• Survivor or Caregiver

TBI One Love Survivor Ali Schaeffer

Hello, my name is Ali Schaeffer and on May 9th in 2012 at 9:50 am while I was just finishing up a 18km run, dreaming of pancakes, when I was mowed down by a distracted driver running a red light. From that moment on everything changed forever!

I suffered two head injuries, one from my head shattering the windshield, the other more serious one when I landed over 20 ft. away, the back of my skull taking the brunt force of my fall. I woke up in the hospital happy to be able to move my legs, thinking I had dodged a bullet.  Little did I know the significant damage to my brain would end up completely derailing my life I loved.  

I have almost zero memories, good or bad, from the first 2 yrs. post-accident. What I do know is I spent almost every single day in some type of rehabilitation therapy or doctor appointment. Neurologists, neuropsychologists, chronic pain specialists all worked with me with not much improvement. Every appointment I would get my hopes up only to be deflated over and over.

I spent over 6 months attending speech therapy, balance therapy, occupational therapy, vestibular therapy…the list was endless.  The focus was always on what I could no longer do or what I was doing “incorrectly”. It was always on my weaknesses. Super depressing to say the least.  I remember one therapist continually pointing out that when I tried to focus on the task I was being asked, I would close my eyes. You need to stop doing that, it’s unnerving and not normal …. her words echo in my mind.  Like not being normal was ever intentional.  

I hide my weaknesses, I hide my pain. I hide my trauma and PTSD as much as I could.  And then it broke me.   I’ve spent the last 2 yrs. trying to accept what is.  I live with chronic pain, herniated disks, sciatica, Aphasia, light and noise sensitivity, vertigo, headaches, insomnia, neuro-fatigue, continual memory loss, unbalanced emotions.  I could go on.  

I work every day to regain what I have lost and accept what I can’t.  Recently someone took the time to help me restart believing in myself.  Putting my focus on what I can do, instead of what I cannot.  The mind is very powerful and now I intentionally work at feeding it encouragement. I’ve worked hard to becomes an active participant in my own life again.

The key was Acceptance and letting go of what I can’t change. It took a while but I learned only I can save me.  No doctor, no meds, no one else beside Me!

Thanks for letting me join this helpful Family TBI One Love!

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