Brave Nia proves it's mind over matter by surviving brain injury
IT started as a bad headache at lunchtime and, before the day was out, her family was being told to say their goodbyes and prepare for the worst.
Nia O'Mara knows she is one of a very small number of people to survive a subarachnoid haemorrhage (bleed in the brain) -- and live to tell the tale.
Although she made a good recovery and was eventually able to return to work, she is one of an estimated 10,000 Irish people who acquire a brain injury each year, the so-called "silent epidemic".
She says that people who acquire a brain injury need to be given hope and to know that it is possible to lead a full life afterwards.
Nia, who designs her own bridal wear range under her 'Gra mo chroi' label, experienced what she thought was the onset of a bad migraine as she ate lunch one day in June three years ago when she was 44.
"After a while I just knew this wasn't right. My head was hurting so much I couldn't even lift it and my skin had gone all clammy and cold," she recalled.
Luckily, her partner Pat was at home at the time.
Minutes later, she was crying in pain and couldn't even walk. "The chances of me surviving it were slim, but I did. I was in hospital for about five weeks and I had to take a year off work to recover after that," she said.
Nia is still on a lot of medication and has been left with some lasting damage. The part of her brain affected controls feelings and she can sometimes get very emotional for no apparent reason.
Last night she staged a show, 'Artistry of the Mind' in Killarney's Malton Hotel to raise money for Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, which featured some performers who have also suffered a brain injury.