Survivor or Caregiver
TBI One Love Survivor Paula Dusky
Hello, my name is Paula Dusky and here is MY Story!
Well This is only Part of My Story. Part of My Journey in Life so Far....
I am a survivor of a Severe TBI.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
August 16, 2008 My Accident happened right after 11:30pm when I hung up with my mother. Making it August 17, 2008 I almost died.
My Freak accident happened outside The Long Branch in the parking lot, before anyone I was with walked in. I was dropping people off and going home. That was the plan. And then life changed. Within 10 minutes of getting there.
My TBI was caused by being dropped upside down, head first onto concrete and after being unconscious for 15 minutes, being helped back up, holding onto a car door, taking my hand off that door to feel my head & ask what had just happened and then immediately falling a 2nd time straight back and onto concrete again because my equilibrium was knocked off balance with the first fall and no one was there beside me or behind me to catch me the 2nd time.
The people there were in front of me trying to figure out what happened as well. It happened literally In the Blink of an Eye.
The 2nd fall left me unconscious for 19 hours and I woke up in the hospital in NEURO ICU with no clue what the hell was going on or where I was at. I literally couldn't walk, speak or think. Try to understand that and how scary that was.
I've had over 60 CT Scans.
I've had over 20 MRI's.
I've had 4 EGGs.
I've suffered 4 Concussions after my initial TBI in the first 2 years and 2 concussions in the last 3 years. My Equilibrium is permanently altered but not as altered as it was the first couple years. I would fall. I would lose my balance. I can't pass a sobriety test 100% completely sober. Trust me, I know this to be a fact. Even Today I still have balance issues.
I suffered significantly (then) from Current Memory Loss and I had Cognitive Brain Damage well I still do. I just have worked very hard to figure out how to get my brain to work and use other parts of my brain and strengthen those parts to work.
I suffered 2 skull cracks to each side of my brain.
Because of those 2 cracks to my skull, Blood vessels busted and my brain was hemorrhaging. I have a bleeding disorder where my blood doesn't clot normally. My brain bled for almost a full 24 Hours before it stopped Miraculously as I was being prepped for brain surgery to have a drill relieve the ICP.
I had CT scans and MRI's done every 2-3 hours to check the bleeding. Before my brain stopped bleeding, it bled 6mm in diameter.
The DRS Knew but What no one else knew yet, including myself, I was never going to be the same person I was on August 16, 2008 and each day before that. Life as I knew it before my accident was over. It's as if that Person I was for 26 Years before, died the night my accident happened.
GOD, Do I wish I could turn back time, Almost every day.
Even knowing all the circumstances but not fully understanding or comprehending it all was one of the most overwhelming, earth shattering, heart wrenching and saddest moments I have had in my life. I can close my eyes and remember those emotional days. I cried so much. I still cry sometimes today. It is fine to do so. I stayed in denial for a very long time. Longer than I even care to admit. Years. 3 years to be exact.
I thought I was fine. I thought I could go back to work the next week. I thought I was the same person. I fought with myself to convince myself I was ok. I wasn't.
Looking back on those years Now, I know I wasn't. I don't know what I was thinking. I can't change anything I did in the past that was out of my character and just awful. I can only apologize and hope those understand, if not now eventually, that person wasn't me and it wasn't my heart or my intentions. I am such a compassionate human being.
My Life became out of control following this freak accident,
I quit taking Medications April 2010 and I stopped drinking as well. I didn't take any medications or drink for a little over 3 years and by doing so my brain actually was able to begin to heal.
My brain is still healing every day. I have changed my whole life style to focus on getting myself as healthy and mentally healthy as I can possibly be. I read. I read a lot. When my accident first happened, I was unable to read for almost 2 years. I read everything I can. I keep my brain active. I am careful and cautious not to overwhelm myself in any situation because It causes me to take steps backwards. Each day is truly different.
The brain is an amazing organ. A Resilient one just Like Me. :)
I would forget any and everything spoken to me in a matter of seconds. I still have this happen, not as much but it still is there, instead now I don't ignore it, I address it when it happens because how will anyone understand you or your injury if you don't talk about it. I couldn't carry on a conversation or remember what I was talking about in the middle of a conversation. This was absolutely one of the most embarrassing aspects of it then for me. This put me in a deep depression. For A Long Time.
I have come a long way in this happening and grateful it only happens sometimes, and usually when I am overwhelmed or nervous.
I stuttered significantly for the first 2 years. I stopped talking to people because they didn't have the patience for me to finish my thoughts, they would finish them for me. Why? Patience. They had none. I still stutter sometimes, very rarely but I still do. I found this happens when I am meeting new people or I am nervous. I never want someone to talk to me and think "What in the hell is wrong with her?" but It Happens. It still does.
I couldn't read because I couldn't get past the first sentence and I had problems with word association. I had a constant headache for almost 2 years. I slept a lot. Sometimes I still do. I isolated myself. I lost myself because I couldn't remember who I was. There are things now from when I was a kid and there are moments that I can't recall and should be able too. My memory loss I found out years after my accident that it also affected my Long-Term Memory.
I wanted to die because some days the Pain was just too much and too overwhelming. I had no one that truly cared enough about me and no one on my side to be my shoulder. I couldn't verbalize because I had problems with brain recognition. There were post it Notes everywhere to re-teach myself to remember the things I forgot. Something as simple as a Hair Brush I couldn't verbalize.
I felt like a child because I was treated like one. I'll be 35 on Friday and still will get treated like a child by certain people or treated like I'm crazy. I've learned their ignorance is not my problem.
Suicide and attempts at suicide are common and impulsive to those who suffer from TBI's.
Pay Attention to Silence. Pay Attention to what is not being said. Pay Attention to Patterns. Pay attention daily to the mind frame of a TBI Survivor. We can put on a good act to make everyone else feel ok, meanwhile we are dying inside. Listen. Listen. Talk.
LISTEN TWICE, SPEAK ONCE-Tupac
2 months after my accident I also became a survivor of Suicide.10-25-2008
I'm not ashamed to admit that. Not anymore. Not Now. It is part of my story and it is real. These are real circumstances of TBI's and PTSD. Anything can trigger a person. Learn your triggers.
I took 27 Ambien, a whole bunch of other pills, chased that down with Vodka. It was after my BF went to bed, not knowing anything was wrong. It isn't his fault, I put on an act that everything was fine. My Daughter Marissa, she was 3. Before I had gone to sleep that night, I went into her room and held her. I prayed for her. I cried. I cried myself to sleep after shutting her door and kissing my BF on his forehead. I didn't want to leave her but I felt everyone was better off without me. After he went to sleep, I was on his back porch in Myrtle Beach, crying and praying out to GOD, listening to music, reading the 100's of texts sent to my phone while I looked at these bottles of pills on the table. The last text message I read said "You should have died when he dropped you on your head." After hours of verbal insults, I took all those pills (over 50) and drank that 5th of Vodka. It was almost 4am.
After I did it, I cried out to GOD, I repented, I was sorry, I am a child of GOD who was saved and I at that moment was Not Afraid to Die. The SCARIEST Thought or feeling to have, is that. I just wanted it all to end. I wanted to be me again so everyone would just stop treating me the way they were. I was blamed for years that my TBI Accident was my fault. As if I knew my life was going to be flipped upside down that night.
I woke up October 26, 2008 at 830am. I woke up and laid there in silence because I didn't wake up in Heaven, I woke up less than 5 hours later AS IF NOTHING HAPPENED, AS IF I TOOK NOTHING. I woke up to the best sound in the world and that is of my daughter laughing and kissing me on my cheek. I will not say what I did was selfish. I can't take it back. What was being done to me by other people was selfish and it left me hating myself for a while.
I know that choice I made is one I'll never make again. It was made on impulse & temporary feelings. I want to live. I want to make a difference. And I will. I am now.
I remember that morning hours later, finally telling my BF because I was honestly like WTF?? I don't understand how this is possible. I checked outside, Empty Vodka, I check my purse and empty pills.... He took me to the ER calmly and in shock. Then drove my daughter to meet a family member in Columbia.
I will be honest, I was Kind of pissed off I couldn't even do this right.... Dr.'s and nurses Couldn't believe I was in front of them. They did bloodwork. They told me it was impossible I took that many Ambien. Well I did. I filled that prescription 3 weeks prior with the intent but didn't think I would really do it....
I was admitted into my first rehabilitation center this day. This is how I know with every fiber in my being that there is in fact a GOD or "Higher Power."
Because of that Attempt, there is NO Other Reason scientifically or medically as to why I am still here OTHER than GOD.
I am literally a walking miracle AND I know that with every beat in my heart.
Words are the most powerful thing that can hurt you more than anything, if you allow words to control you. I figured out I have the control over how things or people affect me.
No one can make me feel inferior to them, unless I allow it. A lesson my father instilled in his children. I simply forgot at this moment.
PATIENCE. It is a Virtue for a Reason.
If you don't have any or have very little I suggest you teach yourself a healthy dose of PATIENCE because it is KEY and It is ESSENTIAL in Recovery for those with TBI's.
Not having Patience can and will make it more difficult for everyone involved. Not having Patience actually will continually set you back in moving forward and healing. If others do not have Patience with you after your injury, you need to remove those people from your life.
UNDERSTAND the Injury.
EDUCATE yourself about TBI STUDIES & ALL the side effects that come with a brain injury.
STAY PREPARED & UP TO DATE about TBI's
I still struggle with issues today and maybe I always will but I work my ass off to get through those struggles when they present themselves.
By GOD's Grace, my Relentless hard work and dedication to want to get better, my injuries are not nearly as Prominent as they were in the beginning.
Something I am so grateful for.
I've been over medicated by doctors who were supposed to help me. Drs I trusted. I almost died December 20, 2009 from being over medicated. My Triplet Sister Elizabeth Saved my life that afternoon. The ER Doctor reported my Neuro Doc to the State Board because I had 15 different medications prescribed to me. I now only take 2. 1 week later I got a letter in the mail I was discharged from him being my Doctor. That started my Own Journey to find alternative ways to get myself better.
I am lucky to be alive. Yet Again. Another testament to GOD's will and purpose for my life.
Being Over Medicated and over prescribed medications can seriously alter your own recovery. I know people need medications. My way won't work for everyone. No TBI is the same but a lot of TBI's are alike in the side effects. I realized that medicating myself was preventing me from healing. My brain was already altered and a lot of medications make even more alters. Receptors in your brain are foggy. Life Passes right before your eyes. All the medication I was prescribed, it was preventing my brain from being stimulated. That is when My Doctor Suggested Adderall. September 2009, I began taking it. I have never abused Adderall. I know a lot of people do. Till I stopped taking everything, it was as if medications made my brain feel "Asleep" all the time. Adderall was used as a brain stimulate in my case. It awakened parts of brain Cognitively. It helped me start to remember because my brain wasn't so Jumbled feeling anymore. Today, I have an amazing doctor who is a huge factor in my recovery.
People slowly left my life and they never looked back. I don't have many friends. This is apparently common. The friends I do have in my life still are the ones who have stayed by my side despite anything I have done. I can count those people on one hand and they are aware of who they are, I never miss an opportunity to tell them.
I have 3 friends that are TBI Survivors and the last thing I would/was ever going to do was leave their lives. 1 year ago, my dearest friend Liza survived a horrific accident that she shouldn't have. GOD Spared her life and her daughters. She has a TBI as well. I flew out to be by her side for a week. TO offer advice, to show them Hope and to help in any way I could. To maybe even be her voice because I knew what was going on. And I was her voice at times. I did make a small difference that week. I am grateful to her parents for allowing me to be there during such a difficult moment. I believe my knowledge truly helped her in taking steps forward when I arrived there. She calls me when she has questions or is upset because people don't understand. I do. Which is why I'm so Passionate about spreading Awareness.
I've learned Not everyone has my heart. Not everyone thinks like me. And that is ok. Just because that's ok Doesn't mean I will allow others to take advantage of me or disrespect me.
I was hurt for a long time.
I was heartbroken.
I acted out.
I forgot how to forgive and how to not respond.
Not every Action Deserves a Reaction.
Sometimes people you love become people you must love from afar.
You can love people but that doesn't mean you must like them.
That also doesn't give you an excuse to be rude or mean. Silence is in fact, GOLDEN. I was alone. And Maybe that is what was best for me.
I figured this all out on my own. I am self-taught which is why I think it made attending college easy for me.
I was already ahead of the game.
I don't allow anyone to Box me in. I don't allow anyone to define me by my past. My TBI is just a small part of my story. It took me till beginning of 2011 to start to get back on track with Life and fix the mess I made of it for a3 years. And I made a Huge Mess of it, mainly legal issues (A LOT OF THEM) and One Huge Emotional mess.
I work harder each day than the day before just to keep up from the day before. I have worked ridiculously hard to get where I am now.
I still fight every day. Every day is different.
Sometimes Every minute or hour is different. While I was going through hell Everyone I know made my life even more difficult with Zero Regard for an injury I couldn't control.
Don't be ignorant and judge others. Don't ignore educating yourself about a serious injury that changes EVERY PERSON'S LIFE it happens too and their families lives too. Don't call a person CRAZY because their brain now works different from yours. My Brain is wired differently now. I've had to retrain my brain. I've had relearned so many things you probably take for granted Each Day.
I'm still relearning how to navigate life in what is my new normal.
I want to believe I have faced the hardest days of my life already.
But sadly, I'm sure I haven't.
It would be naive to think I have.
I don't have a plan for my life.
I use too.
It changed in the blink of an eye.
I now know when we make plans for our lives, I believe GOD Giggles. We have no idea how he will use us in this life. He is using me to help touch lives. There is no greater reward for me than that.
Now, I am following where GOD leads me.
I am following my heart.
I am listening when it is silent and I am patient.
I am Humble.
GOD is FAITHFUL for This I know.
3 Years ago, I started to remember pieces of who I once was. I remembered the hard working, strong, loving and independent person I was. I wanted that person back or I wanted a piece of that person back. So, I did what I could to make that happen. I found peace, healing, understanding and forgiveness while attending school. For the first time since my accident I felt important and I was validated by my academic achievements and awards.
What I also remembered was the most important to me, was how Real Love Felt and how Love Acted. True Love is Respectful and Honest. Love is supposed to be a beautiful gift in life. I remembered How LOVE wasn't supposed to hurt and it wasn't meant to make someone feel alone. I remembered How Love was supposed to be Unconditional and Safe.
I finally remembered not long ago what I had forgotten since my accident initially happened and the memories I did have, faded with time. Since January 2010 I prayed every day for peace, for joy, for forgiveness, for GOD to show me his will for my life. What was so important for me to find again and remember was, LOVE. The kind of Love you never forget. The kind of Love that comes once in a lifetime. Now I forever cherish those many magical and loving moments and memories. Those years of memories have set the bar pretty high and I needed to remember....
I thank my lucky stars for those few pieces that were put back together. Thank God that One day after years of praying for these special times to come back to me so I could remember how it felt to be loved whole heartedly and unconditionally. So, I could Never Settle Again for anything less than. He is the standard to match and I needed to remember what a Good Man was supposed to be.
I will never settle for less or think I deserve less in life like I thought in the past because I thought I was damaged and never going to good enough for anyone......
Even when I was married I was alone.
I still feel alone and isolated at times.
I have had a long road with many obstacles and challenges.
GOD's Grace and his love for Me has protected me and saved me repeatedly. Forever Thankful for him and the Angels that surround me.
The last 4 Years I have had to myself. I made so much progress in this time because I planned. I focused on what was important. I needed to get myself back anyway I could. I believe I am as healed as I am ever going to be. For the first time since I was 26 I am PROUD of Myself and How far I have truly come.
Help Stop the Stigma that surrounds TBI's.
Stop being part of the problem that causes others to feel even more out of place then they already do.
Don't make fun of someone's injuries.
There is nothing funny about it no matter how you try and spin it or how funny you think you are, it isn't funny to the person who fights and suffers daily with their Life. Don't put someone down constantly or make them feel less than, because I promise you they don't think so great about themselves anymore. Don't Insult someone consistently with a TBI by trying to make light of something that was life changing and extremely traumatic.
Don't go on about your life as if nothing happened to your loved one. Never let them feel they are alone in this up and down journey. I know what it feels to feel and be alone, confused and angry trying to understand your injury and how to move forward. To find anything positive while moving on from the You, you use to be, the You that Everyone doesn't let you forget about.
YOU must find the NEW YOU that you are NOW and Love who you are. Each Day. No Matter What. YOU will Mourn the OLD You, your Old Dreams and the way you thought Life was going to be.
This transition is painful, hard, overwhelming, emotional and depressing. If you have a horrible support system or none at all, this change in your life is the hardest transition.
I lost basically everyone that was in my life prior to my accident.
I lost myself and while I lost myself, people who were supposed to love me sat there and watched me self-destruct and made jokes of it all while I almost ruined my life.
I was humiliated and embarrassed for years over actions, words or impulses I couldn't control. I didn't know how to control myself, my words or my emotions because of my TBI. There was no one to. help me relearn what I forgot. No one Cared enough because No one took the time to EDUCATE themselves. That is the most disheartening, disappointing and Ignorant aspect of TBI's and Families who simply expect Life to be the same.
Life will never be the same for a TBI Survivor.
Every day is a fight to make it through the day, through the minutes, through the hours. Every day is a struggle between your brain and yourself.
Depression and Never feeling good enough is My Biggest Struggle. Some Days I am just sad with no reason. Each. Day. IS and CAN be different. I am passionate, educated and knowledgeable when it comes to TBI's, PTSD, Substance Abuse and Domestic Violence.
I know my purpose is about helping other.
My biggest accomplishment since my accident in 2008 has been Graduating College (and with High Academic Honors) with my Degree in Health and Human Services March 2017. That proved to me many things that Most Will Never know or understand.
I found strength I never knew I had because I was left with no choice but to do so.
I will spend the rest of my life helping others and spreading awareness. I will stand up and advocate for others because I know what it's like to have no one stand up for me, stand by my side or to help me navigate my way around an already confusing and life altering injury. I cannot be silent anymore about something so devastating.
I have and will continue to Defy all the ODDS Ever stacked against me. I guess that is something amazing GOD gave me as a gift.
I am a fighter.
I am a survivor!
Thank you for letting me join this helpful Family!
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