This is actually happening features real experiences that often include traumatic events, please consult the show notes for specific content warnings on each episode and for more information about support services on.
For about three years, I felt like my brain was in Saran Wrap, it just felt like I know, I know that, but I don't know the answer. You're just on all their.
From wondering, I'm with misalign. You are listening to this is actually happening. Happenings, volume for crash. Episode 177, what if you woke up two months later? Agent Clarice Starling is an icon, the screaming lambs, the moths and that basement, and on Thursdays she's back in the new series, Clarice on CBS. One year after the events of the Silence of the Lambs, Clarice is haunted by the horrific memories of Buffalo Bill and is underestimated by her team.
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So I have mild cerebral palsy, I grew up going to physical therapy about two times a week just to try to walk normal, but I mean, I had a great childhood. I grew up in Texas, my home life was all right. My dad was a fireman and my mom, she stayed at home with us. I played sports all growing up, I had good friends and and I pretty much loved life, loved everything and everybody. When I was seven, because of their cerebral palsy, sepi, the success of the policies, I had a spinal rise out of me when I was seven, just so I could walk were normal.
They cut nerves in my back so I didn't walk on my toes, my tippy toes, which is what I did before the surgery. And I had to relearn to walk. And you're wanting to be normal and what normal like everybody else, so previously I didn't have to think, OK, this, but goes here and this guy goes there, you know, it just comes natural. But, you know, it was a process. I use a wheelchair for a while, and I felt cool being in a wheelchair, but it's because I wasn't in it forever.
If, you know, like, hey, I'm going to work until I learn to walk, there's a little bit of hope. And when you're seven wheelchairs or cool. You know, I still walk a little funny, but I still played basketball growing up competitively, I wasn't the fastest kid, but I hustled really well. Cerebral palsy didn't affect me at all. Mentally, it was only physically. Thank heavens that it didn't affect me mentally because I had a physical ailment.
I read a lot of books and I was big on education and being smart. But, you know, whenever you're younger and boys like, oh, this point, maybe you don't mind me because I was just a little bit I have a little bit of a limp. So you always think about that kind of stuff. But life is good.
Whenever I was a freshman, we moved city, so I changed schools, so I was a new kid and it was a smaller school and they had a bunch of clicks. I was so afraid, so nervous and didn't have any friends. And I wasn't used to not having friends. And the whole sleep thing came back around. So I had a bit of anxiety and depression the first year there because I had zero friends. But I also didn't put myself out there much.
I was just very quiet. When you're 13 years old, 14 years old, if a guy doesn't like you, the cutest guy that you've ever seen, maybe there's a line because I want funny. So everybody wasn't knocking on my door to date me. It hurt my feelings a lot, but I mean, I did have some boyfriends that overlooked it, so once I made friends at the new school, I made a lot because I would make friends with anybody.
I especially like to make friends or just say hey to the quiet kid that never talk because that used to be me. So once I came out of my shell, it was great and ultimately, of course, now I don't care. It's like this is how I am. Take it or leave it, you know? But I just took a little bit of time. Then I went to college, I was a little bit of a workaholic, but I had a lot of friends would go out every weekend and had a little too much fun sometimes, but I dated on and off, you know, love them and leave them.
Nothing ever serious, really. My life was pretty good, as pretty carefree, I had a job, I had friends, and there was it was a pretty carefree existence. The job that I had, I was marketing for a music school, so every weekend we're out at live music events. So it was July 2015 and I woke up that morning and I remember I want to get breakfast tacos because breakfast is delicious. We had an event that night, music promotion.
I was glad I could live that type of thing. I was up there with everybody, you know, taking pictures. And once I have videos and pictures and everything, I love to go home. I was telling everybody by making sure I had my keys and my phone, so I got into my car to leave the event and the next thing I know is when I woke up two months later. I opened my eyes and I didn't know where I was, I didn't know what, but I was in and everything was just creepy.
You know, the best way to describe it is when you're little and you spend the night with a friend and it's your first time ever spending night with them and you wake up and you don't know where you are or who you're with or why until, you know, everything clicks. That's exactly what I felt like. But it didn't click. So, OK, I'm in a hospital bed, OK? Why am I here, have I gone crazy that they put me here or did something happen?
I was like looking all around and I use my contacts clothes. I could tell, oh, jeez, you're in the hospital. You could tell that it was a hospital, but I didn't know why I was in there or who had put me there. I had no idea what happened or how long I'd been there and just everything scared. I can hear nurses or people outside the hospital room talking, but I didn't know how to get their attention, so I was like, shit, what do I do?
I noticed that I had a brace on my neck, and so I was like, OK, something happened to my neck. There was also a happy birthday banner on the wall. And I thought, it's not my birthday. What's going on is that for me? And then for some reason, I started thinking, I'm 60 years old. I'm 60 years old. Do I have a husband or have kids? I was afraid my mom and dad weren't alive and I also I was very scared because I've seen movies that you wake up every day doing the same thing over and over, and you don't realize you wake up every day.
So every day is a new day. And then I was like, oh, crap. Is that is that what what's happening? And I've been here for 30 years. For some reason, 60 years old, I was certain that that's how old I was, it didn't even come across like, oh, am I sexy? No, you're 60. You know, you've been here 30 years, but nobody cares about you. Nobody had no idea.
Nobody talks to me or tells me what happened because they're tired of it. Oh, that's just her. She'll go back to sleep and tomorrow it'll be the same thing. So that's what I was really scared of. But I heard those people talking outside and I wanted them to know I was awake. And so I tried to scream as loud as I could and because of the innovations in my neck and had paralyzed my vocal cords.
And so I talk like I was like and screaming as loud as I could, but nobody could hear me. And so I thought, OK, what can I do now instead? And there was a cop like a plastic cup on the bedside table. And I thought, oh, this will be a good idea. Maybe I can throw it down hard and they'll hear it and come in and then go, Oh, she's awake. But I did that and never make any noise, pretty much none.
So my final thought, I saw a mirror and at this time I'm just terrified that I'm 60 and that I have grandkids that I don't know about. And so I was like, oh, there's a mirror. OK, I'll just get up, get out of the bed and walk over and see. And I was picturing myself, like being really old and having long gray hair, sort of like the Titanic lady. So I scooted myself out, which was very hard because I could use my ear and move my arms and legs and sort of push off.
But they had no muscle mass. And so whenever I tried to get off the bed, I almost collapsed. I put my legs down and almost fell down, but I caught myself and realized, OK, you can't walk over to the mirror to see how old you are or to tell people that you're awake. And so I scooted back with my arms, and I'm proud of myself for this realisation. I was like, oh yeah, old people's hands look old so I can look at the back of my hands and I'll see about how old I am.
So I looked at the back of my hands and I figured, no, they look about the same, the old as I could be is about three to four years older than I remember. So that's good. And at that point, I was exhausted because, you know, two months of sleep wasn't long enough. So I went back to sleep. Today's episode is brought to you by upstart last year showed us that you never know what life is going to throw at you.
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When I woke up, one of the nurses had come to take my vitals, I think she realized, oh, jeez, she's awake. And I said, what happened? And she explained, you know, you've had an awful car accident. You broke your neck and your hip and, you know, you have a bad brain injury and kind of explaining everything that happened. And I asked her, is everybody OK? And she explained, it's only you and the person that cut me off or whatever, but he got away.
So everybody's good. And now you're good and you're safe and you're in the hospital. That was a relief, and I asked her, I said, are my mom and dad alive? And she said, yes, they were up here earlier. So that was a huge relief. When you have something, an experience like that, all you want your mom and just like everything will be OK. She didn't want to tell me too much to overwhelm me.
I had no idea that I'd been out for two months. I just wanted her to stay and answer questions, but I didn't even know what questions to ask. I just I just wanted to know everything. And that's why as happy birthday out there. Oh, well, you've been out. And she wouldn't tell me how long, I guess not to break out of that would have been cool because I thought it was 30 years. But she was like, oh yeah.
Your birthday, your birthday happen. The whole time I was so worried about my dog and if she thought that I abandoned her, especially when I knew I'd been out for two months, I was like, no, I would never do that to her. But the nurse was just trying to cheer me up. I guess everybody knows your mom or your dog and you're OK.
And of course, she knew that my family and practically lived at the hospital the last two months. So I wish I had an acute coma. I broke my C two and C three in my neck and I broke my collarbone and my hip and had a TBI as well. From the time the people had called nine one one to the time that the ambulance, the paramedics had gotten to me, it was eight minutes and 32 seconds. So I hadn't been breathing for that long, if there's no oxygen to your brain that can kill brain cells because of that, they thought I was pretty much a goner.
Since I brought my C two and say three and my neck, they were pretty sure that if I did ever wake up or recover, you know, that I would be a vegetable or paralyzed or both. And that terrified me at first, you know. Well, so I'll never walk again. And they didn't want to tell me. Yes, but I did want to tell me no. So they just kept. Well, we'll see. You know, I don't like that answer.
What I found out about the car crash was that somebody ran me off the road and my car had a pole and proceeded to break my neck and my head, but it was only me that was hurt because the other guy took off. You know, I broke my neck and I broke my hip in the car wreck and I had a Glasgow coma scale of three, which literally means it's a miracle if you wake up and you're OK. The crazy thing is my sister showed me a picture of the car afterwards, and it didn't even look like a bad accident, my body took the brunt of the damage.
My car looked fine. It was wrecked, but I wasn't awful. What really sucks is I didn't have insurance at my job. And because of the cerebral palsy, I had a preexisting condition and insurance was pretty impossible to get because of that. I was going to have to go to physical rehab, but I was going to have to be a charity case. Because of that, I thought, oh, yeah, I'm ready to go, I'm fine, I'm awake, I'm fine, let's go get me back to walk.
And I know I will, you know, because I've done it before when I was seven, I can I can do it. And they would say, well, we don't know. And I felt like they weren't letting me go to inpatient physical rehab, that confused me because that's what I needed and wanted to do. And I had gone to therapy my whole life. Because of that, I started thinking all the nurses were out to get me.
You know, after I'd been awake a couple of days is when the paranoia got crazy that they actually weren't good. They were trying to keep me there or send me to a nursing home, unable to walk for the rest of my life so they could take all my money, which I had no money. You know, I was going to be broke from this accident. But in my head, that is what they were doing. So every time a nurse would come in, I'm on to you, is what I thought in my brain.
I also I had double vision where when I looked at one part of the wall where the cork was, well, I didn't have double vision anywhere else, but that place where I looked and it was where the cork was. So I thought, they're trying to make me look stupid. They have two clocks over there and they have them opposite times. So every time they would come take my vitals, I would always ask and say thank you and yes, ma'am, and all that, and I would say, what time is it?
And they would look up at the wall and I would see what they were looking at. And I would know, OK, that's what time it is. And see and my paranoid brain, this is how they're going to make me look stupid. She can't even read a clock, you know, but they're really just flipping it back and forth. When my mom would come, I would, of course, and this voice, I would say, hey, mom, there's two cops up there, I'm OK, I'm OK, get me out of here.
And she would say one clock and think I'm insane. And you're clearly not OK. You're everything but OK. And makes no sense now, but at the time, I was certain I was certain about how they're trying to make me look stupid to put me in a home to take all my money. I couldn't trust any one, and the only person I felt like I could trust was my mom and I could trust my mom either after I tried to explain it to her and they had gotten her on their side.
So I felt so lonely and had no idea what to do. From my hospital bed, I could see on the other side there was a bus and a bus stop that would pass every once in a while, and all I did was just lay there for hours a day and think about how I was going to get out of the situation. So I had the great escape plan in my brain. So I waited until the right time, I was like, OK, great, I'm going to go down the hall with my walker and I'm going to go across the street, I'm going to get on that bus and just tell them to drive.
And I was like, OK, you've got this. You're going to go, go. And so I tried to get off my bed and I was on the edge of the bed and I had the walker at the edge of the bed and fell hard, like on the ground. And of course, my gown is like half open and the bed starts beeping. So they came in. They're like, oh, were you OK? Because I wasn't supposed to get up.
I was like, oh, yeah, I was I was just going to the bathroom. You know, that whole day and next I was like, man, I miss my chance. There's absolutely no way I could have walked five feet, let alone, you know, down the hallway, get an elevator across the street and all that. For them, I was just the nicest person in the world and somebody would say, oh, yes, ma'am.
No, ma'am. Oh, sorry. You know, in reality, I hated every last one of them. Today's episode is brought to you by Madison Reid For decades, women have had two options for coloring their hair outdated at home color or the time and expense of a traditional salon. Take coloring your hair at home to the next level with Madison Reid hair color. You can do it at home delivering gorgeous professional hair color to your door. Starting at twenty two dollars, you can find numerous Madison Reed client testimonials commenting on how their new hair color has improved their lives.
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I went to inpatient rehab and that was great. That's where I wanted to go from the beginning. But since I did not then turns out to wait for a charity bed to open up. And to this day, I still love it. I miss it. Everybody in there is jacked up for some reason, we're all messed up and we all want to be there, but we know we need to be there just to get back to normal. I was the only one that was a younger person, but they made me feel so welcome and you become so lonely after being in the hospital that I loved inpatient rehab because I made a lot.
I mean, granted, my best friend was seventy seven years old, but I love him to this day. And my dad would come every day at lunch and that was glorious because I had that to look forward to. The most difficult part for me was being hard on myself, and when you're lying in the bed and you know you're not going to walk, so why would freaking try? Some days it was getting out of my bed, you know, and not being depressed and just like, screw it, I'll just stay here.
And I had a little thing that I would have put on my wall that said, you got this. And like, OK, yeah, you got this. Like, even if you don't, you've got to tell yourself that. Aside from the physical aspects, I had a lot of mental issues that I was dealing with, and that's because of the dramatic brain injury. Everything within the first week of, you know, being awake, I couldn't remember the people they came so they would have to actually ride on the white board if they showed up, you know, and I would be like, oh, yeah.
So if somebody came in, I would spend a really long time looking at their face because they wouldn't click. It hurt some people's feelings because they would think, well, New York, remember me? Because I've been your brand for eight years. Because of where my brain injury was, it was on the parietal lobe and I don't remember faces like if I had met somebody two days ago, you know, I saw them again today. Typically, you would go, hey, how are you doing?
But I don't remember that I've met them. I didn't remember anything and so and I didn't have dreams for two years after the wreck, it was just blank. Just when you go to sleep and you wake up and you had no green, you know, just black, white out, you know, and then you wake up. For about three years, I felt like my brain was in Saran Wrap, it just felt like I know, I know that, but I don't know the answer.
You're just not all there. Outpatient rehab. We had worksheets that you would get in the high school, like if you go to the store, you're going to buy milk for a dollar 15, but you have a ten dollar bill. You know, we learning that kind of stuff. It was there. The knowledge was there. And our brains, we just had to reignite it. I kind of know anything, I was like a blank sheet of paper, and you just have to learn everything.
Even they were teachers and they know outpatient rehab. They would teach us how people ask questions, like if they say, how are you? How are you? That's a cue to they're asking a question. You have to start with really baby things just you're having you have to like learn how to read cues. And, you know, it just takes time and hanging around people to really understand that it's like you're just a little kid and going through how to live life, you know?
They would ask me food preferences, do you like so into I don't know, I can't remember. I didn't know what you know, what my favorite movie was, what I liked and what I didn't like. I knew that I had eaten something or seen something, but I. I couldn't remember my feelings about it. With traumatic brain injuries, your your taste buds can change a little bit, which is interesting stuff that I didn't like before, sushi and all that kind of stuff.
I'm obsessed with it now and before I wouldn't touch it at all. Even things like not having a filter, you say things that are funny, but like, hey, that's not something you should say or a funny sexual drug or something. And it took a little while to develop that filter because it's like a little kid. You just say what whatever comes to your mind. When I left the hospital, it was crazy, I had to go and live with my mom again because I couldn't really walk and I still have some anxiety and almost panic feelings.
If I am in a store with, you know, a lot of people around the is crowded, you know, just because it was sensory overload and I was almost having a little bit of a panic attack. It's been five years since the accident and I had to work back up. I was slow. When you first get back to walking, you just you're just slower. I would try to push myself and I would get a job. And it was like, oh, yeah.
And I would lose the job and I would be so hard on myself. I was just too hard on myself because of the process. You know, you have to go through it. You know, each year you have to get a little bit better and not rush it. My life is different now, it's more it's more settled down and slow down because before I was just go, go, go. Every weekend I was working or I was out with people.
And I realize all of that is just way too overwhelming. And so those friends that I did have are still like in bands and go to concerts all the time, but I'm just not about that scene anymore. I was sad at the beginning about my former life being gone because I was lonely, people don't know oh, I don't know if she's good enough to ask her to go eat or go to a concert or and so they don't you know, they don't ask you to do stuff.
So it was very lonely. But you can't get mad at people for feeling that way because I want to know I can understand those feelings like what this be too hard for. So let's not ask. Also, I learned to make my own self happy, and I listen to a lot of podcasts and all that kind of stuff, and my mom swears by that. She thinks one hundred percent. That's why my brain got so much better, because I constantly had people talking and all I did was listen to that and try to learn.
My brain wasn't supposed to get much better than a sixth grader. You just got a deal and learn to roll with it, and everybody thinks it's weird for me to say this because it had to have been a horrible experience. And I mean, it was I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but it was also kind of great because you saw people rally around you. You're getting that feeling of, wow, am I must have been a decent person.
There's a change in yourself, like I'm a lot more relaxed now, like I always tell my friends, if I get worked up about something, chill out, just breathe. And it's no big deal, because when I would get frustrated and just pissed at myself, you know, like, why can I do this? I'm never going to learn to walk. You just have to chill. You can do it. Just keep practicing, you know, keep falling.
And don't be so hard on yourself. Just keep on. I was going to a psychiatrist for years and I was depressed a little bit, that common with the TBI and anxiety, she helped me understand just how to handle things and more about my personality to where I would get so anxious on phone interviews because my voice was bad. Then they would ask me, oh, are you sick? And I would just lie and say, yes. And she laughed and said, No, don't say that and say, This is my voice.
Understanding that, oh, yeah, I shouldn't lie. I love going to her just because she helped me understand myself as a person and a changing course because I'm a different person than I was before. Plus, I take medicine for anxiety and depression now, which there if you feel like you need it, please take it because it's life changing. I've come such a long way and my life is wonderful now, I met my husband a year and a half ago and what's interesting is with my boys going on dates, people automatically know like, oh, what is wrong?
Because I would talk like that and I didn't walk that great, but I just kept pushing on. So I had some boyfriends to the time. But he's met up three Harmonie. Heck yeah. But and before this accident, I would have never gone that round it. And it's been amazing. I work and I add up, it is like making motion graphics for a health care company, which is my dream job. I have friends that are chill and more my speed these days and have families and all that kind of stuff and certainly down a lot, but it was it was often the best.
I think I know that I can handle stuff, I can handle it. I'm so glad that I'm on this side of it and not my family side of it where they didn't know, oh, crap, is she going to wake up? She got ever going to be able to talk or work or move or, you know, I'd rather me be in that position because I know. Oh, yeah, I'll do it. You know, it's not a warrior.
And I think the Spanish resort to me, you know, when I was little gave me that. Oh, no big deal. It's going to take a couple months. What I'm going to learn to walk and I'm going to be back to normal.
I'm kind of hard headed.
I push myself a lot. And I think that it's taught me that I'm stronger than I thought I was. It slowed me down and told me what's important. I think it's made me a better person. I'm definitely a more empathetic person than before the accident. Maybe it's a little bit of what I needed to really understand what I'm grateful for. And I'm not grateful for what happened because I would be silly. But in a way, if it had to happen, I cool.
You know, I'm happy with the outcome. Life is weird and it doesn't mix, it's not fair. I believe before was oh, yeah, if you try really hard, if you work hard and everything will come up roses, no, that's not how it is at all. Life isn't fair. People are like everything happens for a reason, but no, I don't believe that crap and it sucks, but it's how you respond to it and that makes you a stronger a better person in the end.
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