• Survivor or Caregiver

TBI One Love Survivor Ashley Yates

Hello, my name is Ashley. I will never forget when my life changed drastically within seconds!

It was, September 17th, 2012 when I was only 13 years old!

 Me and my older were coming back from feeding our farm animals on our family farm. We were in an ATV called a John Deere Gator, my sister was driving and I turned around to get something and when I did we went around a turn and because I was not wearing a seatbelt I fell out of the ATV and landed head first onto the asphalt!

 My mom was the typical mom and made me get up and walk to the house and because she is a Registered Nurse she knew that it was too bad for her to take me to the ER so she called the ambulance and I was rushed to Winchester Medical Center where it was discovered that I had broken my C1 and C2 vertebrae in my neck and fractured my skull from my forehead clear back to my C1 vertebrae and if you look close enough today you will see where there is a slight indented line on my forehead where my skull did not heal properly. Shocked by it all WMC could not admit me because they did not have a pediatric neurologist staffed there. 

So, I was going to be Medevaced to Fairfax Hospital but the weather was too severe so they rushed me by ambulance and there I spent the next few days in and out of consciousness not remembering what 1+1 or even 2+2 was, I could hardly remember anything at that time. But as the days progressed I got better at remembering things like the day, the year, and my birth date but I still had no clue what 1+1 was or even 2+2. After spending nearly a week in Fairfax Hospital I was admitted to go home. 

I spent the next 4 months in a Miami J Collar (neck brace) and not able to bathe or shower myself and slept with stitches in the back of my head for somewhere around 2 weeks, I honestly don’t remember how long I had the sutures in but I do remember it hurt getting them out mainly because getting them out also meant pulling my hair out too! It was a hard 4 months for me but thanks to my MawMaw who spent every minute of everyday with me I was able to get through it. I couldn’t go to school or hardly go out of the house so I was home schooled from September to January. It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school when I as well as my parents and sisters noticed that I was really struggling with school in general but particularly math.

 So, my parents scheduled a follow up appointment with the neurologist to see if we could get down to the bottom of it. That day I found out that my head did not heal back evenly and is slightly crooked and that day was the day my life had changed forever. The neurologist had officially diagnosed me with a Traumatic Brain Injury. I’ve been living with a TBI for a little over 6 years now but have known about it for 5 years now. 

Living with a TBI is very frustrating and can be extremely hard but with the help and support of others I have learned to overcome my TBI and want to help others like me to do the same. I’m currently working on putting together a website for children with a TBI and for their parents to reach out to my parents who despite all the heartache and fear they endured through this journey are still happily married. I want to inspire kids like myself and show them that nothing is impossible and that together we CAN and WILL overcome TBI!

I am now 20 years old and I’m from a small town in West Virginia called Wardensville. Fun fact, I was the ONLY child in our school system that had a TBI. : ) Makes me feel kind of special! I am a Sophomore at Potomac State College of West Virginia University majoring in Radiological Technology and hope to one day become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. 

I am not only furthering my education because it is what’s best for me but I want to inspire those children with a TBI that they too can beat the odds and overcome TBI because TBI is not who we are, it’s what we have overcome. This is my story and I am more than happy to share it! Thank you for this opportunity!

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