June 4, 2013 was a bittersweet day for me. I was wrapping up the final class of my spring session at the therapeutic riding center where I taught each week. I was so proud of my girls and their progress – they had been working so hard for months – and now we were on the cusp of summer break.
I was putting away a cavalletti (basically a raised pole on a ground) and turned to say something to one of my riders. And just like that, everything changed.
I awoke in the ICU after surgery to remove a portion of my skull.
I was told that I had suffered a depressed skull fracture due to a kick from a horse. I studied traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in grad school, but I never thought I would have one.
The world was terrifying – I could hear, see, and could understand people but was unable to speak. I had woken up to a surreal nightmare.
I was told I had aphasia and verbal apraxia in conjunction with my TBI.
I consider June 5, 2013 day 1 of my recovery.
Because I could not speak, I desperately tried to write. But after more than one or two words, it was a mess. Here I was – a journalism undergrad who completed her master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling and Psychology – and I could barely make sense of what I wanted to write.
I left the hospital after 8 days, a couple of inpatient speech sessions, PT and OT.
I didn’t say a word for two weeks.
Then, on June 19th, I said “no.” And it started from there – I saved that word, recorded on my phone.
As I write this – it’s been a little over a month and a half. My journey is far from complete. While my reading and writing came back relatively quickly, I am still working hard on my speech and dealing with the implications of my injury.
So what are my goals here? Why start this page? I have no intention of pretending that I am anything other than just a person. But, I am also a patient, a wife, a rider, a teacher, a certified rehabilitation counselor turned assessment specialist for a large CRO…I am all of these things.
My goal is to share what I’ve learned and what I’m learning – this can be so valuable to someone who does not have a voice of their own. And, it’s so important for families and friends to know how they can help. I hope that by sharing the most difficult thing I have worked through (and am still working on), I can help someone else to regain their own voice.
I will of course personal experiences here, but my primary focus is on how we can learn, whether it’s regarding patient advocacy, speaking in public, the highs and lows of recovery…anything. I welcome your feedback and comments!
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