• Survivor or Caregiver

TBI One Love Survivor Nikki Stang

   Hello, my name is Nikki Stang.

In 2011, I suffered a traumatic brain injury while playing basketball with my P.E. students.  A student and I collided while going for the ball and I was head-butted in the mouth.  I saw black spots, was dizzy, my hearing was muffled, and my mouth was bleeding substantially.  I was worried about losing my front tooth because it took the brunt of the hit and felt loose.  The next day I went to the dentist and they said I may have fractured the tooth, however it’s hard to see that in an x-ray but if I experienced extreme pain or discoloration in the tooth to let them know.  A month later when I was on vacation in Las Vegas I looked in the mirror and noticed my tooth was becoming a murky shade of yellow.  I had a root canal when I got home to save the tooth.  A month later my tooth was becoming more and more yellow and was I in excruciating pain.  When I went back to the dentist they did another x-ray and saw the tooth fracture along with a jaw fracture.  The dentist ended up pulling my front tooth and a specialist I saw said over the next few years I would need an implant and braces.  In the meantime, I had frequent migraine headaches, chronic fatigue, and mood swings.  I attributed the symptoms to being burnt out from working and attending massage therapy school.

On March 9, 2013 I was admitted to the ICU for 5 days.  The night before my boyfriend and I had gone to a concert and I spent the night at his house.  I couldn’t remember where my clothes were in morning and he said I kept talking but wasn’t making any sense.  All I wanted to do was lay on the floor.  He took me to my parents’ house and everyone was asking if I took drugs at the concert, had a date rape drug put in my drink, or thought maybe I had toxic shock syndrome (TSS).  My parents and boyfriend decided to take me to the hospital because I started losing my balance and strength to stand.  I became more and more weak and my head kept dropping forward as my mom was wheeling me in the wheelchair through the hospital.  The nurses inserted a catheter to get a urine sample and gave me drugs to calm down because when I was laying in the bed I would not stop squirming around.  They performed a CT scan and while we were waiting for the results I started having another episode where I wouldn’t stop moving my legs and thrashing my head back and forth.  I was then taken straight to the neurology floor.  I was put in a bed that had an alarm that would go off if I tried to get up and the doctors began giving me Keppra, and epileptic seizure drug.  

At this point my brother came to the hospital to visit me and I could not recognize him, I thought he was a doctor.  My mom was a frantic mess and a nurse pulled her aside and said that my dental history may have something to do with the symptoms I was showing.  The doctors felt that they did not have the right equipment or knowledge to test me to see if I had a-typical seizures so I was transported to another neurology department at a different hospital.  Nodes on stickers were placed on my head to test me.  My family and I found that light and stimulation were triggering my episodes.  However, the doctor said that I was not having the correct symptoms to be diagnosed with a-typical seizures.  The neurologist wanted to give me antipsychotic drugs because he believed these episodes were caused from the sexual abuse I experienced as a child.  I refused to believe that my symptoms were caused by that and the neurologist decided it would be best to just discharge me.

At home over the next two weeks I would wake up every morning not knowing who I was.  My mom would ask me questions and talk to me for two hours before some memories came back I was able to remember my life.  I had to constantly have sunglasses on because I was so sensitive to light.  I was so weak I would get tired from doing simple things like eating or going to the bathroom.  My first envisaging braces tray arrived and I was reluctant to put them in for a few days but decided to give it a try and put them in overnight.  The next morning, I woke up knowing who I was for the first time in weeks.  This is when my family and I started putting together that the basketball head-butt and mouth injury were related to what was going on with the symptoms I was experiencing with my brain.

 My mom made an appointment with an acupuncturist and because of my background with massage I called my massage school to find a craniosacral therapist.  I also began seeing a naturopath, chiropractor, using ionic foot baths, aromatherapy, massage and medical marijuana.  My craniosacral therapist recommended I do brain testing because I probably suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from my basketball collision.  The neurological psychologist performed 8 hours of brain testing and then diagnosed me with a mild traumatic brain injury.  This started my alternative treatment for my TBI which became more complicated with the news that I was also pregnant.  I would have to go to three appointments a day sometimes to keep myself and the baby stable.  

 I made a promise to myself that once I was stable enough I would create a website to help others going through the same struggles because there is not much information to help TBI patients. 

I am now a brain injury advocate, author, motivational speaker, and mother of two! Thank you for letting me join this supportive Family!

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