One evening in the fall of my senior year at the Lawrenceville School, I was hustling to get to my friend’s birthday dinner. On my hurried journey across the street, I was hit by a car. I crashed head first through the windshield and suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Lucky for me, everything happened to be at the right place at the right time: Because of my particular walking position, I did not suffer any serious bodily injuries. Capital Health System’s Fuld Hospital in Trenton, New Jersey was only a couple of miles away. My Dad (who was leaving New York to go to India for business) hadn’t boarded his flight, so he was just 45 minutes away still at the airport, not 18 hours away halfway around the world.
I was in a coma for my first two weeks at the hospital and, after I was eventually released, I spent some time Kessler Rehab clinic. At the clinic, I was a 5’7” newborn, relearning how to walk, put PlaySkool puzzles together, and express myself again. I pleaded with my Mom passionately, daily, to let me leave, write my college applications, and spend real time with my friends (without having to censor my conversation to Mommy-friendly topics). After two weeks, I was overjoyed to hear that I was going to be released back to my life. I wish I could end the story there but in some ways my journey had only just begun.
The after effects, the horrific, horrific feelings and ideas and actions did not begin until months after my accident. Just as people were forgetting to ask if I felt alright, forgetting to think about me as the ‘girl who was hit by a car,’ those feelings hit me harder than ever before, harder than any car ever could. At that point, I did not know who I was or what I stood for, my personality changed daily. Sadness, hopelessness and anger dominated my feelings so much so that I had forgotten what happiness felt like at all. Thankfully, even in that unsavory state, I was lent so many hands, so many ears, and so many smiles. But it was only when I was introduced to Charlie Maddock, a fellow TBIer, that I knew I wasn’t alone. Although Charlie isn’t a doctor and we had still yet to meet, I was incredibly honest and candid with him from the first time we spoke on the phone. Why? Because I knew he UNDERSTOOD. He had felt so many of those feelings, he had thought so many those thoughts…..but he got THROUGH them.
Just being able to talk to someone what had suffered a severe TBI but recovered completely made me feel better than I had since my accident. The conversation gave me hope, the pure, sweet hope that those feelings and incredibly difficult times would end. With all that support, & many thoughts and prayers from family and friends, I’ve made my way out of that phase, and am now back to my usual, goofy self. I know exactly how it feels, though, so now it’s my turn to be whatever you need: ears, mouth and heart. I’m here to talk or even just listen so please contact me at any time, in any state of mind; I will not judge. I’ve been there too and will help in any way I can.