March is Brain Injury Awareness month. I’d like to wave the green ribbon (the brain injury awareness symbol) high because I am a traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivor. Although, walking, eating and smiling are elementary to most people, it wasn’t for me. Today I look, sound and move like everyone else, but I fought hard to look and lead a normal life. When I was ten, I ended up in a coma from a vehicle accident. I was sleeping in the backseat of a car when I woke a week later in the hospital with no memory of who I was, my past or what happened. I was paralyzed from head to toe on the right side of my body. I just suffered a left side TBI. From that day on, I started my life over. I learned everything from how to sit, to how to walk, to how to hold a pen again. I still remember it took me exactly a month to be able to draw a big circle on an 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper. I felt like a kid learning how to tie her shoelaces for the first time. I had a temporary feeding tube until doctors thought it was safe for me to eat soft foods. I fell in love with hospital apple sauce and chicken noodle soup. However, as my body learned to function, half of my face remained paralyzed. Only the left side of my mouth moved when I talked or smiled. My right eye only shut halfway when I slept. Nurses used ointment to fill the gap. Doctors had no solution for this.
After leaving the hospital for outpatient care, my parents searched the country to find the right doctors to treat me. It took more than one doctor and they were in multiple states. Instead of camping and sleepovers, I spent most of my childhood missing school travelling from state to state to see my doctors. However, I don’t regret one moment of it, not even the accident. It has made become a stronger person and the woman I am today.
Believe it or not, it is this nearly fatal accident that brought me into the world of fitness. Going to the gym was not an option for me. Six months after the accident, I practiced my walking skills on the treadmill. I started at a 2.0 speed where I could barely keep up, but six months later I was running at a 5.5 speed with ease. As trainers at the gym taught me correct form for the weight machines, my curiosity and passion for fitness began. It fascinated me how just the smallest twitch can completely change how the machine works for the body from bad to good or vice versa. Pretty soon I was training my friends and family with my guest passes. Today I am a yoga instructor. I successfully completed several 30 day fitness challenges. I’m proud to say I’m a P90X, Asylum, Chalean Extreme and Rushfit grad. I’m an official food junkie and I’m told my smile lights up my face. I’m here to prove that miracles really do happen through God if you work for it. I proved the impossible possible. Never give up on your dreams if anyone tells you it’s not possible. Only you can stop you.