Bristol

Gwenda Gage from Bristol is her brain-injured son's carer

Gwenda Gage
Image caption Gwenda Gage with a photograph of her son Steven before his brain injury

A mother who has to carry an oxygen tank to breathe has been nominated for a national award after devoting the past 24 years to her brain-injured son.

Gwenda Gage, 76, from East Harptree, near Bristol, is one of three people nominated by Headway - the brain injury association - for Carer of the Year.

Her son Steven was injured jumping from a fourth floor window to escape a fire.

"I worry who's going to care for him when something happens to me," said Mrs Gage.

Image copyright Gwenda Gage
Image caption Steven receives help from his mum Gwenda to ensure he remembers important medical appointments

The accident in 1994 was so severe that Steven was put into a coma. When he came round he had to learn to walk and talk again.

Mr Gage's brain injury has affected his emotions meaning he lacks insight on how his behaviour impacts on others.

"He gets angry and shouts so he can appear to be difficult; it's a lot to cope with," said Mrs Gage.

Image copyright Gwenda Gage
Image caption Gwenda Gage worked as a nurse in intensive care and then a nursing home when until she was 70

He also struggles to care for himself.

"I'm scared he'll start a fire at his flat...he'll leave plastic chopping boards on top of the oven and there's always something happening to him," Mrs Gage said.

Image copyright Gwenda Gage
Image caption Steven Gage has to learn to walk and talk again after his traumatic brain injury
Image copyright Gwenda Gage
Image caption Mrs Gage described her son as a "mischievous" child

Despite living 15 miles away, Mrs Gage helps her son with remembering medical appointments, dealing with the local council over housing issues, and talking with agencies to get him some support.

"He doesn't see that his injuries are affecting his life which is frustrating as he really needs help and isn't getting it," she said.

Mrs Gage was nominated by Tracey Lathrope, one of Headway Bristol's Carers Support Workers, who described her as "an inspiration" to everyone.

If she wins the award on 7 December, Mrs Gage hopes to get her son the help she knows he needs.

"It'd be nice to step back a bit, yes."

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