Andrea’s Brain

My story started on June 22nd 1978.

I was a month from my 11th birthday and my family was returning home from a trip to the mall when we were involved in a horrible car accident. It was a station wagon and I was sitting directly behind the front seats reading a new book that my mother had just purchased for me. The next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital unable to move my left limbs. Because there were no seatbelt laws, I flew forward between the front seats, head first and directly hit the rear view mirror holder, which was bare after the impact caused the mirror itself to come off. The holder impaled my skull slightly on the right side of my head, therefore causing a traumatic brain injury that paralyzed my left limbs.

I was a stubborn, determined child and my recovery went very fast because I am a fighter. I was going to play sports again and I was doing just that the next year. In fact, within months I was walking and running again. I was never going to be as fast as I was meant to be but within two years I was winning races and playing basketball again.

As I grew up into adulthood, nobody could even tell that I ever had a traumatic brain injury (TBI) except me. (I never got full coordination back with my left toes and ankle).

Fast forward to 2007. I had a very physical, high paying job for almost 20 years. I had a son in 1991 and raised him by myself. I bought a house in 1995.

The job I had was like being paid to work out. I was very strong and very fit. In 2004, I started to notice a slight gimp with my left knee. It wasn’t constant, just occasionally. I thought it was just that my knee needed some working out so when my employer offered gym memberships in 2005, I took that up enthusiastically. In 2006 I was in the fittest shape of my life. I sure looked great in my bikini. That slight gimp in my leg, however, was still there despite all the workouts and dead lifts. I just ignored it and went on with my life as always.

My employer informed us during the fall of 2006 that they were closing the doors and in February of 2007, I no longer had the paid workout or the gym anymore. I got severance pay and in a panic, I cashed out my 401K. I still had a mortgage to pay and a teenage son to raise.

Then I met Marty, a man who swept me off my feet.

The relationship started out very physical but after getting to know each other, I fell deeply in love for the first time in my life. I was very independent and avoided falling in love for most of my life, for a reason. I knew that if I fell in love it would be HARD and if it ever failed, It would crush my soul.

I thought I had the perfect guy for me. I thought he loved me as much as I loved him. We got married in 2008. The relationship was good, not perfect(no relationship is) but I felt like we were soulmates.

In November 2011 everything changed. I went down at work. I knew it was a brain issue because of my past experiences. I was diagnosed with MS in January of 2012. My neurologist at the time told me I got a “double whammy” because the lesion was right where my TBI damage was. No wonder my left limb was so uncoordinated and weak.

I suspect that I have had MS since around 2004 when the gimp in my leg started. Back then, I didn’t have any other symptoms at all. My current neurologist says that was because my physical fitness masked symptoms. He also said that being in great shape is good for the disease but unfortunately for me, I never knew I had it so I didn’t get the needed treatment and was taken down with a HUGE flair.

When I got diagnosed, I was in shock. Why my brain again?

I just realize now that I have been in a deep, silent depression since my diagnosis. It sucked me into a bubble I couldn’t get out of till now. I needed therapy and so did my husband, who couldn’t take the pain of seeing me become a person he didn’t marry. I never expressed how I was really feeling. I felt worthless and useless and didn’t do anything to make our lives better. I shut myself down and could not express how much I loved and appreciated everything he was doing for me. It was all there but I was shut down. My marriage was dying.

See, because I was depressed, so was he and we had no help to get us through it. It was a vicious circle.

On May 14 of this year, he informed me that he wants out. The D word. My heart was shattered and still is. I still love him very much but his love is dead and gone.

I have decided to fight again. To heal my mind and heart. I can’t get him back but I can get myself back. I am fighting not to hate. I am fighting to be positive. I am fighting to beat this depression. I am fighting to get physically stronger (physical therapy), I am fighting menopause, I am fighting to be happy again, I am fighting MS.

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