Many of you still have questions about what happened four years ago and what I’ve gone through since the accident. I hope today’s post will answer them all. It is journal entry style and rather long; please bear with me while I bare it all…

May 15, 2006

It’s a crisp and sunny morning when I walk the steps up and into the office of my ‘vitamin’ doctor (holistic practitioner I see for anxiety and fatigue). I close the door and take my jacket off. Just then, I am pushed forward and fall. I think I’ve tripped on the carpet and look down. The next thing I know I’m on all fours with a TV set rolling off my shoulder and crashing on my left. People rush to help me. I’m shaking violently and crying. The doctor rushes in and tells me they’re calling an ambulance: I got hit on the head and they’re not taking any chances. I’m boarded up and sent to the nearby hospital. I wait 3 hours for tests and CT-scans that, thank God, all come back negative. The neurological exam is normal also: I can go home. There’s only one little problem: I’m suffering from severe vertigo. I can’t move my head without the room spinning on me. Drugged up and shaken I’m driven home by my husband who got the ‘dreaded’ phone call at work: “there’s been an accident.”. (I’ll learn later that the safety brackets holding the TV on its wall hadn’t been secured. Just my luck.) I get into bed and begin my recovery. It will be a couple of weeks, no more. After all, the neurologist says it’s only a mild concussion.

May 15, 2007

Five months of vertigo, plus severe migraines, nausea, and balance issues lead me to a vestibular therapist and a craniosacral expert at the end of the year. I use relaxation tapes to keep nighttime panic attacks at bay. I plod along and make progress fueled by inspirational books and prayers. I’ll get through this. The vestibular therapy helps: I soon can drive again and I do not get migraines anymore. Sheer will and determination see me going back to my old life. I decide not to pay attention to the way my brain reacts to loud noises; I choose to ignore the dizziness that returns on a frequent basis. I celebrate my first anniversary by planning a summer trek to Europe: Brussels to see my family, London for fun (I used to live there), Scotland for its lochs and Switzerland for its pure air and beauty. It’s not easy but I make it. I hike briefly assisted by my husband and daughter. I fill my lungs with the promise of better days and make the silent promise to return to the Alps when I’m healed and able to hike on my own. I feel confident that my positive attitude and my faith in the goodness of life will carry me through. And the neurologist maintains that I’m doing great.

May 15, 2008

I’m fed up with the whole thing: where’s the good news? I’ve reached a plateau where dizziness and on and off panic share the space with the rest of me. My niece, who is fighting colon cancer, is losing her battle. I’m losing my lawsuit against the good vitamin dr.: he’s not responsible because he did not install the TV. It’s too hard, too darned hard! In an attempt to lift up my spirit, I start Jin Shin Do sessions (body/mind acupressure) and take up writing. My panic attacks lessen and I’m able to join a Tai Chi class. From one form to another, my balance improves again. My friends are so enthusiastic about my first poems that I start a writers’ group to keep the momentum going. Life is flowing back into my veins. Yes! This is the end of the tunnel. I can feel it. Brand new energy prompts me to begin a Pilates routine. Indeed, no need to see the neurologist anymore.

May 15, 2009

A string of kidney stones sends me back to the hospital. The lithotripsy that follows leaves me weak and weary. I have it done the day before Thanksgiving. Just as well. It reminds me to be grateful for all that I have: a loving family and enough money to pay the medical bills and stay home to heal. In February my husband and I take the children to Disneyworld. Eager to see another side of Florida and real monsters I book an airboat ride on a nearby lake. Boggy Creek Airboat Rides, I’ll never forget you. I’m expecting a quiet water ride and am taken instead on a floating roller coaster. Thirty minutes of fast speed and sharp turns and my brain pays a high price. Upon our return home, I’m flat on my back again, prisoner of a fog that refuses to lift and that impairs my every attempt to get up. I just can’t believe it. This is not a tunnel, it’s a bottomless pit where my good thoughts crash head first (pun intended). My angels have let me down. I scream, I cry, I curse. The panic attacks return with a vengeance. I’m a disabled wreck. Time to make another appointment with the neurologist.

May 15, 2010

Two weeks to go till the 4th anniversary of the accident. My niece passed away last June. The grief of losing her has weighed heavily on my recovery. My disappointed hopes have not fully recovered. This is a long road: my worn out body does not tolerate any of the recommended treatments and my exhausted spirit is asking for comfort. I live day by day. A therapist is teaching me to release the traumas and to sail through the panic attacks (Somatic Experiencing) while craniosacral sessions help alleviate the fatigue, motion sickness, noise sensitivity, and dizziness. I’ve joined a support group and have come to understand that healing from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) takes years; that everyone is different; and that I have to be strong and never give up. Getting well requires more than sheer will and prayers: it demands a complete surrender to the brain’s tempo and the ability to accept it while remaining steady in the desire to heal.  My life is full of challenges yet it’s very joyful too. I’m not fighting this anymore. It will take as long as it takes. In the meantime, I’m alive; I’m a wife (to a very patient husband), a mother, a friend, a sister. I can breathe and love.  Not the same, no, but still capable of believing that life has good surprises in store for me (like my blog, Twitter, and my Internet friendships); still willing to fulfill that promise to go back to Switzerland one day soon. Regardless of the neurologist’s opinion.


Maryse G. Copans © 2010




14 thoughts on “A TALE OF TBI

  1. Hi Maryse! What a journey this has been! Wow. I guess it is best to take one day at a time. I know I don’t have any experiences anywhere near this one so its easy for me to say keep your attitude positive – but it’s all I can say! That – and I’m sending healing vibes and good thoughts your way!

  2. Oh Maryse – what a discouraging journey you’ve traveled. I certainly share your frustration and discouragement, as much of this is what Pat has been experiencing – every step forward seems to lead to two steps back. It is like having a normal life dangling in front of you…within reach, but unreachable. When you wrote about the boat ride, I just cringed – it must have been unbearable for you.

    The strength you have exhibited – and the courage and spirit – are admirable. I am so glad you shared this. I know there are many people who can relate – this is something we’ve found out in the past year – vertigo seems as common as H1N1, yet doctors know very little about how to fix it.

    My deepest condolences on your niece. I send you love across the miles.

  3. Maryse,I admire your will to make peace with the unfortunate circumstances that have befallen you. It’s not easy. It’s not fun. It’s hard work, and yet, you keep your head held high and resolve to put this behind you. Your spirit is light, bright, and delightful. You touch so many with your kindness and positive attitude. The pain and loss has been overwhelming. Sending you love and strength that you may continue to walk your path as the challenges fade into the past. Lots of Love, Cathy

  4. I followed the steps with you: it is a tough road to recovery. Continue the good fight but also enjoy every bit of happiness around you. You are loved.

  5. Dear Maryse,
    You have traveled a long and arduous road and it is your strength and determination that keeps you going. The love of your family and friends will keep you buoyant. When I was little, my mother experienced TBI and I walked along the road to recovery with her as I grew. I send you my love and all of my best wishes. Diana

  6. Dear Maryse,
    I have so missed your posts. And I am glad that you are posting again and for bravely sharing your story with all of us. I had a similar experience. Thank you for sharing this, some of what you went through, I did too. It makes more sense now. There’s nothing wrong with taking it 1 day at a time. Don’t give up your hope, it’s infectious! across these internet walls. Truly. I have read your other posts and your writing is truly a gift. Sorry I haven’t commented til now, I had a friend who wanted to die and it’s been very stressful. But she is better now. I am wishing you continued strength. Sending much love your way. I will be visiting my sister weekend of May 22, maybe I can meet you. – Love and blessings, Linda S.

  7. Dear Maryse
    That requires strength, to go through all this and stay attuned to life and NOT fight what is happening. To accept that nobody knows what the injury is doing while you are feeling its destruction, to accept medical ignorance, to accept it is your journey, that is acceptance with a capital A and inspiring. love Wilma

  8. I’m so sorry to hear about your accident and the problems you faced afterwards even 4 years later. I don’t know what to say to comfort you …I’ll just send you my big warm hugs and recovery vibes.

  9. What a horrible experience. Life has a way of interfering with our best laid plans, but it sounds as if you have developed a good philosophy. I hope your complete recovery is on the horizon soon.

  10. Thanks for sharing such painful, difficult experiences with us. As some of the other people have commented, your outlook and disposition is such that you are coping with it all the very best way possible. It’s very admirable!

  11. When I read your story, Maryse, and think about my recent “surrender” to my cold, it pales in comparison. You’re teaching me what the true meaning of surrender is. So I thank you for that and am inspired by your words.

  12. Hi Maryse! Having read the most recent posts I’ve come to the conclusion that I adore your blog! It sounds like you have a fantastic outlook on life. Keep smiling you’re coping admirably. A horrid experience for you, I hope that things are now looking brighter a year down the line. Condolences for your loss darling lady.

  13. Dear, dear Maryse, I am sorry it took so long for me to come to your blog and read your latest post.
    Thank you for sharing your experience with us all. It takes courage to do so… but courage you have plenty! I am very moved by your attitude, your love and your honesty. While I do not have such a terrible trauma to recover from, every word you have written here can be applied in my own life.
    Thank you for the reminder that it is always important to surrender, to have patience with ourselves and to love. You do all that so beautifully.

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