A Small Miracle

On 26 July 2006, I suffered a severe car accident near my parent’s house in Acton, Maine. I was spending the summer at home before my senior year at Brandeis University. Instead of moving into a rented house near campus with seven of my college friends, I was moved from Acton, Maine to the ICU at Maine Medical Center. In the ICU, the attending physicians gave me a ten percent chance of functional recovery.

I’m working on a book about my experience recovering from a traumatic brain injury, when I came back to college, and the time immediately following my graduation from Brandeis University. The book is about how, at a certain point, I was able–and required–to take over and direct my progress, and it is about the way I used guided reflection to observe and direct my own development. This is a story about personal triumph over adversity. But it’s also about the triumph of the network; the web of family, friends, doctors and therapists whose support and input contributed, built, manipulated, and ultimately made my future possible… Read more »

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I spoke at the Institute of Health Professions, an independent affiliate of Mass General Hospital that grants post graduate degrees, on Wednesday last week. I was invited to speak in the second year physical therapy lab session. It was super interesting and I got some great tips! I gave the instructor two goals that I’m working towards currently before class, and each of the two sessions worked with me on strategies to meet these goals. My goals were breathing while I’m swimming the breast stroke, which I tried last summer and have room for improvement, and trail running, which I’m continuing to practice and am getting better at. It’s so fun!

Students got information I provided the instructor about my relevant medical history and goals for moving forward. Because I’m not in physical therapy any more–and haven’t been for years and years–these student tips are great!

For breathing while I’m swimming, they got a big therapy ball and I balanced on my stomach with my head “above water”, then practiced the sequencing of moving my arms in the breast stroke and taking a breath and exhaling, they told me how to coordinate those movements, and then practiced and I’ll definitely feel more comfortable in the water next time. For trail running, I practiced shifting my weight by jumping from foot to foot.

Both groups gave me the Hi-Mat test, which is the test they have also always administered at the BU classes I speak at in the spring. I can’t “bound” from my affected leg, so I always miss points, and I was expecting that in the first IHP class, so I warned the students. In the second class they asked me to try, and demonstrated what a bound looks like, and gave me some instructions, and I did it! But I wasn’t able to do it twice is a row, which is how the test is assessed, so I’ll keep practicing!

I got to see Alexis again this year in the Boston University physical therapy labs @BUSargent and I forgot to post about it! The labs took place on February 27 and March 1 this year at Sargent College. It was great to see Alexis. I still can’t skip, bound, or do a single leg stance on my left side. Year after year of these same problems but they never come up except for when I’m doing the High level mobility assessment test at Boston University. 🙂

I just signed up for a class at Brandeis called Directed Writing: Creative Nonfiction and the purpose will be to use the class to help me wrap up the book project! I met with the instructor the other day and told her I was planning to post samples of writing I complete in her class on this site to tease the book. All of this will help to show a potential publisher that there’s a here here, which will be an incentive to get involved with the project! We’ll see.

 

In the spring semester for the past few years I’ve spoken in classrooms about my experience in therapies. Last month I spoke at Boston University in a Physical Therapy lab, and last week at Emerson in the Survey of Language Disorders classroom. Students always come to the classes with great questions and I always really enjoy sharing my recovery story. I think it’s important for me to share the patient’s perspective, because these are future therapists!