• Survivor or Caregiver

TBI One Love Survivor Diane Nelson Davidson

Hello, my name is Diane.

It's taken a lot of experiences to get us to where we are today.  From the time we are born until the time we die our journey continues to shape us. We all have good experiences and bad experiences but they change us none the less. I'm going to share with you part of my journey.  I'm a passionate person and I love sharing and connecting through our life stories so that we can encourage each other along the way.


On the 1st of March 2002 my family and I were in a car accident that changed our lives forever. Especially mine. Before this day in 2002, I was a wife, a mom of three children, the youngest only two years old. I was active in church as a youth group leader, I was involved with my community and was running my own company, a fast growing home and business cleaning service with 5 employees. All that changed in an instant.

My family had gone out to dinner and a movie. On our way home we were t-boned by a big Ford truck at an intersection. I took most the impact. Later, I lay in the emergency with serious injuries including bleeding in the brain, a severe traumatic head injury, my orbital bone around my eye was shattered and nerves that connect my eye to my brain to control balance was severed. I had 3 big gashes across the right side of my face that were full of glass. My liver, spleen and gallbladder were lacerated and sitting in my chest cavity where they collapsed my right lung and paralyzed the right side of my diaphragm.  3 ribs were scattered throughout my chest cavity and needed removed and my pelvic bone was shattered.  As I was prepared for surgery the Dr's told my family to say their last goodbyes. They doubted I would make it through the night. I had a seizure on the operating table and quit living.  

"Throughout life you will learn that sorrow will not remain. You will see that it is like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon to make way for greater things." Corrine DeWinter

A miracle happened that night. 3 doctors and several surgeries later I awoke after 4 days in a coma and began the long road of recovery. I was in so much pain I laid in my hospital bed and cried. I thought my life as I knew it was over. I had lost everything.  I had to learn to eat, walk, talk, and read all over again. I made incredible progress and in just over a week after the accident I was able to go home. I began physical therapy, balance therapy, cognitive therapy, hyperbaric Oxygen therapy and almost every other therapy you could think of for the next 13 years. We threw in a few more surgeries between therapy and it seemed I was as good as I would get.  It's been a long, hard road. But I never ever gave up.

"My entire life can be described in one sentence: It didn't go as planned and that's ok."

The car accident left me disabled, I had to sell my business and could no longer work.  I struggled to complete everyday tasks. My traumatic brain injury left me confused and fatigued. I have a hard time communicating and understanding conversations. I don't remember most of my past memories and I forget many of my new ones. I get lost easily and can't follow verbal directions. I may not remember your name or what we talked about the last time we spoke. I have depression and severe post traumatic stress disorder. My injuries fill my days with pain and I'm unable to lift more than 10 lbs. The accident changed my life, it changed me, my personality, my physical well being, and put some pretty big limits on what I could hope to accomplish and what I had planned to do in life. All my dreams and q bgytr3hhgoals were gone. I argued with myself most days about just giving up. But I didn't. I knew somehow everything would be ok.  I just couldn't give up. Every day, every year it has gotten better. My family and my Dr's watched me blow through almost every limit they put on me. I'm not back to the same me that I was before the accident and I never will be. But, I eventually learned to love the new me. The better me.

"I think creating my new life and a new me after brain injury is the most badass thing I have ever done!"

On March 1st of every year I pause to think about how far I’ve come and how many more days and experiences I have been blessed to be a part of.  It's been a beautiful struggle and it still is. I do not focus on all I lost.  I think about the fact that I survived and am here today. It would be easy to think why me or about all the “what ifs”; and to live life with anger and resentment. Believe me, there are some days I do. Some days I've had too because the pain and confusion have been too much. But I do not stay there long. I learned to ask God where he needed me every morning. "Here I am Lord, send me." Even in my crazy new broken life I soon learned that I had a new job every day. I found and focused on a new purpose and on the things I was able to do now. The Lord has helped me help strangers in the craziest yet most beautiful ways, I've volunteered at a food pantry, I've traveled, I started biking and hiking with my one fully functioning lung and peaked my first mountain in 2010. I have been able to raise my children and watch them grow up. I watched my grandson be born and spent a month holding him before he got too big for me to pick up. I am braver and stronger than I have ever been.  My most recent adventure is learning how to become a legislative advocate and work to improve health for veterans with traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder. I cherish every extra day that I may not have had. There's nothing like dying to make you want to live.  I enjoy the little things the most now and take advantage of the days I have. I pause every single day and am thankful for 13 more years full of blessings, adventures, family, friends, grandbabies, sunsets, fishing, hiking, and helping others even if just by being a good friend. Bad days, good days I love them all.

"The struggle you're in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow"

I never gave up and I never will. Just like you I can accomplish all kinds of new dreams and goals.  The accident was definitely not on my bucket list of things to experience before I die. But through my journey I found that you can make all the picture perfect plans you want but life will take you where you are meant to be in spite of you trying to take control. And that will be your real journey. The one you are meant to have. It might one big hot mess but It will be your best plan, your best day ever, your best life ever.  

"Your journey has molded you for your greater good, and It was exactly what it needed to be. Don't think that you've lost time. It Took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now, and the now is right on time" -Asha Tyson

We all have struggles and we all experience pain. I love who I am now and what I am capable of because of my struggles. I hope you love yourselves for who you are through your trails too.  Pain becomes strength. Challenges and struggles make us real. They make us human and that's where God meets us and strengthens us and shapes us into amazingly wonderful people. Beautiful people that we were meant to be. So embrace your trials and grab ahold of God's hand and don't be afraid.

You may not be where you thought you would be but it's where you are today and that's the best day ever.

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