TBI One Love Survivor Kathryn Fraser
Hello, my name is Kathryn Fraser and in 2012 is when my life changed after sustaining my TBI. When I was on my way to work, my car hit black ice and it rolled about 240 ft. at highway speed, rolling across a set of double highways, and dropped in a ditch on its roof!
All that I remember is, the car rolling once, and I was unconscious for the rest. I also remember very little of my time in the Hospital and other events that happened around that period, but I do recall, is how I felt! I had to overcome confusion, fear, a feeling that everything was not real overwhelmed me, and I questioned myself if I was dreaming or awake!
My thoughts would be stuck in my head, but I would struggle with finding a way to speak. I couldn’t walk farther than my kitchen and/or even keep my balance. The pain in my head and neck was constant and exhausting. The sounds and movement of everyday activities around me left me overwhelmed. Doing simple things in life, like cooking breakfast, seemed like an impossible task. In addition to “just” being brain damaged, the accident triggered lots of new labels, such as cervical dystonia, post-traumatic vision syndrome and an auditory processing disorder.
I have spent years working on recovery with a team of amazing people! I am now an, attending a Sports Medicine Clinic with a Physician who believes in Active Therapies as part of Concussion Recovery. I also have worked with many professionals on Vision, Vestibular, and Exertion Therapies as well as Cognitive Rehabilitation. I have benefited from Botox for my Cervical dystonia, and still work on getting used to hearing devices and prism glasses.
I have had 3 concussions so far in life. The first one, I was rendered unconscious in the street after being hit by a bike. I recovered quickly from that one. The second one is the accident I described here. The third happened just a year ago, in a car accident that I believe most people would have walked away from. I have become acutely aware of my vulnerability to new concussions due to the damage my brain has already incurred, and it affects the care I take when participating in everyday activities.
It has taken years for me to reach a point of being comfortable with myself. I believe the most healing happened by redefining what recovery means to me. I was so focused on getting back to “the way I was” that I was blind to appreciating the small gains I achieved over time.
To me, recovery now means that I can be a good mom, play a meaningful role at work, and contribute to my community. Am I “the way I was”? No; but I can appreciate myself, acknowledge my progress, and laugh at my oddities.
Although I don't believe my accident was a blessing, I am grateful that it has forced me to slow down and appreciate the small moments that happen each day! If I still had the ability to multitask, or schedule 5 activities in a day, I am sure I would still be missing the little wonders that only become visible through stillness.
Knowing that the brain changes in some way with every experience we have, I don’t feel that I am done recovering. But regardless of my progress, I hope to maintain some of these gifts that I treasure because of this experience!
Thank you, for letting me join this helpful Family!