On June 5, 2014 at 31 years old, I survived an accident that left my car totaled and my life flipped upside down. I didn’t know it at the time how chaotic the situation would get until my mom showed up at the accident site. I was struggling to remember who I was and definitely couldn’t remember anything else about the life I had lead up to that point. I honestly thought I was in my late teens at the time of the accident and soon realized that was not the case. Apparently the head injury I had sustained had been the last in a long line of injuries I had survived in my 31 years, including multiple close-head injuries, drug addiction and finding out I was allergic to Propofol (the anethesia they most commonly use for surgery and to put patients into medically induced commas) which had been used many times in my life as I had many surgeries starting at the age of 11 and moving forward, a total of 13 surgeries where Propofol had been used and apparently slowly wiping out the memories I had.
When my mom arrived to pick me up I had this tiny little kid run out from behind her and scream “Mommy!!!! I love you” and wrapped her arms around my waist. I was instantly thrown as I realized I was a mom and couldn’t remember my own child. My heart broke and yet I was in such disbelief when I realized that I felt no connection to my child nor my mom and I definitely didn’t recognize them. I was so scared to say anything however and so while I was unsure of whom I was going home with, I trusted that they were good and that I would figure everything out. When I arrived home I saw so many pictures of me and this family, though I sadly didn’t truly recognize the image I was seeing, I knew that it was me from my drivers license and from looking in the mirror (though that reflection was as much a stranger to me as they were).
I soon realized that it wasn’t only my memory that had been lost to me, it was everything, my speech, my intelligence (I struggled to understand what everyone was saying and it definitely didn’t make sense), my sense of self and I found myself descending into a darkness unlike any I had known before. I recently found a journal entry from the time just after it all happened and decided to share it here. I found that I had to teach myself to read, speak and write all over again and I did that all while never telling my family as I was afraid of what they would think. I used music as my outlet and would sing so much as I learned to feel emotions all over again and heal myself. I gratefully had 12 years of journals as well that I was able to eventually reread, and while that was extremely traumatic, I was able to learn of who I was and start to find who I am.
Here is the entry I wrote: Since the accident I have had a really rough time of things, the injuries I sustained from the crash have impacted my mind the most and I’ve had a hard time explaining how it has made me feel bc of what it has done to me. Today I found this quote from an upcoming movie starring Julianne Moore and Kristen Steward called ‘Still Alice’, which while I’m not dealing with Alzheimer’s, is how I feel bc it fits exactly everything I have felt since my concussion: “On my bad days, I feel like I can’t find myself” says Alice, “I’ve always been defined by my intellect, my language, my articulation, and now sometimes I can see the words hanging in front of me, and I can’t reach them, and I don’t know who I am, and I don’t know what I’m going to lose next’.