Braining Forward

My personal story about the fight against myself. A daily fight yes, but a daily victory in knowing I am the survivor of a TBI(traumatic brain injury). With each day comes a new win.

Uninvited Restart

August 2, 2002.

I was nineteen. Blond hair, blue eyed, spunky, fun-loving, social, normal late- teen girl.
Two weeks prior to August 2nd, I had met a younger man. For privacy reasons, his name shall be Sam. Upon meeting Sam, he seemed charming, fun, easy going, and I loved being around him.
It was easy to be myself around this young man-easy to trust.
At nineteen, I wasn’t old enough to fully understand people can be deceiving.
One week after meeting, while at the lake with a large group of friends, Sam pulled me to the side and asked me to be his girl-I of course said yes.
One week after that, he showed up with a Honda crotch rocket. He said he got it from a friend who owed him.
On a Friday night, he asked if I wanted to go for a ride. Like any giddy girl, I excitedly said I would love to. I grabbed his backpack, a neighbors off road helmet, said bye to my best friend, and off we went.
Stopping at a nearby gas station, Sam gave me some money to give to the attendant for gas for the bike. I went in as he got ready to put gas in. When I came back out, he was doing something funny with some wires. When I asked what he was doing, he mentioned something about the keys. I didn’t second guess anything and hopped back on when gas was in and he was ready.
Hitting the freeway, I felt free as a bird. Wind hitting my hair, cruising in and out of nearby cars…I felt nothing could get in our way. I wrapped my arms tightly around Sam and felt at peace.
Harmony feelings can suddenly come to a halting stop.
Sam took an exit off the freeway and failed to slow down. At first, I thought he was maybe showing off. But he only went faster than faster. At one point he was doing over 100 mph. I was scared and unsure why he was doing this.
Looking behind me, it became obvious when I saw the red and blue lights. I was the forced participant of a high speed pursuit.
“SAM, SLOW DOWN! PLEASE STOP”. I begged this over and over only for him to continue to tell me in a calm and oh so haunting way, “it will be alright baby, just hold on…I promise it’ll be alright.”
Promises as we all know can be broken.
God came to mind and I began asking him for help. Begging for this not to be the end.
Suddenly, I froze. I became petrified with fear. In all of my years of watching Cops, I knew the result would more than likely not be good.
Looking to. My right, I saw a field. The field calmed me and I seemed to be brought to a place of calmness and surety that everything would be okay.
God? Maybe.
The field is the last thing I remember.
“FLIGHT BIRD STAT! We have a possible fatality! I repeat, a possible fatality! They’ve hit!”
I don’t remember this moment but I’ve read the reports enough times over to develop an internal visual.
The officer ran up to me first since the driver seemed to be fine other than whining of a broken wrist. I, on the other hand, laid in a fetal position-rocking, while making gurgling noises.
The officer went to touch my shoulder and I turned over, flailing…screaming. I called this man all sorts of names with pig being one of them. I have always had the most utmost respect for police officers…I never.
Listed as combative. Listed as uncooperative. The paramedics showed and I was rushed to the nearest ER.
Screaming and spitting at the nurses. If they only knew me, they would’ve known I was not being myself. They tried to drug me but it killed my heart so they had to rejump me.
This was the moment when the old me died and the new me was born.
One week later I started coming in and out of conscience.
In first opening my eyes, it was just me lying in a hospital bed. I was scared and not knowing. There were IVs all over and something stuffed up my most private of areas, I was so unsure on what was happening but I knew it was morning and I had to get to work.
Standing up in the hospital bed, I tried with all my might to pull out the catheter. I was late for work…I had to get to work.
Frustrated it wasn’t coming out, I began to sob.
My mom suddenly rushed in. Trying to get me to sit back down, I only repeated the same thing in how I was late for work and how I was going to be fired. My mom tried to calm me but I wouldn’t take any part of relaxing.
Finally, my mom wanted me to look into the mirror. I did. What I saw in the mirror was something so unfamiliar. It couldn’t have been me looking back.
Blood caked to my face, large red circles surrounding my eyes, hair matted, teeth stained with blood…
Confusion set in…why was I here? Where was Sam? My mom tried to tell me but I wouldn’t believe her. She even tried telling me Sam wasn’t his real name and he was in reality a multi time felon, criminal, but I wouldn’t believe her.
I ended up being diagnosed with a TBI(traumatic brain injury) to the left frontal lobe region, multiple hematomas, multiple left fractured ribs, and a shattered left scapula(my dominant arm). Sam only had a broken right wrist. All this pain for what? But I never blamed him…something went wrong but I was failing to see it was him.
At one point while sleeping, a sticky fluid began gushing from my nose like water from a faucet. My mom grew scared running for the doctors. The doctors tried to tell her it was snot until she forced them to look further. Brain fluid. I had brain fluid gushing from my nose!
At another time, I met with a speech therapist. I grew up on the farm with all types of animals. The speech therapist quizzed me to name as many animals as I could in two minutes. I named ten or so. She had me walk the hospital then find my way back. I had a difficult time retracing my steps.
The speech therapist felt I needed to stay but the hospital said I was fine to go home. I wanted to go home but my mom, dad, friends, family, everyone knew better.
The hospital cleared me to go home. Huge mistake. I was no longer the sweet, great memory, funny, fun loving, social butterfly…I was forgetful, mean, angry, emotional rollercoaster, depressed, confused, resulting to bad behavior, nineteen year old. Worst decision still…I stayed for nearly ten years longer with the man who killed the old me.

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