• Survivor or Caregiver

TBI One Love Survivor Janine Kirby

Hello, my name is Jaine,

December of 2012 (12/12/12) I had a accident at work where I hit my head; was hit on the head; by a steel beam… It was my second major head injury in two years. (my first in 2010 was falling and hitting my head on some concrete at work that left me with a traumatic brain injury as well). I immediately knew I was in some trouble…

I grew up in a pretty tough neighborhood, the only girl in a house of five children. And if you ask any of my family they’ll tell you I am the toughest one! I would go back into soccer games with a broken toe, cut off my own casts, take out my own stitches and frequently beat up my older brothers!! I was also a boxer. In Philly, this is a pretty big thing – not something taken lightly – Philly is a famous boxing town. So needless to say, I was used to fighting my way through things. You can’t do that with this type of injury though. It actually makes you worse and only frustrated me more. I had to have a LOT of acceptance and patience with where I was at. I really had to trust my doctors and therapists. And hold onto hope. I had to realize your brain is not a muscle – you can’t work it over and over to make it stronger. You have to listen to it and re-train it. You have to kind of work WITH it…

Being on this journey is tough… you don’t know how long until you recognize some part of your old self and no one can really tell you. I started to feel ok though, and started catching on. But, about 18 months into it, I started having seizures. One to two a week, and before they could confirm a diagnosis it was 2-5 a day. I couldn’t go to therapy any more, I was getting worse. And medication wasn’t working…There was scar tissue building up in my right temporal lobe from where I got hit. Good thing was I was a candidate for surgery! So, before I knew it I was undergoing a craniotomy to remove part (pretty much all of) my right temporal lobe to stop my seizures and get me back to therapy to try to get some of my independence back. Or some of my “normal”.

Now, I am proud to say I just saw the films of my MRI post-op. I was really, really surprised at how much they actually removed. Ya see, I’m Irish – we exaggerate EVERYTHING!!! I thought saying they removed my whole temporal lobe was a little much, but people would know that – until I actually saw the films. I am one blessed woman. Truly. To be walking, and talking this soon after surgery. I have a lot of different complications now than I did before, mind you – your temporal lobe is responsible for some pretty major stuff. I have a lot of visual processing problems.

But I’ll just bear down and do what I did before. Be patient, use persistence, and not give up hope…

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