• Survivor or Caregiver

TBI One Love Survivor Amy Schell

Hello, my name is Amy Schell.

It's funny.  It never dawned on me to consider a car accident in high school as a TBI but it was.  I just figured this out a few nights ago.  It all started September 1st, 1986, the day before my senior year in high school.  I was driving home with a friend and it had been raining.  Like most teenagers who think they are invincible, our concept of slowing down on wet pavement is going the speed limit.  As I was headed out of the city back to the country town I lived in, the road changes from concrete to blacktop with a noticeable dip when it changes. 

Water had collected there and when I hit it I hydroplaned head on into another car.  My head hit the inside of the windshield and broke it.  Not only was I unconscious but I also sustained numerous other injuries (broken ankle, driveshaft put a hole in my knee and stomach, reconstructive plastic surgery on my right eye).  I was in ICU for 4 days for brain trauma.  I was in the hospital for a little over a month.  It did not appear any permanent damage happened from that injury.  I graduated in the top 20% of my class, no trouble with grades or anything. I noticed a change in my personality but no one else did.

Fast forward 24 years, I'm an adult with 3 sons of my own had a very successful career as a computer programmer.  Decided 2010 was my year to get healthy.  I trained for sprint triathlons and running events and culminated with a half marathon the day after I turned 40. It was a great year!   The half marathon was late November and triathlon season doesn't start up until March, so I was taking it easy.  Went about my daily life as a single working mother.  On March 16, 2010 while on a break at work, I had the worst headache of my life. 

As I was going inside to take some aspirin, I threw up and passed out and went into seizures at the office.  Paramedics rushed me to Doctor's Hospital nearby.  I had ruptured a blood vessel in my brain, a brain aneurysm.  I was in a deep coma for 7 days.  On St. Patrick's Day, they did the surgery.  While in there, I did get meningitis which can happen when they open your skull.  I spent a month in the hospital and then went into a rehab center for a couple of weeks. Turns out I got a bonus TBI out the deal.  When the surgeon opened my skull to clip the aneurysm, they found another calcified aneurysm.  That brings the total TBI count to 3 separate incidents! 

I returned to work after 3 months and everything seemed fine.  I thought I was fine.  When two of my sons moved out by August of 2014, I took my youngest son and moved to Colorado.  That's when things started to go south.  I now know it's called executive function disorder.  My family came took me away from Colorado with my son and transplanted me in Ohio.  They just wanted me to get on social security disability benefits with zero regard to me getting help like I requested. 

Long story short, they took my son, threw me on the streets in the winter.  Luckily, I have two great friends and they got me back to Colorado Springs with one of them.  There are a lot of places to get help if you just know where to look.  I am now seeing a counselor for depression.  I have a TBI Peer Group meeting twice a month.  Hopefully, when I see my new primary care doctor, I’ll be able to obtain a referral to a neuropsychologist and a speech therapist.  I'm taking it one day at time.

Thank you, for listening to my story and join this Family!

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