by Amy Zellmer, Editor-in-chief
As we enter Brain Injury Awareness Month, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on how far I have come in my personal journey, as well as how far we have come as a community in our advocacy of this invisible injury.
When I first fell on ice six years ago, I wasn’t sure if I would ever feel like myself again. Was I going to be able to work again? Be able to exercise or walk more than a few hundred feet? Was my dizziness going to subside? Would my headaches ever go away?
As time went on, it seemed like I might be stuck in this scary world far longer than I had hoped. Symptoms not only weren’t subsiding, they were getting worse. Doctors kept telling me there was nothing they could do for me; I just had to give it more time —how much time seemed a mystery to everyone.
At the one-year mark, my neurologist told me I was likely the best I was going to get, and that I needed to come to terms with it.
That was unacceptable to me. I was 40 years old and at the height of my career. How could I accept such a statement at face value without at least trying to find better answers?
Up to this point, no one had done any therapies or even suggested different providers to me. I was dumbfounded that there appeared to be nothing for me to try . . . I realized I had to take my recovery into my own hands. I started doing yoga and meditation, I began writing on the Huffington Post, and I created a Facebook group for survivors and caregivers to help support each other in our journey.
I am fortunate that I eventually found The Functional Neurology Center. They were able to give me back a quality of life even I had started to believe wasn’t possible. Their validation and support gave me strength to continue on.
Now, six years later, I look at how much has changed: my Facebook group has almost 10,000 members, I have published two books about my journey, a podcast series, TBI TV, and most recently [drumroll, please] this magazine.
Awareness is growing. It may seem like it’s growing at glacial speed at times, but it is indeed growing.
The moral of the story: not all doctors have an understanding of brain injury. If you’re not getting answers, continue seeking answers. You will likely have to look outside mainstream medicine to find them, but they are there. Also, know that recovery can happen no matter how far out you are from your injury. There is always hope!
Amy Zellmer is an award winning author, keynote speaker, and TBI survivor and advocate. She is Editor-in-chief of The Brain Health Magazine, and hosts the Faces of TBI podcast series, as well as TBI TV on YouTube.