Going Back to School After My Traumatic Brain Injury
Kelli Gary talks about deciding to go back to school after her traumatic brain injury and her mom who supported her even when school didn't work out the first time.
Actually--yeah--the fact that I wanted to go back to school and school was so far away-- my mother living in Chicago, and I was in Florida. That, that-- she was very frightened by that. But the tabs that--the things that she did is she had my friends keep an eye on me. So she contacted my--you know-my roommate, and she was--like-- "Call me--you know--the minute you see something. Let me know. Call me if you see anything. Even if Kelli doesn't say anything, let me know." So she had them watching me. She called me every day. She tried--you know--to check in on me with--I mean, if I needed money--because I always lost money, I lost keys, I lost everything--she would just send it to me. She just gave me whatever it is that I needed. She was there for me. She was right there whenever I needed her, even when I didn't have the pride to go to her. In actuality, when I did decide to leave college, when I tried to return, and I was doing so bad, it's because my friends picked up the phone and said, "Mildred, come get her. She's not doing well. I don't know what she's telling you, but she's not doing well." So my mother jumped in a car, without me even knowing, and drove down to Florida. I opened the door. She's like, "Get your stuff. We're going. You tried. It's been 2 months. It's not working." And I had experienced so much trauma with losing my friends and endangering my roommate and all this stuff that I wanted to go. I just didn't want to say it, that--because I felt like a failure. So she gave me that opportunity. She let it happen. And that might not be the safest thing for some people. Some people might have more of an injury that would not allow them to do that. But just--even if you can just modify things in your own area, where you can keep even more close tabs on the person, but push them to do it--to go out and do the things that they think they still can do, I think, would be helpful.
Posted on BrainLine December 2, 2009.
Kelli Williams Gary, PhD, MPH, OTR/L is an assistant professor in the department of occupational therapy at Virginia Commonwealth University. She sustained a severe traumatic brain injury in 1991.
Produced by Vicky Youcha and Brian King, BrainLine.