Brain Injury Voices Founder & Facilitator
My life changed dramatically when I sustained a brain injury in a car accident in 1999. Due to ongoing mental fatigue as well as sound, visual and balance sensitivities, I have been unable to return to my work, teaching, or to my hobby, classical music performance. I have worked hard to learn strategies to compensate for my difficulties and to come to terms with a life forever changed. I am not the person I was, but I have created a new, independent, meaningful life. In addition to my role as the leader of Brain Injury Voices, I am now a national keynote speaker and the author of the book To Root & To Rise: Accepting Brain Injury, I am so pleased to be able to “pay it forward” and help others. I may not be able to hold a job anymore, but I am a professional again.
Brain Injury Voices Founder & Facilitator
Sadly, Bev passed away on January 25th, 2014. Her impact in the brain injury community in Maine and nationally was far reaching. Following her brain injury and stroke, she authored two books, In Search of Wings and To Wherever Oceans Go. Those books led to speaking engagements in 22 states and internationally. She was a mentor to all of us in Voices and we miss her wisdom, her guidance and her amazing ability to find humor in the most difficult of situations. It is Voices' ongoing privilege to continue her legacy.
I received a traumatic brain injury in 2005 when I fell off my 10 ft. step ladder. In a split second, my life changed forever. I went from being a high school special education teacher to being retired due to my injury. My emotions were running in circles and I didn’t know how to stop it. I have been very lucky in having a wonderful family, great therapy and support groups and a continuing desire to learn and teach. I have gone from teaching students with learning problems to teaching all people about brain injury. My life has changed, but I’m still teaching, so life is good.
In 2011, I sustained a head wound in an auto accident, which,in a bizarre twist of fate, saved my life. The subsequent CT scan revealed a large brain tumor (meningioma) that would have killed me had I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, as I planned to for charity later that year. Instead, I had brain surgery! Going from a life of intense athleticism to dealing with chronic pain and brain symptoms such as memory loss, hearing, visual and temperature sensitivities and difficulties with organization and time management skills has been a hard pill to swallow. From the first brain injury support group I attended, I learned so many coping strategies to help me stay positive and live with the “new me”. Now, as a member of Voices, paying it forward to others has become my new journey.
I was a family physician in Boston. In 1999, while on vacation in Maine, I had a massive stroke. I was unconscious for a week, then awoke at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston. I had to relearn how to walk and talk. For eleven years, I volunteered as a peer mentor on the stroke floor at Spaulding, a program I started with other survivors. In 2012, I moved to Maine. Although I am no longer a practicing physician, as a Voices member I use many of the same skills I developed over my years in practice. I listen to the patients and their family members, answer their questions and share my experiences as a stroke survivor. And so my life is very different than before the stroke. And yet it is very much the same. I bring encouragement to stroke survivors who see that I, and they, have gotten better in time. In return, they have given me a sense of purpose and pride.
My life changed irrevocably in March 2008, when I suffered a traumatic brain injury from a fall on the ice. Although the full effects of that injury went undiagnosed for some months, eventually they ended my career as a medical educator, eroded my self-confidence and restricted my social and recreational activities. I had to learn new strategies to compensate for some of my deficits; I also needed to come to terms with my unplanned-for new life. The brain injury support group helped me embrace my new identity, and working with Brain Injury Voices has given me the opportunity to continue to make a meaningful contribution to others.
In 2010 -- after years of experiencing what were later identified as mild seizures -- I was diagnosed with and had surgery to remove a “giant” cerebral aneurysm. Just following the otherwise successful operation, I suffered a brain hemorrhage and stroke. These events, fortunately, left me with relatively minor cognitive deficits but some residual balance issues and extremely limited use of my left arm and hand. I have learned significant strategic compensation techniques which allowed me to return to work as a website developer, drive again, tell my story through my blog, and also contribute to the brain injury community as a member of Brain Injury Voices.
In 2006, I suffered a stroke which left me with residual left sided weakness and cognitive challenges. Though most of my physical challenges resolved, my remaining cognitive issues resulted in my having to leave my work as a Program Specialist working with Girls Scouts 2 years after the stroke. My search to understand the challenges I still faced led me to a brain injury support group, where I found others struggling with some of the same challenges I faced. Now, as a member of Brain Injury Voices, I once again feel that I am a valuable member of society, using my experience as an educator and a brain injury survivor to educate others about brain injury.
In 2000, I was hit by a car and sustained a serious leg injury. It was only by acknowledging my headaches, sleep issues, vision issues, and fatigue that I realized I had also suffered a brain injury. It was never diagnosed by the medical community. Then I began my search for how to recover. My activities-dance, walking, golf, snowshoeing, skiing, music- have all been productive in healing for my injured leg and my brain injury and are some of my strong recommendations for others. I eventually joined a brain injury support group, not only for the support for myself, but also to give support to others and encourage them to keep working at recovering. Joining Brain Injury Voices is an aspect of that desire to help.
My brain injury resulted from a fall off my horse in 2006. I went from being a 3rd grade teacher, musician and avid horseback rider to being homebound due to my brain injury symptoms. After 3 lonely and challenging years, I was finally well enough to enter into an outpatient brain injury rehab program and begin reinventing myself. Now, I am a painter and mosaic artist. I put together exhibits of art and writing about the journey of loss, recovery and reinventing one’s self for Portland’s rehab hospital. I've written a book titled Reinventing Oneself after Loss, An Artful Insight. I am always looking forward to opportunities to give to others through Brain Injury Voices. This group has made it possible for me to help survivors and their families with their recovery and reinvention process.