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I was on top of the world in the fall of 2001 during my senior year at East Carolina University. I made the Dean’s list, was actively involved in the community, and interning at a local news channel. It was one night in my apartment in early October that I blacked out! After 30 days in a coma, I woke up! I had no idea where I was, why my body had tubes coming in and out of everywhere, and why I could not talk! That was when I found out that I had a busted blood vessel in my brain​ ​causing an aneurysm, not even being able to fully comprehend what an aneurysm was at the time.

After intensive filled days with speech, physical, and occupational therapy – I was connected with vocational rehab who helped me enroll in classes to continue pursuing a career in Broadcasting, despite the changes after my injury. Due to "drop foot" on my right side, my gait is affected so I use a cane when I walk to help prevent falling and tiredness. Sometimes, when I’m at a social gathering, or a crowded place, I can only tolerate so much of what is going on before I need to remove myself to “recharge.” Initially after my injury, I felt extremely self-conscious of my physical changes - hiding my cane and covering up the scars on my neck and head. I also have trouble with my memory, which makes getting around in the community difficult due to me forgetting names and getting lost. I now use a planner to help keep track of my schedule, as well my wall calendar.  I even text myself information I may need later.

One of the hardest things I have to deal with throughout this journey is the disability stigma, and being treated differently because of my injury. I don’t like people putting me into a box due to my appearance or my physical limitations.  One of the skills I have gained since my injury, is empathy and being able to connect with others on a more patient level. With empathy and decreased stigma, people with brain injury can have full lives and be a part of their community. On September 28, 2019, I'll be in studio producing and hosting my first TV episode on Charlotte access 2 called "The Voice of Brain Injury Presents..." This project, a long time in the making, furthers my goals to have a presence in the community to increase brain injury awareness through speaking engagements, videos, and articles.

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Written by:

 

Jashun Gaddy

Survivor

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