This is a question that is hard for me to define. Who am I? Honestly I don’t have the right answer yet or elevator speech of who I am anymore. They say when you have a Traumatic Brain Injury, the old you dies and you are reborn. I kinda can get that. The old me, the pre May 16th 2018 Jessy was very different.
She was very go, go, go. Didn’t stop much. She was a little wild but yet responsible. I used to always say the most responsible irresponsible person ever. I was a motocross racer, lover of dirt bikes, street bikes, snowboarding, travel, shopping, tattoos, paddle boarding, surfing, long boarding, being one who knew everyone and was friends with many people and friends groups. I was super social. I loved camping. Going to the woods, the sand dunes, the beach house. I played softball, kickball.
I used to love boating and wakeboarding and wake surfing. I loved to volunteer for causes I believed in. I LOVED to drive. And loved road trips. I loved being in planes and flying, I was lucky and my dad was a pilot growing up. I loved Orange Theory Fitness, working out, CrossFit at one point and the gym. I love being a mom. But just one mom to one person which I didn’t ever think I would only have one kid. I loved my friends and having deep friendships. I loved a challenge. Tell me I can’t do it, I probably would. I loved to prove people wrong. I wasn’t a huge TV person, I would watch some movies. I loved country music and punk rock— I know quite the spectrum there. I just loved life and doing all the things. I loved punk rock shows with my ex husband and best friend Kristin. After my divorce I got into country music festivals.
Growing up I was a horseback rider, Thelma and Louise with my best friend Shanna, I loved Legos, I loved hot wheels cars, I loved tormenting my older brother who is 7 years older and being the classic bratty little sister, but it’s because I looked up to him. I loved camping, riding dirt bikes, bmx racing and crawling through the tunnel my dad built us as kids in our back yard. I loved running excavators and backhoes, my dad is a construction guy and excavator so we had all the real life tonka toys. I loved my tree fort and sleeping in the back of my dads dump truck with friends. We grew up in Old Orenco on about an acre, but it was country before Intel came to town. I could ride my horse or dirt bike to the fair grounds or Mcmenamims Roadhouse. Whats cool is that my son lives in the house I grew up in that his dad and I bought from my parents. He lives there half time with his dad and dads significant other. I’m so stoked he gets to grow up and there and his dad has made it an incredible house.
Then 5/16/18 happened. The day my life would change forever, but I still had life so I’m ok with it. I got in a motocross wreck at Albany MX. Luckily all my years in the ER paid off and I had the thing on my phone where anyone could open it in an emergency and my husband was listed there and important medical information. My friend Zack was there, he called my husband who answered “Hey babe”. But it wasn’t me, it was Zack and he had to tell my husband I was in a bad accident and being taken to Salem Hospital. That’s about an hour from home. So my poor husband had to drive about an hour in traffic not knowing much except that I was unconscious and at the hospital.
My husband tells me he got to the hospital and was greeted by some social workers and taken to a room. Once they found me that is, because they had me listed as a 27 year old female. Working in an ER for years, I know being taken in a room is never good. I’m glad he didn’t have the knowledge I have.
I was unconscious and on life support. I had a severe traumatic brain injury, Diffuse Axonal Injury, broken nose, broken jaw, Subdural hematoma, subarachnoid hemorrhage, torn carotid artery, and Glasgow Coma score of 3 which is the worst you can have. But luckily he isn’t as medical friendly as I am. So he didn’t know how bad it really was. I had good friends who asked him and know what all that meant, so my poor friends. One of them being a Neuropsychologist who specializes in TBI. But yay for having smart friends, they have been such a life saver through all this for me and my millions of questions. A true blessing and support system for not just me but my husband too.
I was in a coma for a week, in that hospital almost a month then sent to Providence Portland inpatient rehab for almost another month. I will get more into this story later. But good news, because of when I broke my back I learned to ride smarter. I invested in an expensive helmet with MIPS and that probably is why I am ok. I also had on all the protective gear, except a neck brace that day. I still wonder if that would of helped me or made things worst since my neck was ran over and carotid torn. Not one thing happened to my back or other bones. I would love to say it’s because of my chest protector, leg braces and elbow pads. I learned if I was gonna ride after my broken back I was going to invest in my gear. More on all this later but this is the short story that got me to where I am today with a brain injury.
The new Jessy!
My name is Jessy, I am 39 years old. I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and ex wife. I suffer from a brain injury that impacts my daily life. I am not very social, I struggle finding words to say, I’m smart but I feel dumb, I am a survivor, I am strong, and I don’t have any excuses!
I am a public transportation rider, I no longer drive, I am sober, I was sober before my accident too which the doctors said my health really helped my recovery. I love to camp and love to travel. I take it easy, I’m not full of energy, I love my Peloton bike, I walk all over and I have learned what it’s like to not drive and don’t have a license. I don’t ride dirt bikes, and I’m ok with that. I got to travel all over the world and ride in other countries both street and dirt and feel very lucky I was able to do all I did. My dream was to race motocross and I did, I finished a full season at Woodland and had started Thursday Night Motocross and then I was injured. Thursday Night Moto was on my list and I may have not finished it but I got a few races in. And for being an older mom racing younger women and girls, I wasn’t bad.
See I just was telling you about the old me and I was supposed to be talking about the new me. That’s one of my hardest things. I don’t do a ton anymore and struggle mostly with my identity being taken from me. So I am a friend, wife, mom, sister, daughter and I am just a little slower than I once was. But if you didn’t know me before, you probably can’t even tell! The invisible injury thing. And I look fine, and to most I sound fine. You have to really spend the day with me to see the differences.
I am still on this new journey of finding my new me, who I am and adjusting to my life really slowing down. And that’s ok. I have a life to slow down, I’m getting older and I feel like my husband and good friends can relate to this version of me a little better.
I haven’t been told by my doctor that I can work yet. But I got a job. And it was so hard but I did it! I can’t wait until next month to tell her all about it, I have a sheet typed up to hand her since I won’t remember it all. How do I know I can’t work if I haven’t tried? I got an entry level job at the local trauma hospital. I’m so excited. I don’t know what I know, so entry level is perfect and they do all the things I’m passionate about. Helmet safety and education, distracted driving education, victim impact panels for DUI offenders, senior fall prevention and more. And they totally get me and my TBI and are working with me and it could lead to some amazing things for me if it all goes well. How do I know if I can’t work if I don’t try?
This is all part of the new me. Learning about myself, seeing what I can and cannot do or need adjusted to be able to do. Because I can do anything, just some things need a little adjusted to be able to do it. I won’t do some things, and that’s a personal choice and me looking out for me. Like yes I can ride dirt bikes, but that’s not worth the risk to me and my family so I choose not to. I have let go of who I used to be, and I am ok with that. It has been the hardest journey so far in my life, I have learned from so many life changes that it’s ok and I will get through it. First my divorce, breaking my back, then getting sober, then breaking my brain. It has really shown us who’s in our life for the right reasons and given us so much more time with our closest friends.
I have lots of everyday struggles, but I also have lots of tools in my pocket I have learned from therapy. I go back to Therapy this month since I never got to finish it thanks to my insurance refusing to cover it after 45 visits which was like 6 weeks at a brain institute rehab. So I will start again, graduate this time and do anything I can to make sure I get the best chance of recovery and rehab possible.
I am a Certified Health Education Specialist with degrees in Community Health Education and Health Sciences. I have 14 years of experience in the medical field. I have lots of experience and knowledge, but I’m not confident in all I know and am starting over and just started an entry level job in a local Trauma Hospital for Trauma Nurses Talk Tough. Let’s just say it’s humbling but I’m so thankful for the opportunity.
I have accepted who I am now. My husband has been beyond amazing to me and with me. We were only married 10 months before our life was thrown this huge curve ball. My husband has given up so much for me, for us. I’m so thankful to have a partner like him. I’m still me! I’m still fun. I’m still determined. I’m still happy. I’m still a good friend, wife and mom. I just have some struggles and everything is a little harder now. I’m strong, I don’t have excuses for shit, I am determined and will make life the best I can no matter what crap comes my way. And I couldn’t ask for a better partner by my side, family and friends.
I am Jessy. I just am a little slower now, a little more tired and sometimes I drool 🤤 thanks to my bottom lip still being numb from surgery! But I’m still the bad ass I once was.