Belfast Telegraph

Summer graduations: Derry woman Stephanie Burton now a first class nurse after recovery from brain trauma

By Rebecca Black

Today will see a graduation at Queen's University that nurse Stephanie Burton never thought would happen.

The Londonderry woman was left with a brain injury after being attacked during a holiday in Spain two years ago.

Stephanie had been walking along the strip in Salou with her friends on a night out when she was punched so hard in the face that she fell back and hit her head.

"That caused the head injury," she said. "It was just bad timing and bad luck. I didn't really think much of it and I didn't want to make a big drama out of it."

Queen's University Graduations July 4, 2017 - Full list of results

Stephanie said she covered up her bruised face with make-up, not even telling her parents what had happened.

Upon returning to Belfast, she carried on as normal, putting her migraines and tiredness down to exam stress.

Noticing that Stephanie wasn't her usual self, falling asleep in lectures and being forgetful, her lecturer Maggie Bennett advised her to consult a doctor.

Stephanie was transferred to hospital for an MRI scan that revealed she had suffered a head injury as a result of the assault.

"I was shocked when I was told I needed to attend brain injury rehabilitation. I would've carried on as normal if Maggie hadn't suggested I visit a doctor," she said. "I think nurses make terrible patients, you're always looking after people and put yourself last.

"The migraines were horrific, I had a migraine that lasted from April to December and they couldn't get rid of it at all."

At first Stephanie struggled with the diagnosis, overwhelmed by the journey of recovery that lay ahead. After a gruelling six months spent between various hospital and rehabilitation appointments, she was able to return to her studies.

"It was a lot easier than I thought, thanks to the support I received from fellow students and staff. The disability services and nursing staff helped me massively. It is thanks to this support that I am now graduating with a first class honours," she said.

Stephanie works in the emergency department of the Altnagelvin Hospital in her native Derry.

"It is really fast-paced and busy, which is what I prefer. If it is not constant I find myself getting more tired, so I am better being super busy," she added.

"I will be coming back to Queen's in September to do a Masters in advanced professional practice."

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