The Accident that Changed Everything

I had a dream of a lifetime come true! I was living in the excitement, reveling in all that just happened. Then, my world came crashing down and all that I knew changed…

I had an opportunity of a lifetime. One Match, the bone marrow division of Canadian Blood Services had phoned to tell me that I was a match to an anonymous recipient. I accepted the offer with great excitement. So many wonderful things led me to the final moment when I could give part of myself to help save a life!

My husband and I wanted to celebrate this great moment. Since the surgery was out of town, we stayed at a hotel that night. We enjoyed a wonderful rib dinner, and had a relaxing swim that evening. I figured it would be a good idea to have a hearty meal the night before since I wouldn’t be able to eat past midnight, and the surgery wasn’t scheduled until 3p.m. the next day. The coordinator warned me that it was important to eat a good solid meal after the surgery as well.

Excited and waiting for surgery

I had the surgery, but didn’t get back to the hotel until around 7p.m. I had an allergic reaction to the tape they used to hold the oxygen tube in my mouth. So, as I was coming off of anesthetic, I had been given Benadryl for the allergic reaction. I had also taken Tylenol 3’s to thwart off any pain and discomfort.  Needless to say, I was pretty out of it. I wasn’t exactly motivated by this point to eat a decent meal and was satisfied with a protein shake, a banana, and a couple of cookies. I tried to drink plenty of water, which then led to me getting up multiple times in the night to use the washroom.

You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you all of these details. Well, it was because of the salt from the dinner and swimming, the lack of a good meal, and the natural dehydration from the surgery, that I crashed. I was in the bathroom removing tape from my arms where the intravenous was when a huge wave of wooziness came over me. My husband had come into the bathroom to check on me. I was almost seated on the toilet, trying to get my head between my knees to help with the dizziness. The next thing I knew, I was on the ground, my husband hovering over me frantically rubbing my back and yelling my name!

I had passed out, fallen off of the toilet, and hit my front left forehead on the tile floor. The ambulance was called and I was headed back to the hospital. My blood pressure was 80 over 50 and I felt… weird.

Waking up from surgery

While lying in the emergency room, I turned to look at my husband. I felt extremely dizzy and grabbed onto the rails at the side of the bed in sheer terror, feeling like the entire bed was flipping over. Something wasn’t right.  I instantly panicked and began to cry.

The doctors thought I was just dehydrated. During the next three weeks, I saw four different doctors, returned to work, watched movies, and lived on Gatorade, water, and Pedialyte in order to get rehydrated. During this time more damage was done and I was finally diagnosed with a concussion. I was ‘sentenced’ to two weeks of complete darkness and absolute rest.

Feeling awful but not knowing what was wrong so we went shopping

I had 21 of the 22 symptoms on the SCAT form (#3 Symptom Evaluation), most of them severe. I had extreme headaches, dizziness, nausea, insomnia, sensitivity to noise and light, etc. I felt like a ‘train-wreck’! Doctors told me it should only last a few weeks to six months.

Well, here I am three years later, still recovering and finding my way one step and one doctor at a time.

I had no idea that a brain injury could affect so much of the body and of life. It is still something that the medical professionals are trying to learn about in order to give better insight and help. It is tricky and complex. There are many different things you can try to do, but the biggest need is time.

I get it. I get the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual battle that this injury causes. I get the frustration of desperately wanting help and healing, yet finding the process painfully slow. I understand the constant changes of boundaries of what you can and can’t handle. It’s a huge challenge to navigate relationships post-concussion, and to figure out this new life of yours.

For the longest time, I just wanted it to end! I didn’t want people to see me as broken or struggling. I was tired of yet another person saying, “You’re still not over that yet?”, or “You still can’t do this or that?” It is difficult for people who haven’t experienced this to know what you’re going through. It’s hard when they can’t see a cast around your head to show that something isn’t right.

But, when I could start to take my eyes off of myself and my own ailment (I’m not perfect at this!), I wanted to give others who are struggling with a mild-TBI (traumatic brain injury) hope. I want to be able to offer you what I have learned over the years. I pray that through this blog, you can find solutions and help for your recovery. I want to offer more understanding to your family and friends of what you’re actually going through and why.

You are not alone in this. Let’s fight through this together.

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  1. Patti

    January 7, 2020 at 7:27 am

    During my years of nursing as an RPN I learned that “brain injuries and concussions are the “most understood and most judgemental diagnosis”
    Praise be to God that you are writing about being diagnosed with this. You will spread light, compassion, empathy and most importantly understanding to those who suffering. Helping families and friends to understand how one day you may be feeling well while the next day you are plagued with the grueling symptoms of this diagnosis. I pray that people who read your blog will find the peace that they are longing for. It is so wonderful that you are sharing your life’s story! God bless you for sharing this!

    1. Rachel

      January 7, 2020 at 10:38 am

      Hi Patti,
      Thank you for your encouragement. It is definitely a tricky thing to deal with. I hope I can shed some light and help through the experience I have had and the various forms of therapy I’ve tried. Most of all, I hope to offer encouragement and support as it can be tough spiritually as well. Thank you for the prayers!

  2. Joy formerly of Texas

    January 12, 2020 at 8:13 am

    Hi Rachel,
    I read through your whole blog so far and love your heart and desire to share and minister to others. I love life stories and seeing how God walks people through their own lives in His unique ways but I also have a friend with a TBI and just reading has taught and challenged my heart there too so thank you for your bravery and willingness to share. I look forward to following along.

    1. Rachel

      January 13, 2020 at 8:02 am

      Thank you Joy. I’m glad to hear that I was able to offer you some insight for your friend. Brain injuries are brutal and very slow to heal from, but I pray for healing for your friend.

  3. mary lynn

    January 16, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    I’m sorry to hear that what started out as a beautiful gift (bone marrow) ended up with such pain. You’re storing up treasures in Heaven, not only through your life-giving bone marrow, but also with encouragement to others. Impressive.

    1. Rachel

      January 17, 2020 at 7:51 am

      Thank you Mary Lynn. God has done amazing things throughout this journey. I look forward to sharing about them. He’s been there all along.

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