Faces of Trauma

Decisions can change your life in the blink of an eye.  A friend on my cheerleading squad asked for a ride home and the next thing I knew, I was falling off the bed in a hospital.    September 6, 1997, was the day my life changed; I had gotten my license earlier that summer when a car ran into the driver’s side and flipped my Jeep over.  I was in a coma for over 2 months, but thankfully I came out with a TBI and fractured pelvis that healed while I was unconscious.

I had a loving family and friends who came to visit me every weekend in the Charlottesville children’s rehab hospital for 5 months.  Returning home to go to another rehab program for 5 months followed by a year of outpatient physical therapy.  My early days of therapy wake up and ready by 9 for physical therapy; speech and language pathology where I worked on breath control, enunciating, pronunciation, and comprehension;  occupational therapy where we would work on the senses, like smells, vision (I saw double, so this was eye traking); school that worked on writing and reading; aquatic therapy where I walked in the pool; psychological therapy where I would talk about my emotions.

 The accident had started at the beginning of the school year, so I returned to high school a year behind my friends which was a challenge both physically and mentally.  I felt like I was different from my peers, the class that I would have been graduating with, so I tried to distance myself.   I tried really hard and I went away to Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.  Going away to school was the best thing that I could have done; I had a chance to meet all new friends who knew me for me, not just ‘the cheerleader who got in that accident.’ I found my purpose through my car accident; I thought back to the days I spent in rehab and all the fun that I had was in the activity free time, so I wanted to become a therapist who helped others in an inpatient situation have a little fun.  I graduated with a Therapeutic Recreation degree from Longwood, having worked in the activity department for 9 years and have taken time to begin writing my memoir and further spread TBI awareness.  Living through a tough experience can produce purpose in life and for that reason I really am thankful for my TBI.

 

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Dad, me and Uncle Pat getting some fresh air; October 5, 1997

 

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Longwood University! 2005

 

 

 

 

About Danielle!

A young professional Longwood University alum, with a traumatic brain injury having previously worked in the Therapeutic Recreation field with the elderly at nursing homes in Fairfax, VA. Now as a TBI advocate, trying to help others learn more about TBIs is involved in support groups, as well as very involved in my church, child care, and adult caregiving.
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