I am 26 years old. I have a bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science and a masters in Rehabilitation Science. I have lived with my brain injury for my entire life. I have an acquired brain injury because of a mistake during the birthing process. My mom got an overdose of Pitocin. That mistake caused me distress that ended up in me trying to take my first breath while I was still in the womb. The team was unaware of what had happened. It was a rush to get me out when I got out my APGAR score was 2. I was not breathing and was blue and purple.
They whisked me away and put me on a stretcher made for infants. They put me on an ambulance and took me to the children’s hospital. I was a Children’s for a week in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I was on oxygen, had a feeding tube, and the CT scans showed that parts of my frontal cortex was dead. The doctors were warning my parents how I may not be able to walk or live on my own. They had no idea what was going to happen.
After spending a week at the Children’s hospital, I was moved to a hospital that was closer to home. After a few days there, I was released to go home. I was sent home still on oxygen. I had seizures for six weeks and had to stay on oxygen for six months. At this point, it was just a waiting game.
As I got older, I went to my fair share of therapists before I even started school. At first, I thought nothing was wrong because I didn’t know any better. I went to physical therapy and occupational therapy. I didn’t notice significant differences until about second grade. In second grade I began to take speech therapy. Sometimes, my sessions would need to be in the middle of the school day which meant I needed to take time out of subjects that I needed to learn to be able to partake in my speech therapy. Other times I went to someone else after school, which meant I was unable to hang out with friends.
I had to go to speech therapy because I was able to think of what I wanted to say but it could not make the path to my mouth where I could articulate what I was feeling. Second grade was also the time that I had to take tests to ‘prove’ that I had a brain injury. The testing was for all the legal stuff that went on. The results showed what it was supposed to, that I had a brain injury. The unfortunate part of the testing process was that I had to miss even more school to do them. This made me feel even more alienated.
After all the testing and I had gotten to a point where I was able to stop speech therapy, my life became normal. This was nice. I was able to have a childhood. I could enjoy my dance classes after school. After finishing elementary school, I changed my sport from dancing to figure skating. The ice is where I feel my best. It allows me to forget the differences and struggles in my life. This is so freeing, but sometimes it is a problem because I let myself get so frustrated at how long it takes me to learn a new skill.
The next time I had to face major difficulties with my brain injury was when it was time to apply to colleges. I can work my butt off in school and get decent grades, but my test scores don’t make that believable. I was lucky enough to get extra time to take a test, but that still didn’t help. It took me transferring school to find a school that I could excel in. When I found the right school for me, I was able to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Sports Science.
Now I am waiting to find out what my next step in life is.