Before we began our TBI journey with our daughter, Lucy, she was a sweet and sassy 7-year-old little girl with a smile that brightened the room. In one moment, all of that was taken away and our whole world was turned upside down.

She could’ve died that day. Lucy fell 6ft 6in off a water slide while swimming at a friend’s pool. As she fell, she reached out to grab the rail, causing her body to turn and her head to hit the stairs before she slammed into the concrete. Thank God she did! We spent 6 days in children’s hospital with very little answers as to what our future would look like. The day we were discharged we went home unprepared for the journey which laid before us.

“You see one brain injury you have seen one brain injury”; I can’t tell you how many times I have heard those words. After a year of hearing them it only brought me more frustration as we watched her struggle. Our happy go lucky little girl was expressionless, in pain, moody, and there was an emptiness that filled her eyes. There wasn’t any laughter or running around the house. The lights were off, the house dark, and quiet whispers, as Lucy and her little brother played with legos.

We made 3 hour trips for occupational and physical therapy.

We went to the eye doctor in hopes to find answers as to why her eyes hurt. We changed her diet. Did you know MSG can slow down the brain from healing? No, we didn’t either. We cut sugar and increased protein. We tried medications which came with their own side effects.

I made a promise to Lucy one morning after a neurologist accused me of having munchausen by proxy or Lucy possibly having munchausen, that I would not stop seeking answers to help her.

Just when my husband and I were at a complete loss, we found someone who could do biofeedback therapy with her. I felt so hopeful the first few months, but I never will forget the day when the gentlemen doing the treatments looked at me and said, “It’s just going to take longer than we thought. It’s just that significant of an injury”. Oh, how those words stung. The pain I felt went deep to the very core. It wasn’t the first time I had heard those words, but I wasn’t expecting to hear them again. He continued saying, “But, I am not giving up. I am hopeful this can help her”. He was right, and a couple months later she began to smile again!

July 15th was 4 years. As much as our world was turned upside down that day it has also helped me to understand my own struggles. I have had multiple concussions. I never understood what was “wrong” with me. In the midst of searching for answers for Lucy, I found a new understanding of who I am. All the struggles like losing my debit card, forgetting where I put my keys, or even as far as my struggle with suicide after the last concussion. I found a new level of grace and understanding not only for Lucy, but for myself.

We, as a family, learned how to adapt to our new life; there were lots of hills and valleys. Lucy has come so far! We are still working on her recovery. Unfortunately, a brain injury is much more complex than a broken arm.

Our journey is not over but we are one step closer.

Stacie Gillespie

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