Brain injury survivor tells of her inspiring recovery after cycling accident


Emma Feesey, 48 years-old, suffered a brain injury after being hit at a roundabout in West Lothian as she cycled home from work.

The mum-of-two woke from a coma with no memory of her husband and children – she was even unable to draw simple objects or work her mobile phone. 

Now that she’s recovered Emma, who lives in Edinburgh, hopes sharing her journey at the Head Injury Information Day in Edinburgh will help other brain injury survivors. 

She said: “The important thing is survivors know that no matter how strange or hard things seem, life gets better.”

Even though Emma was wearing a helmet at the time, she sustained a subarachnoid haemorrhage and a midline shift after her head hit the ground.

For three days, she was treated at the Western General before being transported to the Astley Ainslie Hospital which specialises in serious injuries.

But despite waking up and feeling okay, Emma knew things weren’t quite right.

Emma said:

“Someone asked where I lived - I knew the street but not the number.

“I was asked if I was married and I didn’t know. I was asked if I had children and again had no idea.”

The truth is Emma has been married to her husband Colin for 25 years – and they have two daughters Rosa, 26, and Zora, 24.

Thankfully, Emma’s memory returned over the coming weeks. 

Emma added: “Colin was really worried – firstly to think I died and then to realise I had no memory of him and the girls.

“Then when I remembered my husband and my daughters I wanted them there all the time.

“I’d think ‘I love Colin. Colin should be here. I want to see Colin.’ There is a simplicity to your thoughts when going through trauma.

“I felt physically okay and I only knew I had a brain injury because people kept telling me I had one.”

During Emma’s recovery she came across difficulties.

She was not able to sketch objects and couldn't identify her own mobile phone. 

She continued: “Everything was very slow and detached.

“I remember finding a ‘communication device’ near my bed. I now know it was my phone but at the time it was just a thing I thought would help me document things.

“It took me ages to type anything - I just kept taking photos of my own face – and when I did finally manage I unknowingly posted it to Facebook which caused a commotion.

“But I was most frustrated when I was asked to draw a clock and a giraffe.

“With the clock I drew the number one, put in a few other numbers and drew a shape around them and with the giraffe I drew it like a horse with a long neck - but the hospital wasn’t satisfied.

“It was about three weeks for everything to click into place. The constant questions and tasks are exhausting but they are obviously part of the process to get your brain working and I’m thankful to have come through things.”

Due to medical reasons, Emma is now retired but hosts a yoga class and is focused on bringing positivity to her life and others.

After overcoming PTSD flashbacks from the accident, she has even been able to return to cycling.

Emma said: “I’ve learned through all this – especially during the pandemic – that what matters is being happy, healthy and doing good things.

“I look after myself and focus on my yoga and other workshops and I still cycle when I can.

“The hardest part is simply adjusting to a new life. Getting to know and embrace your new trajectory is something an acquired brain injury survivor will at some point have to deal with.

“But this is me and I have a nice life. I’m generally – and genuinely – happy in my world.

“If I could offer any advice to anyone it’s to not caveat yourself or apologise for what you’ve survived and experienced. Caveats might help others but not yourself.

“Brain injury survivors shouldn’t need to caveat themselves so the key is to help people understand everyone is different and has different things going on in their lives.”

Chris Stewart, Partner within our Serious Injury Team and host of our Head Injury Information Days, added: “I have great respect for Emma’s strength in talking about her journey. 

“We help people like Emma and her family every day so we know it matters that other survivors have inspiration to draw on as they continue with their own recovery.”

For more information on the Head Injury Information Day and how it helps survivors of acquired brain injuries please visit Head Injury Information Days website.

Emma's story was reported across the national media including The Scottish Sun, Daily Record and STV.