• Survivor or Caregiver

TBI One Love Survivor Bridgid Ruden

Hello, my name is Bridgid.

​On May 24, 2008, I went on a bike ride through a trail in Coralville, Iowa and as always, I was wearing my helmet. My friend was right behind me as we headed down a steep hill. At the bottom of this hill there was a slippery patch of thick mud and I struggled to maintain control of my bicycle, but I lost control and slammed my head on the pavement. I have no memory of this experience at all. I became unconscious and blood arose from my right ear and nose. I was transported by ambulance to the University of Iowa Hospital. Once I arrived, a CT scan was done and it showed that I had a fracture and was bleeding in the right and left area of my brain.

From the accident, my right clavicle was broken, my lung was collapsed, and my sixth cervical vertebra was fractured. I needed emergency brain surgery immediately! After the first surgery, I continued to suffer from multiple brain bleeding in several areas, which required a second emergency surgery that day. I was in a coma for about eight days and after this time my vital signs actually worsened and I became more lethargic and cerebral spinal fluid started to drain frequently from my left ear. During my hospitalization on June 8 in 2008, I received an MRI that revealed an abscess of pus that resulted with yet again immediate surgery. After my third surgery, I slowly started to begin improvement and was granted ability to be transferred to the St. Luke’s Hospital to start my next step of rehabilitation on June 16.

Rehabilitation gave me the ability to receive physical, speech and also occupational therapy, which was needed to re-learn all the basic life skills because honestly I was propelled into a hurricane of brain-altering occurrences that spiraled me backwards in time from forty-four years of age to three years of age. In August of 2008, I had my fourth brain surgery where a titanium plate was inserted for a part of my left skull that was taken out during my coma. Due to the Traumatic Brain Injury that I sustained, I knew that my prestigious professional career as a Nurse Practitioner had truly vanished and that made me sad, lost, and honestly extremely empty on the inside.  

Despite my life's turmoil, a flame within my soul actually started to erupt as I swam through such a challenging permanent tide! I continued to swim with my brain injury whirlwind of waves grasping to create a vessel to display the healing that can arise for anyone from suffering. My mind, body and spirit readjusted and my determination continued to excel even though, now I live with epilepsy, which presents me with yet another challenging life experience.

 Considering the devastating nature of my injuries, several physicians say that I am a miracle! I am so grateful for the care I have received from all of my brain injury specialist, Survivors I have met, family and also my friends for all of this support has brought me to the divine place that I am today and just within one year, after re-learning to read, write and speak, I created and verbalized a presentation of my life experience displaying how I moved from tragedy to triumph, for my life's purpose didn't leave me; it merely merged to a higher realm!

 Health care professionals had never seen anyone with a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury progress as I did. Successfully, I have presented nationally and internationally and appeared on TV, radio and published in both articles and books. My book, Discovering My Life’s Purpose: from Tragedy to Triumph, is nearly published. My dream is to share my story around the world so that others can benefit from my experience, for despite my disabilities from my Traumatic Brain Injury, I still continue to learn how to re-establish and replace some of the aspects of my previous life since there is no finish line with recovery!

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