This day was unlike any other. It was New Years Day; January 1, 1982 and I was 18 years of age. I was lying in my double bed in my parent’s home. My bedroom was familiar and comfortable to me, it was the same room and bed that I had slept in for all of my teenage years.

Eventually, I let my Mom and Dad know that I wasn’t feeling well. I believe that they thought I had a hangover to recuperate from. Shortly thereafter my temperature was 104 degrees Fahrenheit. My parents decided that I needed to go to the hospital to be looked at by a Doctor. The next thing I recall is that I was in a hospital room, it was all very boring and deficient looking.

This hospital room became my home for at least two months. After my medical tests were completed the Doctor’s informed my parents that I had viral encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Despite the fact that less than 1% of the Canadian population contract this disease per year , I was now one of them. Apparently I must have been in contact with someone who had been in South America and had brought the disease back to Canada with them.

I recall lying on my hospital bed in my hospital room and staff members were pushing my bed towards the hallway because I was scheduled to have a spinal tap. My Mom was standing in my hospital room and our eyes connected with unspoken emotions and words. “ I can not die, I said to myself. Mom could not handle that outcome, she would be devastated. Please do not let this be the last time that I see my Mom’s beautiful eyes!”

Stella Sloan is an ABI Survivor, and a member of the day program at the Brain Injury Association of Durham (BIAD).