Q1: Has your life been touched by a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Q2: How have you been touched by a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Q3: Summary – the cause – the injury – today’s quality of life?
On December 2, 2014 I was walking my dog for our nightly walk and as I was crossing the street IN the crosswalk a car did not stop and hit me as well as my dog. She was 2 years old, a black pure bred German Shepherd and did not survive. I was left unconscious and rushed to the ICU. The next thing I remember clearly is waking up on December 23 in a rehabilitation hospital. I had difficulties swallowing, sustaining attention, staying alert/awake and I was in a wheel chair for 90% of the day. I do not have any memory from December 2-23. I stayed as an inpatient in this hospital until January 9. I was teaching Kindergarten at the time and it was recommended, by my neurologist, that I leave work for at least 1 year. I attended outpatient rehab for another 2 months or so. I then began Cognitive Therapy, which was not covered by insurance and cost me a pretty penny. I am in the midst of deciding whether to continue at this particular cognitive therapy center or move to another one. My fiance and I got engaged 3 weeks before I was hit by the car and we are planning our wedding for June 2016. We just recently moved away from the town where the accident was and we are feeling very positive about this decision. Today’s quality of life? I don’t know yet what my “new” life will become, so, I don’t know what to say about my life today. However, I do count my blessings, so I still have my wonderful fiance by my side, I can walk again and I have no physical evidence of the accident. Mentally and emotionally? I can’t comment on how that feels today because it changes frequently and it’s not so positive all the time.
Q4: Please share your experience at the time you became aware of the injury?
The first question I remember asking was “where’s Becca?” My dog. It was explained to me (probably for the second or third time) that we were both in an accident and she didn’t make it. If there was a bigger word than confused, that’s what I was. It’s really difficult to share my experience at the time I became aware of the injury because, to be honest, I can’t really mark the day I became fully aware. I remember Thanksgiving, then December 23…but I don’t know if on December 23 I became truly aware of the injury. I think I’m still in the process of becoming truly aware of my injury. It hasn’t been a year yet. I lost my mother to a brain tumor in 2008, 8 months before my college graduation. I thought that was my biggest hurdle in life. Until now.
Q5: Tell about the experience immediately after the injury. Surgery? Coma?
I was in a coma for maybe a week. No memory or full awareness until 21 days after the accident. No surgery. (the silver lining)
Q6: Tell us about the hospital stay after the survivor was no longer in a coma
I stayed in the ICU at Westchester Medical Center for 10 days or so, then went to a rehabilitation hospital for the remaining time. I managed to climb out of my bed while at the rehabilitation hospital, thinking I could walk, and fell on the ground and was rushed again to the ICU. I have no memory of this event. I attended Speech, Occupational and Physical therapy at this hospital. I wasn’t allowed to walk on my own, I needed to be pushed in a wheelchair for my entire stay at the rehabilitation hospital. I was one of the youngest patients there, I am 28. A majority of the patients were over the age of 50.
Q7: Tell us about the time in rehabilitation?
It was a reality check. If rehabilitation doesn’t cause awareness of an injury then I don’t know what does. It felt like long days, no privacy, interaction with people of various ages, history, backgrounds. If I knew what jail felt like, I would say it felt like jail. It did feel like jail, but I don’t know what jail feels like.
Q8: Tell us about coming home!
Coming home was also a true reality check. No more doggie to greet me at the door. It was confusing, discombobulating, overwhelming and sad.
Q9: “Please type some single words that describe how TBI has touched your life. For example: Frightened, confused, sad, etc. Enter as many or as few words as you like. Separate each word with a comma”
Confusion, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, isolation, fear, lack of motivation, empathy.
Q10: What year did the injury happen?
Q11: Tell us about life today?
Life today is still a work in progress. Life today needs to be organized. Life today is OK.
Q12: What do you want to tell others going through the same process? Treatments, understandings and actions that made a difference?
Having supportive people by my side on a daily basis makes the biggest difference. Knowing I can bounce my confused, emotional, depressive thoughts off of someone without them judging me is a true fortune. It is difficult to offer advice or encouragement because I think I still need some of that myself. Just don’t give up. As much as it seems that giving up is the best option, it’s not. If one way doesn’t work, try a different way. If your therapist is making you feel inept, more emotionally unstable, or weak they’re not the right clinician for you. You hire the help, you can fire the help. You are in control of your recovery, your rehabilitation. Be the best friend, be the supportive friend that you need. When you feel like you’re in the midst of information overload, let it be. Stop. Sit down. Take a deep breath. Get up when you’re ready to go again and let it be.
Q14: This information will be used to provide hope for others touched by TBI. Please indicate your permission to post your story on our blog and web site? Your name or email address will not be used with the posting.
Yes, you have permission to post my input