Laura’s Story

August 20, 1998. Nearly fourteen, long years ago. Yet, one ill-fated moment in time was to change my life forever.

It happened. I have replayed the moment, over and over again, in my heart and mind. Why did it happen? I will never know. But, the past is over and done with. One random moment, where life as we know it went awry. That is why it is called “an accident.”

On the afternoon of the accident, at 4:50 PM, just before I left my busy, multi-specialty dental practice in Woodbury, Long Island, I called my husband, Chuck, who waited for me at our Dix Hills home, sending him kisses, and telling him I’d see him soon. But I never made it home.

In the 15-minute drive east on the LIE, a reckless, speeding motorist rear-ended and crushed my brand new Toyota Camry. The accident fractured my skull and I fell into a coma. Chuck sat home and waited anxiously. Finally, after four hours, Suffolk County detectives arrived to share the news of my accident.

Freed from the wreck by the “Jaws of Life” I was heliported to Nassau University Medical Center, undergoing emergency surgery by Dr. Stephen Schneider.

My coma lasted 35 days. When I regained consciousness, I was unable to walk or balance, and saw double through severely crossed eyes. Having stopped breathing during the coma, a tracheotomy had been performed. Until the hole in my throat was closed I was unable to speak.

It took time for the reality of my situation to sink in. I deluded myself, thinking I’d return to work the next day, that merely a single day–not an entire month–had passed. My life, as a mother, a wife, a dentist, had been wonderful, but demanding. Now, I applied my attention to the even more demanding task that lay ahead: rehabilitation.

So much is history now. As a result of processing the myriad details of everyday life, my memories of the recovery time are no longer clear. But I will never forget the emotional support and encouragement I received from friends, family, but, most of all, from Chuck.

I spent nearly 2 years in treatment at Transitions of Long Island, where I underwent an intensive, combined program consisting of speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, cognitive therapy and psychotherapy. My time at Transitions played an enormous role in my recovery. It will always be considered a huge part of my life.

The past years, post-accident, have been gratifying, although very different from my life pre-accident. I have watched my children grow and shared a home with my family. One very satisfying experience was my resumption of driving an automobile. New York requires that all coma victims undergo a repeat NY State DMV road test, which I passed with a perfect score in 2005.

In 2000, I joined the faculty of the Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine and taught there for 10 years. I enjoyed teaching, but, two years ago, I returned to my greatest professional love:  private practice.

Written by Dr. Laura S. for braininjurystories.org

 

2 thoughts on “Laura’s Story

  1. Milagro Goldstein

    If a brain injury leads to memory loss, fatigue, pain, personality changes, cognitive problems or any other kind of long-term issue, the future expense could be astronomical. When you ask for a consultation, they will be able to assess the situation quickly and thoroughly to determine if you have a case and how you should proceed. If the injury resulted from malpractice, you could be entitled to compensation. Don’t wait for the situation to work itself out if harm has occurred because of someone else. Call a brain injury lawyer quickly to find out your rights.*

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  2. Anonymous

    “I just joined BIANYS due to my incident and seeing your article where you say that when life goes awry, it is an accident and you must accept that; I know its not your exact words but it brought me to tears. I fell down the stairs at home in Nov. 2011 and have no knowledge of how I fell and it is so upsetting that I am still fighting with myself. So I’ll say thank you for that message that I will now remind myself everyday; although my daughter who is an RN and has told me so.”

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