In 2008, I spent a lot of time working in the city and enjoying the experiences that my job as an Auditor with PricewaterhouseCoopers was providing me. I was newly certified as a CPA after working towards it for years, and I was up for a promotion. I was on a new engagement team, with new friends and challenging assignments, and things were going really well professionally. Personally, I was in a great relationship, we had been living together for almost two years and we were spending our weekends with family and friends and traveling. Things became even more wonderful when I got engaged on December 12, 2008. At 26 years old, I was satisfied, content and grateful. Eleven days later is when it all came crashing down.
It was December 23, 2008 and I had finally gotten a day off and was about to embark on a two week vacation before busy season kicked off in January. I spent the morning doing all of my Christmas shopping and was heading back to our condo to drop off my gifts and planning on heading back out again. On the way home, I was in a car accident and knocked unconscious. The only thing I can remember is I woke up in the car, disoriented and the left side of my head throbbing in unimaginable pain. A bystander came over to my window asking me if I was okay, and I replied “what happened?” I didn’t know if I was okay, I woke up in the car on the side of the road. “How did I get here?,” I wondered. The kind soul, who I still have no recollection of whether it was a man or a woman, shared that a car had hit me from behind and then flipped over on to the other side of the road, causing damage to three more cars. He hit me with such force that he flipped, but somehow, everyone involved was conscious and alert. They explained that an ambulance had been called and recommended I be taken to the hospital for a cat scan.
That day was the beginning of my journey with traumatic brain injury (“TBI”). From that point forward my number crunching days quickly changed to doctors visits and therapies and YEARS of post-it pads, lists, notebooks, and writing it ALL down. One of the lingering problems I have from my accident is my memory- it sucks and if I don’t save my experiences and thoughts, they are even more fleeting and become so distant that they are unrecognizable. I’ve tried so many things to feel better, be better, and make my life easier and I’ve kept track of most of it. At this point, it’s an organized mess, but it’s there- whether it’s in a word document, email, Pinterest board, Facebook message. Tips and tricks that I’ve taught myself to live a life beyond TBI. These tips and tricks are now habits and help define the way I am.
When I became a CPA, it was after years of college, hours of studying and prep courses, and passing an exam. Looking back, I have just as much experience with TBI life. I’ve studied it, lived it and practiced it for 8.5 years. My credentials for TBI is MY LIFE.
I am hoping my years of “research” as I will now lovingly call this experience will help someone else out there. I also want to use this space to give people hope, because my early days with TBI were so very challenging and the only thing that inspired me back then was listening and reading to the people who lived it.
What works for me may or may not work for you, but it’s an idea, a starting point, maybe something new to try. Ask me questions, give me answers, and let’s keep figuring it out together.