FEATURED IMAGE: A photograph of the writer, Stella, in front of the Grand Canyon. She is smiling at the camera, wearing sunglasses, a red baseball hat and a long tank top with pink, purple, black and orange colours.
BY: STELLA SLOAN
Writing is my passion, but why did it take me over a week to pick up my pen? My story is about choosing to, and then learning how to, make major transitions life, after being diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
On April 7th, 2017, I was trapped in a car with an intoxicated volunteer driver. He refused to let me out, or drive me home. He placed the child safety locks on the doors and used vulgar language towards me as he drove erratically. Then, as he drove up a hill, the vehicle flipped and turned in the air. As this happened, I thought I would die or become a paraplegic. I survived, but my life has been transformed forever.
I have one daughter, six siblings, and several friends. After the collision, I still have the above but so much has changed. I am no longer capable of working; my beloved jobs as an educational assistant and an estate sales person ended. As a result, I had to sell my home because I could no longer afford to live there. My main medical issues are poor cognition, low energy, head pain, long and short term memory issues, difficulty with word retrieval and facial/name recognition, poor concentration, and trouble with decision-making.
I also have soft tissue injury on my right side from my hip to my foot, which limits my walking, hiking, standing and dancing abilities. My psychiatrist diagnosed me with anxiety, PTSD, and situational depression. Throughout this transition I was going through hell.
One day I read this quote:
When you’re going through hell keep going.
– Winston Churchill
I chose this path, despite all of the pain and suffering of doing so. I engage in physical, social and neurological and psychological learning whenever possible. These all assist in my recovery.
If you have a Traumatic Brain Injury, you need support systems. I chose: family, friends, doctors, lawyers, medical assistance, counsellors, and Brain Injury Associations such as: Brain Injury Association of Durham (BIAD), BIST, OBIA and more. I searched online for supports. I couldn’t have made my progress without all of the above supports.
My neurologist said I need to volunteer/interact to keep as healthy as possible. During Covid I studied meditation online. I am now a mindfulness teacher, and a peer mentor for OBIA. For affordability I live in rent geared to income housing. I am driven towards helping other individuals who also have a TBI.
It has taken time to realize that I am deserving of positive transitions in my life, and so are you! Many of my physical, emotional and social activities are different post-collision. For example, at OBIA I am a peer mentor at the community centre I engage in aquafit. I also continue to practice meditation and yoga.
Stella Sloan is an ABI Survivor, and a member of the day program at the Brain Injury Association of Durham (BIAD). She invites anyone who would like to share their own story as she has, to contact her via BIST for direction, editing and support. Contact Stella via BIST at: firstname.lastname@example.org.