In Her Own Words…
On my way to work the morning of September 21, 1998, my vehicle was T-boned by a semi-truck that ran a red light and knocked me into two other cars. I have no memory of that accident, but life as I knew it ended there. From that point on, life became about physically recovering while dealing with the added challenge of a TBI, a Traumatic Brain Injury.
I remained hospitalized for two and a half months. That’s a short run for some people who sustain far worse injury than I did, but still a long time. During that stay; I learned how to walk, swallow, dress myself, and the list goes on. Pretty much everything had to be relearned, so there was no question I needed to continue therapy at home. It was one of those therapists who told my stepmother about the West Michigan Chapter of the Brain Injury Association (WMBIA).
In early 1999, I started attending WMBIA chapter meetings with my father, my stepmother, and my son — who would do homework while he sat through the meetings. I also tried returning to work, but it was too much to handle given my challenges. To list just a few, my mom was still helping me shower, I had to schedule rides to work because I wasn’t able to drive yet, and my 9-year-old son would have to start staying at home by himself while I was at work. For a 9-year-old who had recently almost lost his only parent and was responsible for keeping milk in the house, I thought enough was enough.
From that low point on, I worked my way back to where I am today. I returned to school part-time to finish my degree then started volunteering at Love, INC, a Christian charity organization in Livingston County. By that time, I had my driving abilities back, had started attending the WMBIA chapter meetings again after about a 4-year lapse, and was ready to find a paying job! And it was through a WMBIA contact that I succeeded. I began working for Jim Petersen and Larry Paluch at Comprehensive Professional Services on a part-time basis in 2007. Jim was very involved in both the local chapter and the BIAMI. I gradually worked my way up to full -time employment and remained with the company through their purchase by NeuroRestorative Michigan . I recently began a whole new chapter of my life — utilizing the degree I received during my recovery and becoming a full-time bookkeeper. The good news is that the job is a 10-minute drive from home. The even better news is that, nonetheless post-TBI, I finished my degree with a GPA of 4.0!
There is hope and life is good!