January this year, I managed to go skiing with my brother and sister-in-law (and a carer). I used to ski before, so it felt great to push myself again.

I have come to accept my physical and mental limitations, learnt not to get frustrated at times and try to turn my story into a positive one. I am so thankful for the help and support that I’ve received from my family, friends and of course the professionals who saved me – the police, the fire service, doctors, nurses and of course, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance.

If you've been inspired by Tamsyn's story and would like to help us to continue saving lives, we would be grateful to receive your donation. No matter how big or small, every penny donated really will make a big difference! Thank you.

Please select a donation amount (required)
Set up a regular payment Donate

NEXT: Bertie's Story