My life changed on July 2, 2013. A careless driver crossed a busy intersection at high speed, striking my vehicle on the driver’s door, with his Ford F150 truck. Two weeks later, I lost my speech mid sentence, followed by severe cognitive processing impairment. These symptoms regressed to include loss of balance, mobility, motor function, depth perception, severe noise/activity sensitivity (Hyperacusis). I could not hold a thought, follow conversation, drive or function independently. I was virtually disabled and unable to leave my home alone. I had to shut down everything. I did not know what was happening to me!
Before that fateful day in July, 2013, I was a busy entrepreneur with a growing home-based coaching and consulting practice. Owning a thriving business allowed me flexibility to plan days with equal balance of work and play, mid-week “me” days, time to tend my garden, meet with friends for lunch, or attend networking events. I also enjoyed long walks with my dog everyday, morning and evening, my relaxation time between work tasks and daily exercise. Gardening, reading, singing harmony in a band and with choirs, traveling, attending retreats, were my other free time passions.
These all disappeared from my normal reality, replaced by brain fog, poor concentration, fatigue loss of balance, spatial and depth perception issues and debilitating headaches.
Daily Mindfulness, Meditation practices and Brain Gym became my daily therapies.
MY JOURNEY TO RECOVERY
This was a 3-year journey of resiliency-building challenges; a gradual living into a “new normal.” I was seen by 15 therapists and attended speech therapy twice weekly for 6 months. I was consistently mis-diagnosed, told “There’s nothing wrong with you. You are just faking symptoms and malingering!” I felt angry, dismissed, mis-understood, unheard and powerless! I just wanted to get my life back! I was exhausted and confused but persistently, at times obsessively, searched for answers, treatment and care support.
I was diagnosed with Vestibular Hyperacusis (a common, yet frequently missed concussion complication), in March 2015. I began weekly therapy with a Brain Injury Assist Coach and a Graduated Recovery & Return to Work Program. I finally had a Brain Injury Advocate, hope and a way forward! In September 2016, I returned to work two days per month and gradually began rebuilding my business.
Five years post injury, I have a new voice, an evolving story, a merging message, information, access to resources and medical care supports. I still manage Post Concussion Syndrome and Vestibular Hyperacusis – a form of Hyperacusis that also affects a person's Vestibular (balance) system resulting in nausea, dizziness and the sensation of falling, in addition to sound hypersensitivity and/or Tinnitus, but I am not defined by Post Concussion Syndrome, which often leaves invisible ongoing triggers and complications, years after a concussion injury. The reality is my life has changed. It has not only changed for me but for those around me, who walk the ongoing journey to wholeness with me. We all live a "new normal"
WHY I DO WHAT I DO NOW
I am a brain injury survivor and Transition Coach, who still manages Post Concussion Syndrome, I feel uniquely positioned to coach other brain injury survivors, their loved ones, family caregivers, friends, to find their “new normal”. There is nothing mild about a Mild Brain Injury nor the recovery to wholeness and It takes a village. As a brain injury survivor:
There are many resources available for brain injury survivors, from medical journals to health care agencies and brain injury clinics. The challenge is sifting through the information to find the treatment and resources that relates to your situation.
Today, my journey with brain injury and Post Concussion Syndrome has provided with insight and brain injury education. This awareness, insight and education has evolved and merged into the Sunflower Transitions Brain Injury Management & Transition Program. The Sunflower Transitions Brain Injury Management & Transition Program offers the client integrated knowledge acquired through my personal journey, business life experience and qualifications as a Transition Specialist Coach, passionate advocacy, promotion of greater brain injury awareness and a Guide to survivors who need a road map to aid their recovery, or who feel lost in the system and in their transition to a new normal. Every survivor deserves a to feel purposeful and whole in their “new normal!”
Vinny Gibson is a certified life coach specializing as a Brain Injury Transition Coach. Her experience includes: Professional Development Trainer/Presenter/Speaker, Workshop Facilitator/Designer, and Toastmaster. As an avid community volunteer, she was a 5-year Board Member of the Cochrane Chamber of Commerce, Chairperson for Chamber of Commerce Small Business Gala Awards Committee, a Cochrane Victim Services Advocate, Cochrane Affordable Housing Committee, Seniors for Kids Board Member, a mentor and tutor for The Bow Valley College Newcomers Rural Workplace Mentorship Program and a Founder Member of The Cochrane Business Chicks Networking Group.