Editor’s note: Jordan Emerson was in a terrible accident when she was a thirteen, crashing the compact car she was driving into the turn two wall at Beechridge Motor Speedway on August 8, 2006. The community rallied around Jordan as she recovered. Now an adult, she shares what life is like with her disabilities resulting from that accident.
Have you ever felt trapped unsure and lonely?
Well, I have felt that way for the past nine years. Envision being unable to speak, move your body, or express your feelings. This is how I spent three months of my life.
What would you do if you just woke up from a coma, with a broken left shoulder paralyzed vocal cord, paralyzed stomach, cracked left pelvis and a traumatic brain injury on top of everything else just like a cherry on top of an ice cream sundae just not as good.
I have spent these last years reinventing myself. Imagine waking up one morning having to figure out who you are all over again. Add to that learning to walk, talk, and manage your emotions. It took me years to realize how to cry.
Do you know 1.7 million people sustain a brain injury every year? Of those, 52,000 die, 275,000 are hospitalized, and 1.355 million are treated and released from an emergency room department. More than 10,000 Mainers experience a brain injury every year.
As for myself my brain injury left me with left-sided neuromuscular weakness. I use a knee brace on my left leg to assist me in walking and I have limited mobility in my left shoulder making tasks such as washing my hair very difficult.
Think about this, you have a nice bowl of cereal and your belly is rumbling from hunger and you dig deep into the bowl with your spoon and get a heaping spoonful of “scrumdilliumptious” cereal, but by the time it reaches your mouth you have nothing but the shiny spoon you started with. Let me tell you something about those d*** intention tremors. Intention tremors affect my fine motor skills when I desire (intend) to do something as common as writing a note, picking up a cup, and yes trying to eat my favorite cereal. My hand starts to shake. The more and harder I try the shakier my hand gets resulting in scribbled notes, spilled coffee cups, and ending with the contents of my spoon all over me, leaving me embarrassed and defeated.
One positive aspect of recovering from TBI, which is the acronym for traumatic brain injury, is the people I get to meet. I'm referring to my survivor friends. I find comfort in knowing other survivors have been through what I am going through and their successes are my hope. Most kids go to college or work. My work has been my continued work on myself. I thought I would be in college, driving, dating, and busy like all my friends. I’m working on getting there too, but like everything, it’s just going to take me a lot longer.
Life is definitely hard, and one of my driving desires that inspires me is to educate people about how damage to the brain affects personality, thinking and physical abilities. For example, did you also know another struggle with living with a traumatic brain injury is initiation. Many people may not realize that the brain helps us become motivated. When that part of the brain suffers trauma, motivation can be difficult at times, which makes it extremely difficult to want to do anything.
Please join me as I continue my journey through TBI. It is my hope and ambition to become a local spokesperson for the general education of the public to what TBI is and how people are affected by it. Please friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or email me.