April 15th, 2019: 12 Year Anniversary post
The Dark Forest: A Tale of Two Pictures
They say life imitates art. I believe this is true.
When I was a little girl, I remember going to my grandparents cozy little lake house that my grandfather built in Old Lyme Connecticut. Every summer we would spend two weeks in this sleepy town area of the northeast.
I have such wonderful memories of those summer days as a child. I remember the view of the beautiful lake from the front porch, the murky pond just around the corner from their home, feeding the family of swans that would visit us in the evening down by the dock and family badminton games filled with competition and laughter. I can remember the smell of freshly laid tar as I walked along the road, the smell of gasoline when my father would fill the tank of the motor boat, the smell of varnish and wood in the basement of my grandfather’s workshop, the smell of the pine trees that we would climb, the smell of the lily pads that sat clustered together on top of the water, tucked away in secluded locations on the lake. It’s amazing the memories our brains lock away, unwilling to ever let us forget them and it is a true blessing to be able to go back and visit those special moments of our lives whenever we want.
Another memory I have of their home was a picture of a dark forest that sat above the couch. I can remember as a little girl always standing in front of that picture, staring and being both scared and intrigued by it. I remember wanting to go into the dark forest even though it terrified me. I thought about all the unknown dangers I would face if I entered that picture and my little girls mind would run wild with chilling scenarios.
Little did I know that at 37 years old I would actually enter the dark forest and it would be a scarier place than anything that I could have ever conjured up in my child’s mind.
The dark forest of my traumatic brain injury was a very sinister place for me. No longer did I have the ability to pretend what it would be like to enter the dark forest, I was now in it and I could not escape. I was trapped in an 11 year battle of my will to get better against a brain that I felt was betraying me. My personality changed drastically after my brain injury. I became very angry, depressed and suicidal, the term “stable” was something I could no longer connect with. My brain injury ripped away my identity and left me curled up like a ball feeling broken, alone and isolated. In the dark forest negative thoughts would haunt me and it was impossible to keep them quiet. The emotional problems were a constant tap on my shoulder from my brain injury letting me know it was still there, surrounding me. I felt like my injury was mocking me and that no matter how hard I fought to fight my way back, it was here to stay. The dark forest was closing in on me, I was suffocating and I needed a way out.
I dragged myself along the path in the dark forest for almost 11 years searching for answers, any answers that would free me from spending another day there. In February of 2018, a glimmer of light peeked through the blackness of the dark forest. That ray of hope was my stem cell therapy and by the Grace of God, brought me back to me. After 11 long pain staking years I was able to walk out of the dark forest, no longer bound by the emotional chains that weighed me down. I was finally free.
There is a picture of a forest that sits in my parents’ home, the forest is bright, very different from the picture of the dark forest I looked at as a child. There is a path in the lighted forest and it represents to me the new path I now travel on, one that is filled with happiness, possibilities and purpose.
Today, I don’t think about the difficult years I spent in the dark forest, there is no reason to look back when there is so much beauty right in front me!
Dr. Hughes is amazing, his care and understanding of my sons TBI recovery is remarkable. Dr. Hughes’ innovations in his treatment protocols will be life changing for my son. I am eternally grateful to him. Tanya took great care in scheduling his appointments, her kindness will stay with me always. Thank you.*
Dr. Hughes and his associates and staff are the best. We were able to coordinate over the phone our son’s treatment plan. Dr. Hughes took his time to answer questions and give his informed opinion. Our son had the PRP procedure as well as the stem cell procedure by Dr. Hughes. He had a week of HBOT and a several cranial massages. We have noticed our son’s speech is clear and he is relaxed more than usual. Cutting edge technology and treatment. Kudos to these doctors who believe medicine is not always the answer. Thank you so much for your help and understanding. We seem to have to seek out treatments ourselves and I am very glad God lead us to Dr. Hughes and TBI therapy.*
I was so hypersensitive to light and sound that I had to wear ear plugs, headphones, sunglasses, giant sun hat, and a scarf just to attend the appointment. I could not drive, I lived in darkness, and struggled emotionally. Dr. Hughes’ demeanor was filled with humor, hope, and confidence. Since hope had pretty much gone out the window, it was refreshing to learn about new therapies. After the PRP treatment, it was like a stream of information had been let loose like a dam that had busted. I saw clips of memories such as faces, numbers, and letters. I felt for the first time in a year that I had some clarity. I was excited and able to read more than 2-3 sentences without triggering a migraine. I found that I was able to get back on the computer and learn more about my trauma and recent treatments. Within the following days it was like an awakening. I could turn on lights for a few minutes and keep the TV on. It seemed like a light switch was turned back on inside my head. The ability to think and plan returned.*
To read the full testimonial, click here.
SECOND STEM CELL/PRP UPDATE
For those who really know me know that I am a straight up and honest person and when I decide to write and share about my TBI it is 100% the truth. Nothing is candy coated or exaggerated, it is my real life journey through this injury, the good, the bad, the ugly and the VICTORIES! I am now officially 5 weeks post intranasal/IV stem cell and PRP treatment and the results for me have been are nothing short of MIRACULOUS! Over these last 5 weeks I have thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of my brain and body, basically my entire central nervous system getting stronger and stronger every day!
A little background:
For the last almost 11 years I have struggled with some very big demons from my brain injury that included a very serious depression where far too often I didn’t want to be here anymore. I have dealt with levels of PTSD on a handful of occasions that sent me down dark roads that I didn’t think I could ever come back from. For the last 11 years, my body has been in a constant fight or flight response, always ready to engage whether I needed it to or not. Day in and day out, year in and year out this has become a mentally exhausting existence for me that after all these years I started to lose hope it would ever truly get better. Over the years I’ve had good days and happy moments but nothing ever felt “normal”. My brain NEVER felt normal, my body NEVER felt normal, I and I stress “I” NEVER felt normal after my brain injury. I would tell a good friend of mine that “I just don’t feel like I am in my body anymore” and what bothered me the most is that despite ALL my efforts and the years of hard work I put into my recovery I still could NOT for the life of me figure out what it would take to feel “normal” again.
I am going to try to explain something, you see there is a big difference between having a “highly functioning” brain and having a “strong” brain (btw, in case you were wondering, it’s best to have both!) My TBI was very severe but by the grace of God I came out highly functioning despite how bad the damage was. I could still hold a job and be successful in my career, organize things, pay my bills, cook, plan my day, week or month, follow up on things that needed to be done, live independently etc. However despite being “highly functioning” my brain was NOT “strong”. My brain no longer had same resilience it had before the injury. My self-assured, confident self was gone, instead my brain was now plagued with insecurities, self-doubt and at times emotional turmoil, it changed aspects of my personality and I felt weak and disconnected in my body, mind and spirit. Trust me when I say that losing who you are from a traumatic brain injury is absolutely devastating! Over the years I learned how to coexist with my brain injury and the issues that came along with it but only a select few close to me could tell I was still struggling at times.
Popeye may have his spinach but I have stem cells and PRP! I am still in the early stages but there is NO doubt that this treatment has given my brain and body the building blocks it needed to hit that next level of healing and regeneration. I can feel less inflammation in my brain with more blood flow, my brain and body are now calm and are no longer in a “reactive” state. I feel I got a HUGE part of my life back and an even bigger part of ME back! For the last 5 weeks I have not looked back once, only forward. My self-confidence came back in full force like it was before my brain injury and my body, mind and spirt have been reunited once again. Yes, my brain is strong!
No longer do I feel my brain injury defines me, it is now something that happened to me.
To my brain injury……I will always stay humble and respectful to how powerful you are but I will no longer be your prisoner. After all these years, I FINALLY figured you out and got back to feeling NORMAL!*