Molly’s Journey to Regain Independence


Molly’s Journey to Regain Independence

Hey guys I would like the opportunity to tell you briefly about myself. I will start back with the accident because it has consumed my life for the past seven years. I was a Junior at Auburn University studying Journalism and I had come home for a short weekend. I had come home to take some interviews on my recorder; this was before we had the Iphone and all of the awesome technology we have today  The day that I returned, I had lunch with my parents before I left and then I was headed back about mid-afternoon. I think that I had been searching through my recorder for my interviews. I only think because I do not remember the accident or months before and it was recorded on my recorder, but I will tell you more about that as we go on. Anyways, I lost control of the car, veered across the median and went head on with a pick-up truck.

I had hit the truck on the left side of my brain and so the entire right side was affected.  The brain is funny because if it’s hurt on one side the other side is affected. Well, I was unfortunately right hand dominant. So I had to re-learn everything using the left.  I was ambulanced to East Alabama Medical Center and then ambulanced to Shepherd Center. I was not in a coma at Shepherd Center, but minimally conscious.

After a couple months at Shepherd Center the doctors said “she is really not making the progress we want, we’re going to ship her home.” My parents were very frantic saying, “we’re not doctors!”  They sent me home with a camera so they could watch my progress at Shepherd. I had to obtain certain tasks like petting an animal, putting one finger up for yes and two for no and brushing my teeth or combing my hair. It took me only about a month before I could do all that. They say familiar sounds and smells can bring someone up again. Well it did for me. So I went straight back to Shepherd for help with walking, using my right arm, talking and swallowing.

Currently, I volunteer at two organizations in Shepherd  Center and also at my church. I graduated in 2011 from Auburn University and and am now working!  I’ll tell you about that too.

First I will talk about talking and swallowing. I used to have to eat ground-up food like baby food, or pureed, because my brain somehow forgot how to swallow. My parents were super-sweet and would get me my favorite food which was Mexican. I would come in to dinner and there would just be a cup in my place. I’d be looking around for the rest of my meal, suddenly I looked in the cup and I’d see fajitas. I tried to be nice to my mother who worked so hard on preparing the dish so I replied “looks delicious.” I took two bites of it and I was done. Actually, I have a good idea. There should be a diet called, the ground-up food diet. I can guarantee you that no one in their right mind would eat too much. To get off of the “diet,” I had to put an e-stem on my throat. Every so often the device shocks your throat to help your brain re-learn how to swallow. I took the Barium swallow study and learned that the e-stem worked! I no longer had to eat baby food! Instead, I had to drink thickened liquids. That was a lot better than baby food, but it was kind of like drinking mashed potatoes. Finally the doctors allowed me to eat or drink anything I wanted.

Next, I will talk about walking. I’ve gone from a wheelchair to a walker to a cane. This cane I can’t get rid of it. It just wants to be close friends, but, with this new therapy I’m going to, anything is possible! I have to make sure I’m balanced because I’ve fallen enough I don’t need to fall  anymore. My father used to take me to a local high school’s park to walk. My mom has taken me various places just to walk. They are so patient with me. I used to walk the pace of a turtle. Now I’m a little faster than a turtle’s  pace.

Next I’m gonna talk about my arm. Now they say the arm is supposed to come back slower than the leg, but, I mean c’mon, it should start doing something by now. That’s why I think I might have to wait for e-stem to come along. E-stem is where they take stem cells from the carotid artery and place them in the affected area.  In my case it would be the arm. After they move the stem cells, your arm kinda wakes up. E-stem is mainly what I’m hoping for because without it, I don’t see my arm having a lot of progress.

I will talk to you about graduating now. With graduating, I thought, well I have come so far in my education why stop now. The only problem was multiply the degree of difficulty times ten. Not only did I think about grades, but I had to think about: Who is going to drive me? How far is the walk? Are there accessible bathrooms? How am I going to write papers with only the use of one hand? I also worried about my fatigue and memory problems. So I could take electives from wherever I chose so I just took them on-line, but the core courses, I had to take at Auburn.  The professors at Auburn were so kind. They only made me come once a week for the remaining core classes that I had and my parents took me to Auburn University.

After I graduated I went to many job fairs and applied many places. I just could not find a job to meet my physical and mental needs. So I volunteered at the Shepherd Center working at the Welcome Desk and peer visiting. Then I found the best job for me – Parent to Parent of Georgia. I’m an Information Project Specialist and I work on their social media.   
I can’t drive right now. So I use Marta Mobility. They are a fairly good service in the regards that they always get me where I need to go, but they don’t often take you to your appointments on time.

In the future blogs I’ll elaborate more on issues I discussed. Thanks for reading.

Stay Tuned:  Molly will be writing a regular blog sharing her experiences as she regains her independence.