The way it was and the way it is now. I am a car accident survivor and my life changed on October 24, 2008. I was on my way to work when I was T-boned by a dump truck. That was the day my life changed and my path would never be the same. Before the car accident I was working two jobs, I played recreational sports and I was a mother of three teenagers. My life was very busy!
After my car accident, the first six months involved three different hospitals for intensive rehabilitation. I had to learn to do just about everything, all over again.
An injury to the brain is like a filing cabinet in your mind where all your thoughts from the past, present and future have been knocked over and now all the files are scattered. It’s up to you to put the files back together…. some might be lost, some need to be reorganized……it’s a task that you will need help with, as you recover.
Recovering from an ABI (acquired brain injury) is a lifelong process. As you are developing the new you, there are stages you will go through. It’s a giant relearning curve. Car accident survivors take adaption to a whole new level. When my Glasgow scale reached 8 out of 15, I was able to go home from the hospital to the care of my brother Mike. I could not have accomplished all that needed to be done without him and all of the other people who helped me, and encouraged me to keep going.
You will grieve your losses. Not just at first. But the grieving process is like losing a loved one. It never really ends but becomes less intense and a little easier to accept.
After my car accident, I live with fear and self doubt. I’m not afraid of the boogie man, but I am afraid of falling, forgetting things, repeating myself, making mistakes. After 10 years, do I fall? Yes….. Do I forget? Yes. Do I repeat myself and make mistakes? Yes. It’s ok though. I’m human, AND I’m living with my brain injured self! Survivors do what many people don’t understand. They’ve survived a major trauma in their life; and they deserve a pat on the back with all their accomplishments.
The recovery of a survivor is exactly that; THEIR RECOVERY. Knowledge has been power on my journey. I own ME, and with help, I am still recovering and continue to get back as much of ME as I can. I continue to work hard to maintain the abilities I have. Through a lot of support from family, friends, and therapists, I was guided on how I could move forward. Do I miss my abilities I no longer have? ABSOLUTELY YES! But, I like the new me and I’m grateful for what I have. My positive thought has always been, IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE! I was lucky that my recovery costs were covered by my auto insurance benefits. My car accident happened before the deep cuts were made to the medical and rehabilitation benefits in 2010. My insurance company was very helpful, and the monies I needed for my recovery weren’t denied. It was because of the available benefits and resources that I have been able to move forward and not be a victim! I want ALL survivors to have the same opportunities I did.
Four years after the car accident that changed my life, I started volunteering my time with a not for profit organization to help other car accident survivors with FAIR Association of Victims For Accident Insurance Reform. FAIR gives a collective voice to the thousands of people in Ontario who have become amongst the most vulnerable people in our province. Many MVA survivors have a acquired brain injury (ABI) and between the cuts to coverage and the difficulty accessing recovery resources I keep pretty busy at FAIR these days. If my own recovery has taught me anything, it’s shown me that adaptation and looking forward are keys to success and that‘s something that car accident survivors need to know.
We welcome you to read her full story at: www.fairassociation.ca/brain-injury-with-tammy-kirkwood/
Tammy volunteers her time to help other survivors and is also a member of our Crash Support Network Group. We thank her for sharing her inspirational story with us and wish her nothing but continued strength and success in the future. Keep up the great work Tammy!