On Sept. 14, 2019, I was the passenger in a vehicle that was rear-ended. Because they hit the tow hitch, based on all the science, and being a woman, my brain absorbed the majority of the impact, as well as injuries in my neck and right hip, leaving me in constant pain and permanently disabled. It felt like what I would imagine it must be like to be hit at the base of my skull by a professional baseball player swinging for a home run.
My first memory was realizing my hands were on my head, making sure it was still there as I thought it had exploded and was gone; then I realized I was thinking and still alive. My face felt partially numb from the top of my nose to the bottom of my chin, and I could hardly open my mouth because my jaw was so locked. In the ER about an hour after the accident, I couldn’t figure out how to fill out the form: I couldn’t figure out how the words “female” or “male” related to me, and when I was handed the clipboard to sign my name from the person that filled it out for me, I sat there looking at the line trying to figure out how to form the letters. I was told later it looked like chicken scratch, nothing close to my normal signature.
For over two years it felt like my head was in a vice that would tighten for whatever reason. My hip has unrepairable tears in the labrum, as well as significant tears in my tendons & ligaments, which left me with a walking range of about one block before the pain got unbearable and I could hardly lift my foot off the ground. Because of the pain and a lot of balance issues I usually rode a mobility scooter to go anywhere.
I was working with the WA State Department of Vocational Rehab (DVR). After completing a 3-day evaluation, it was determined that it would be very difficult to find a traditional job. Because I had applied for Social Security Disability (SSDI) fairly early in my recovery, in addition to “regular” medical appointments, I had a 3-hour mental health evaluation and 1-hour physical evaluation. I had requested both reports to be sent to my Doctor. It took only 8 days from the time they started reviewing the exam reports to issue a decision, and the attorneys confirmed the correct decision had been made – APPROVED.
After moving to CO and being connected to more therapists, I’ve now had a total of around 250 +/- medical appointments in 2 1/2 years – occupational, speech, physical, vestibular, vision, cognitive, and massage therapies, chiropractic care; various tests, scans, and imaging, with follow up appointments for each, as well as re-evaluations of my improvement. The difference in care here in CO is amazing! I had been going to a different chiropractor in Fort Collins and he said my skull was tilted. I spoke with my physical and vision therapists about it. Since they know Dr. Jane, they immediately connected me with her. After being evaluated and x-rayed, Dr. Jane figured out the exact tilt of my skull (almost 2 degrees off!) and how to get my skull and atlas into correct alignment. After three months of getting checked and adjusted when needed twice a week, my skull was straight again. I don’t tilt my head to straighten my vision, rarely feel the vice-type pressure in my head, have great balance, can walk just over a mile, and even run a little!
Because I can move again, I am actually starting to LIVE, not just survive life. It is amazing when we have the correct type of individualized care from experts in specific fields, like Dr. Jane, how much life can improve. Don’t put your health and life on hold if you do not feel at your optimal. Be your own advocate and do what it takes to live an active and satisfying life – we only have one chance – LIVE it.