I finally started vestibular and speech therapy last week. I have mixed feelings towards it because part of me wants to believe the people who constantly tell me that I’m totally fine because I can walk and I can speak… but based on the headaches caused by simple tasks in vestibular therapy, and my low test scores (particularly in attention and word recall) in speech therapy I am not alright and just because my injuries are invisible doesn’t mean they are not interfering with my life.
Yes, I can walk around and I can speak. I’m incredibly thankful to have those abilities when doctors had told my parents I would likely have some sort of paralyzation, but I, like anyone injured in anyway, still want to live out my hopes and dreams and those hopes and dreams are bigger than the most basic human functions.
Early on in my recovery I was faced with a difficult question… will I be able to finish school? This question was posed to me by some of the few people in my life who understood the repercussions of my injury. While trying to figure out how my next few years could possibly play out I was also dealing with other people who were supposed to also be close to me wondering why I didn’t go back to school as soon as I was out of the wheelchair. These people did not care about an injury they could not see and they often insinuated that I was lucky to have not been “as injured” as Ben. I was being pressured to do something and prove I was as healthy as I looked as soon as my bones healed. I knew I was in no place to go back to school full time for engineering so I even considered not finishing school and learning a trade. These were things I was dealing with in September… only a little over 2 months after the accident when I was still having trouble even remembering the day before each morning I woke up.
I am incredibly blessed to have the parents I have because they made me wait to make any choices and told me to stay out of school for at least a year (like the doctors all said). They advocated for me and made phone calls for me (I still can not make phone calls) and got everything set up so that when I do go back to school I can do it on a trial bases at first and we can see if I can handle it. I’m supposed to be attempting a few classes this summer, and I’m terrified of the judgment from my incredibly intelligent peers and professors when it takes me longer to process things and get work done, or when I have to put sunglasses on inside because of headache from the lighting, or when I’m just having an off day and don’t want to talk to anyone. I am incredibly fearful of failing or just simply not learning as quickly as everyone around me.
When I was younger I was always one of those students who could just kinda skate by on minimal effort and procrastination. I feel entirely aware of how impossible that type of study habit will be for me now and it makes me anxious. I’m happy to have my speech therapist by my side as I tackle this first challenge though, she is incredibly supportive and has already reassured me that everything will be okay and she will help me if anything causes me trouble. I wish I had had her with me the first nine months of my recovery, but at least she is here now and I am finally, with her help, on a path to getting my cognitive functions back to where a normal 22 year old engineering student should be.
All my fears aside, I know that becoming an environmental engineer is my dream. I have know it was the path for me since I first discovered the idea of an urban vertical farm and learned about food deserts and food insecurity. I want nothing more than to come out of this on the other side and beat all the odds by not only being a female engineer, but being a female engineer who had a brain injury and fought through to still make it happen.
Ladies, there are so few girls out there graduating with engineering degrees but you can do it! Don’t let anyone tell you that you will never be good at math, don’t let anyone tell you you won’t be able to handle the workload, don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough… if you are creative and want a fulfilling job that has enormous possibility to give back to the world, at least explore some of the possible engineering careers out there to see if it’s something you want, and if it is don’t let anyone tell you you can’t. I did horrible in math in high school, I started college as a film major… I switched to Polisci, and then added environmental engineering… anyone can do it.
Weight: 191.7 lbs
Waist: 37 ½ inches
Stomach 43 ½ inches
Hips: 42 ¼ inches
Thigh: 26 ¼ inches
Weight: 183.3 lbs.
Waist: 36 3/4
Stomach: 41 3/4
Hips: 42 1/2
Thigh: 26 1/2