Chris Stewart, Brain Injury Alliance of Nebraska Resource Facilitator, sits down with a PA student and Amanda, a mother to two children living with the effects of brain injury.
"The nurse comes in. Strangely, she has two eyes, a nose, and a mouth, but I cannot figure out what she looks like. Panic seeps into me. What have I lost? How much have I lost?" Read on about Kris' experience while on vacation, after being diagnosed with an aneurysm.
Jessica’s professional experiences include helping others in crisis find their voice and strengths. On May 25th, 2017, Jessica suffered a TBI resulting from severe domestic violence.
Our system is so broken. I can't imagine what people in Sean's situation face with no support at all. As his mother, I worked tirelessly to help him. He fought so hard to get his life back but could never understand why nothing worked when in his mind he was doing everything right. He did very well in treatment and when on meds but needed more help than that. He needed long term structure with addiction treatment, mental health, and neurological treatment. He said he would never stop trying to get better for his kids. That’s all he lived for.
"I remember rear-ending another mom in the car line one morning while dropping my girls off at school. I was mortified. I played it off like I wasn’t paying attention, but the reality was, I fell asleep. I became a hazard to myself and others. Intervention was necessary but finding a doctor willing to perform the delicate and controversial surgery proved to be nearly impossible."
It took over three years, but I am now able to bake my traditional arsenal of holiday cookies with relative ease. I can even sing along with favorite Christmas songs as I stir the dough. I have never enjoyed singing and baking more! Until I reached this point, however, I had to adjust my plan. When I didn’t have the cognitive energy to decorate the house, I asked for help. When I couldn’t shop at the noisy stores, I shopped on-line. When I couldn’t bake and sing, I just baked a little and took long breaks to recharge. I didn’t like making these adjustments, but I did them. Mostly to prove to myself and the world that I was still in here somewhere and I was not giving up.
"Although I have very limited memory of my past altogether, I have been blessed in so many ways in this life! I'm a loved child of God, have a loving and supportive boyfriend and family, and have a good job. I'm able to work part-time coding medical reports for the government as a contractor. I also enjoy ministry work helping the widowed. I am a mother of three who enjoys music, painting and writing poetry."
School continues to be difficult, from kindergarten through high school; with many office referrals, detentions, and adults not providing my IEP accommodations even when I attempt to self-advocate. Calling me names has been acceptable, with adults often telling me it wasn’t that bad or that we didn’t report it correctly. I often beg my parents to not go to school or allow me to leave school early. The underlying feeling is always that my disabilities aren’t real and I’m just not trying. My parents often meet with teachers and administrators to explain my brain injury, provide materials for them to read, and request extra IEP meetings - inviting additional people to help expand understanding. Sometimes the school backs off the punishments for a while, until I switch teachers and the process starts all over.
We did this several times until Etta decided to change it up. She went after the ball, and instead of bringing it back to me and dropping it halfway for Simon, she ran past me and promptly dropped the ball right on the edge of the bank of Salt Creek, otherwise known ominously as Dead Man’s Run.
In all my years of playing fetch with dogs in that field, none of us had ever had occasion to go that close to the creek. So I had no idea how steep the drop off to the creek was. As I leaned forward to pick up the ball, my left foot stepped in a small hole that I had not seen. It wasn’t very deep, but it was enough to pitch my balance forward and hurl me off the cliff head first.
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