My Journey with ABI

My name is Judy Johnston and my ABI story begins seven years ago. When it happened I had spent most of my adult life as Judith A. Johnston, a professional, a Licensed Employee Benefits Consultant and Vice President of a Life Insurance Brokerage. It took many weeks of being in hospital before I came to understand that I had been a victim of a car crash. The injuries I sustained have left me with Acquired Brain Injury, impaired vision, recurring back and neck issues, loss of hearing, the loss of my sense of smell and balance issues. 

It has been, and continues to be, a long journey to recovery, but I now call myself a survivor of a life altering event. Inside I am still that Judith Ann Johnston I was before the accident, and I am grateful for her qualities and strengths that have come through as I slowly make my way down this road I call my “New Normal”.  

Judy's Blog 

Making Scents of Being Back in Bermuda

I have always believed that a person has to be able to breathe in the essence of Bermuda to know you are here. On this trip I have come to learn that it does not have to be true.

I lost my sense of smell as a result of my TBI. During my first time back to Bermuda, 18 months after the accident, I grieved the loss of not being able to take in those memorable aromas that always greeted me when I landed in Bermuda, a combination of the perfume of its flowers, salty sea air, and the musty, earthy scent created by the humidity. Those wonderful smells were always my signal that I was back in Bermuda, my home away from home.

Last week my husband and I flew to Bermuda to celebrate our 10th Wedding Anniversary, my second visit back since the accident. As we disembarked the plane, not having a sense of smell quickly reminded me a hole had been left where smell once played an important function in my life. I am no longer able to grasp how to pull whatever remnants, from memory, of a once strong and viable olfactory explosion that always seemed to welcome me back to the island.

That was until the second morning of our holiday. I was sitting, alone, out on the balcony of our room when I began to feel, see and hear other elemental essences of Bermuda as they enveloped me. They came in the form of feeling the breeze on my skin, my face being washed over by the warmth of the sun shining down, watching twitter-pated sparrows settle on the railing looking for bread crumbs, and listening to the unforgettable calls of the kiskadee’s . These were all things that existed on each of my previous Bermuda visits but which I somehow took for granted. Excitedly, I am now experiencing them in a new and welcomed way.

Instead of focusing on those losses I have been forced to accept as part of this new journey, I have found that there are other ways to help keep those memories alive. It is a demonstration that if we lose one sense through TBI our other remaining senses will heighten. We just have to be open to how our world changes and, by accepting those challenges, be able to change with it.

Posted 261 weeks ago

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