The words I have a brain injury are the hardest to say. Before my injury, I owned my own business for 30 years called Taylor Made for You: a premiere gift basket company. I was a very active mother of 2 boys and had recently begun dating again.
On May 15, 2013, while in bed, my partner noticed my body go limp, and because he was a nurse, he realized something was wrong and called 911. I was at the hospital within 20 minutes, but because my brain swelled so fast, they did a craniotomy immediately. I had suffered a stroke due to a hole in my heart and spent the next 3-4 weeks in the ICU at Johnston Willis.
The biggest roadblock during my recovery was me; I had difficulty accepting this injury. I spent time at Johnston Willis Rehab, The MCV Unit, and a nursing home. I remember I couldn’t swallow and had left-side weakness. Because I thought I was fine, it took convincing that things were bad.
My parents, who were 80 at the time, moved in with me and took care of me. One of my sons took a semester off of college to tend to me and my other son took over my business. My mother used to attend my support group meetings with me at Woodlake/Huguenot UMC in Chesterfield, VA, but I am now strong enough to go alone.
Club Rec through Sheltering Arms was the best thing I did. While there, I was able to socialize with people, play games, go bowling, go out to lunch, and swim at the pool. I also work with a great cognitive therapist, Mike Cerreto, who is the owner of A Talented Mind.
When I wanted to improve my executive functioning skills, I reached out to BIAV for information about the resources available. After speaking with Deborah, I received helpful information so I could continue with my recovery.
I am still working on my executive function skills to this day. I have numbness in my left hand and lack sensation. I struggle with remembering times and dates as well. I also struggle with knowing that I look normal to people and yet they don’t know about my injury and the difficulties I have. Sometimes, I want to wear a badge that says, “ I have brain injury ” so people will understand.
I often question who I am and wonder what options there are for me, but I feel like I have a lot to offer. My brain hasn’t stopped working; it probably works better than it ever did. I would like to start volunteering and even help other people who have a brain injury.
I have to remember to keep putting 1 foot in front of the other. We don’t get to pick the cards we are dealt, but we do have to play them.