On a warm September day, Friday 13, 1996, I finished work early. I worked at the Neil Simon Theater, a job I loved during the production of the King and I. I had brushed shoulders with actors like Lou Diamond Phillips, experiencing the very essence of theater. I was also very involved in my community neighborhood watch GCOPS or the Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol. It was my connection with my community that led me to request to leave early from work to shop for a block party the following day. I stopped at the mall in my community to pick up a few things and proceeded to go home ending my journey on a bus that would drop me a few blocks from my home. I couldn’t have imagined that my life would change forever at 9:30pm that evening. Although, I cannot recall the accident I am able to compile the details from newspaper clippings and recollections of my family members. I was struck by a hit and run driver going 75 to 80 mph. I had been left with broken bones, ribs and a head injury resulting in a coma. A fellow neighbor and GCOP witnessed the accident contacted the police and emergency response services before tracking down the assailants leading to their arrest. I would be taken to Elmhurst hospital. The Physician performing the surgery would later dub me a miracle having survived such a tragic accident. I was officially inducted into the TBI community.
While hospitalized at Elmhurst Hospital and later Mount Sinai, My mother would visit weekly demanding that I was given the best care. My uncle who was also my God Father would often call reminding me of how proud he was of my progress. It was this tragedy that allowed my mother and I to spend her last moments together. It would be years of rehabilitation. I would receive Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Cognitive Remediation to name a few. I would use a wheel chair and walker to ambulate and eventually graduate to a cane. It was a lot of hard work, but I was persistent believing I could and would get better. Rehabilitation consisted of time spent at the Park Terrace Care Center, Jamaica Hospital Outpatient Services, United Cerebral Palsy and eventually Fairview Adult Day Care Center. The love and support of my family, rehabilitative staff and friends I met along my journey have given me determination to succeed. I had a roommate at The Park Terrace Care Center whose father would routinely visit and on one occasion gave me a dollar for luck. 16 years later, I still have this lucky dollar. The Park Terrace Family threw me a going home party, complete with card full of encouragement and warm words. It would be at Fairview where I would learn about the brain, its parts and various functions. I have learned so much about life with a Traumatic Brain Injury and I now view my experience as a blessing, an opportunity to experience my life anew. I understand I will always have moments when I reminisce and miss the life prior to my TBI, but these feelings are temporary. I will focus on living in the moment and being thankful for all the love and support I have in my life.
My hope is that others with brain injury will keep fighting, not give up hope, and believe that they can succeed. I would like to encourage the caregivers of people with TBI to be patient, and learn as much as they can about our experience. Please remember that we need and appreciate your support. It’s vital to our recovery. I would like to thank BIANYS for allowing me to share my story and hope I can be an inspiration to at least one other person with TBI.
All My Best,
Written by Geraldine K. for braininjurystories.org