A MUM who found out she had a brain tumour just weeks after giving birth to her son has spoken about how it changed her life.

Charlene Wood was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, a non-cancerous tumour on the brain, weeks after giving birth in 2010.

She underwent surgery and since then has worked alongside charity Headway, with the local branch based in Dunbar.

Charlene said she was pregnant when she began to encounter a range of unusual symptoms.

She told the Courier: “It was quite an ill pregnancy and not very straight-forward at all.

“I was very off balance, my vision eventually started to go a little bit and the right side of my face was a little bit numb.

“It was all put down to the baby lying on nerves and that once I had the baby it would be fine.

“It turned out it was not very fine.

“I had very bad headaches after I had the baby, the balance was still not right and I still had problems with my vision and the numbness was still there.”

Doctors prescribed Charlene, who lives in Gifford, with different medicines in a bid to help her with her balance. However, when that failed to work, she was sent to Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital, where she was diagnosed with the non-cancerous tumour on the brain.

She underwent surgery with an access device fitted to measure pressure on the brain on Christmas Eve – little over four weeks after giving birth to son DJ.

Since the operation, she has been left with lasting effects of the brain injury, including difficulties with fine and gross motor control, as well as partial loss of hearing.

Following the operation, Charlene had reconstructive surgery to her face and is very self-conscious about how she looks.

She said: “There are a lot of things that maybe I cannot do or can do them but maybe in a different way and not the same way that I used to do them.

“With the right side being that bit weaker, I use my left hand for a lot more things, like brushing my teeth or brushing my hair.

“Things like that, I was right-handed prior to that.”

Charlene, who works as a support worker at Herdmanflat Hospital in Haddington, was put in touch with Headway, which works to improve life after brain injury.

The 42-year-old, who also has a son called Kyle, said she had been able to take DJ along to various groups within Headway and he had grown up around them.

She said: “We do a lot of quizzes and things like that to keep the brain and mind active.

“We do art, all different sorts from drawings and painting to working with stone and clay, which is quite therapeutic.

“I won a competition last year with the art for Digby Brown’s calendar. We entered the competition for the Digby Brown calendar and my picture got on the front cover.

“You think you maybe cannot do something but put your mind to it and it is a really great piece of work.”

Charlene was speaking ahead of a special event at Tulliallan Castle, near Alloa.

Best Relaxation and Activity Weekend (BRAW) takes place from September 20 to 22 and provides an opportunity for attendees to participate in a range of activities that they may not have had the chance to do following their brain injury – from holistic therapies to team building exercises.

Charlene added: “BRAW provides me with an opportunity to learn new skills and make friends.

“This will be my third time coming now and each year I enjoy it more and more.

“The active weekends keep everyone amused and there’s always plenty to do. Some of the activities I’d never had the chance to do before, but BRAW made it possible.”