In 2009 I was 26 years old and a radio presenter at OFM in Bloemfontein, a town in the Free State. Life was beckoning with wonderful possibilities in the entertainment industry. I had already finished a diploma in Television and Film Production; I completed a degree in Journalism at the University of Pretoria and then I did a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). I felt like I could conquer anything life threw at me. Life took me up on the challenge.
On the 22nd of October 2009 a truck slammed into my car after skipping a red traffic light and because of the horrific impact of the collision I sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Due to the extent of my traumatic brain injury I suffered inevitable damage to my brain. Brain damage. Such heavy words surrounded in a cloud of dark preconceived ideas. I, for one, I used to think that everyone who suffered brain damage was immediately robbed of their IQ and instantly stripped of all logic. I thought this unavoidably changed their personality to a large extend and that their behavior became suddenly explosive, impulsive and irrational. Now I hang my head in shame for harboring such appalling assumptions. I am embarrassed to admit that before I sustained a traumatic brain injury, I was rather oblivious about what it could entail if the brain got severely injured. But imagine if you suddenly had to relearn how to eat, speak and walk at the age of 26. Quite a reality check that put things nicely into perspective. Makes you grow up fast. Made me realize how much I took for granted. Too much.
A nasty, dark stigma clings to the term traumatic brain injury, as well as the consequent brain damage, due to unawareness and awful preconceived ideas. This is mostly because one is usually only concerned with any disability when a loved one is directly affected. I want to try and change that. I feel the need to. And I believe you can help me.
A million little things can go wrong when the brain breaks and through this site I hope to enlighten you about the occasionally alarming and challenging consequences that could stem from a traumatic brain injury because I feel a mind shift is needed worldwide in order to cultivate a change in attitude towards disabled persons so we can become a diverse yet integrated human race. During my inspirational talks I try to shed some light on the often heavy topic of traumatic brain injury and brain damage and in doing so diffuse the distasteful stigma that so often clings to brain injured people. I want to tell you about all the things I experienced – harsh words and inconsiderate behaviour – since I have become dependent on a wheelchair in order to improve your understanding of how to behave around and treat any disabled person. I hope this knowledge will create understanding which will lead to compassion, respect and much needed consideration. But I have experienced so much beauty and love that I know how wonderful one human being can make another feel. The world needs more of that.
The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind. Maya Angelou