In Her Own Words…
March 10, 2015 is a date I will never forget. It was a beautiful March day and I was on my way home from work. Traffic was stopped on the expressway and while I was waiting, I was rear-ended and forced into the car in front of me. The man who hit me had looked away and didn’t realize traffic was stopped. Taken to the ER, I was diagnosed with a concussion and whiplash, told to rest for three days, and then I could return to work.
At the time of my accident I was finishing my 25th year of teaching 6th grade for Farmington Public Schools, active on school committees and with my family. I enjoyed biking, reading, traveling, crafting, movies, and church with my family. After the accident I had difficulty reading and retaining information, so many of those activities had become a challenge.
When I didn’t improve after the accident, I was referred to a neurologist who diagnosed me with mild TBI, mild cognitive impairment, and post- traumatic migraine. I had to stop working and undergo more testing because reading, word retrieval, writing, speaking, and virtually all cognitive processing were difficult for me. I stuttered trying to recall words, couldn’t retain information, and became frustrated, which made everything worse.
I saw a speech pathologist for my cognitive impairment, a physical therapist for whiplash, and a physician prescribed medication for my migraines. Speech therapy initially helped, but when my progress stalled, the therapist suggested I volunteer to help build my vocabulary and communication skills.
When I Googled brain injury and jobs, I learned about the Brain Injury Association of Michigan (BIAMI). Through volunteering with BIAMI, I have been able to relearn how to use the computer, and also build up my communication skills.
Thanks to BIAMI, I learned about the outpatient rehabilitation center at St. Joe’s hospital where I learned new strategies for my processing and memory difficulties. From BIAMI conferences, I learned more about brain injury as well as new techniques to help with my migraines.
Since post-accident migraines have made reading impossible, I was fortunate to have someone at church help me relearn how to knit. For me, knitting has been an almost meditative activity and I ended up making numerous scarves where I don’t need to follow a pattern. As a thank you for a worthy cause, my scarves have been sold at BIAMI conferences, with all the proceeds donated to BIAMI.
I am so grateful for the support of my family and friends. They are always there for me in times I need it, to encourage me through the rough days and celebrate my successes.