Maralee’s Story

The challenges of a traumatic brain injury can be daunting. My life before my injury was full and busy! I was an elementary school teacher, group exercise instructor, and a mom! While outside at recess with my class, a student accidentally kicked a soccer ball into the back of my head. Although doctors have different opinions about the severity of my injury, I couldn’t read, drive, be around sound, light, or movement. I could hardly walk and startled at everything.


During my recovery, I encountered numerous uninformed doctors and worker’s comp, making the process much more difficult. Dr. Byrd, Shawn Potter, and Hilary Mariano helped me fight for treatment. My absolute best advice is to find a functional neurologist as soon as possible, and to make connections with people at Brain Injury Services like BIAV!


Through BIAV, I found Camp Bruce McCoy, which I have attended for the past two years. I love camp! It changed my mental and spiritual outlook on my brain injury in such a positive way. I was with counselors who truly took the time to listen and help all of us. I learned how much I could actually do with support and decided not to be afraid to ask for help anymore. I figured out that my brain injury is something to embrace instead of something to fight, though I still work really hard at my therapies and recovery.


Today, I have a lot of neurofatigue and still have quite a lot of sensory processing issues. My vision, listening, comprehension, balance, and memory are things that still challenge me. I have to plan which outings I can attend. There are definite financial and emotional challenges that go along with having a traumatic brain injury.


Functional neurology and speech therapy was helpful early on to help me begin reading again. Also, sunglasses, hats, and earplugs!


Through this process I have had tremendous support. Number one, I am supported by God. He knows what I need even if I can’t find the words. My family, church, Shine Sisters, clubhouse and camp friends, my friend Amy, and some wonderful service providers have supported me in so many ways. It means the world to me to have people believe and understand me and my injury.


Cristabelle Braden sang to us at camp this year that we are not alone. We were all crying, because having a brain injury really can feel dark and lonely sometimes. But she was right; you are not alone. Reach out even though it is hard. God knows right where you are and just what you need.