The last six years have been devastating for Laura at many levels: emotionally, financially and physically. In November 2009 Laura suffered a freak bicycle accident and sustained a severe Traumatic Brain Injury. At her insistence, she was discharged directly from the Intensive Care Unit to home. She was going to do what she had always done: go home and find a way to overcome her injury. This mountain, however, was larger than she thought. Her vision was severely blurred, slanted and double, requiring her to wear a patch over one eye in order to see. She had very poor balance, numb feet and constant, unremitting neuropathic pain burning from her toes all the way up her right leg to the hip. She developed chronic muscles spasms in her neck and back, and bilateral frozen shoulders. The relentless burning sensation, muscle rigidity, and her “unstable visual platform” (causing dizziness and motion sickness) increased tenfold with any kind of movement.
She was so broken, and so desperate for a way forward. Her Kaiser doctors’ approach was “wait and see”: nothing to be done but wait and see what function returns over the next couple of years. Instead, determined to regain her life, Laura designed her own physical rehab program and has pressed the envelope of her limits. In addition, she has spent her own money in pursuit of treatment that Kaiser did not provide - some of which have been effective, and some which have not. Her efforts have resulted in defying expectations for an injury as severe as hers. She is able to bike and hike again, but only on familiar paths, and with considerable pain. She has a terrible time navigating any new areas that her brain has not already “mapped” as well as experiencing severe sensory overload in public places. Her life is largely confined to known spaces: her home, her trails and the field where she exercises her beloved dog, Finch.
Laura continues to monitor new research about TBI treatment and recovery. She has found two very hopeful areas to pursue: treatment protocols in the field of Neuro-Ophthalmology, and new developments in the area of Neurofeedback. She is, however, out of resources. Laura does not easily ask for help, but has been encouraged to do so by those of us that support her. I would invite you to join us in bringing this deserving woman access to the treatment she needs, a renewed sense of hope and an awareness that she is not, in fact, alone.
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