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 

Finding myself going backwards...

In those moments of darkness, when I find myself having awoken in the middle of the night, the string of words and thoughts swirling inside my head flow smoothly and succinctly. As I talk to myself in silent sentences I am perfect and whole. No stuttering, my words link smoothly, and I continue to breathe easily as those thoughts flow. During the daylight hours it has been another story as I once again find myself struggling to communicate to those who enter my everyday world.

Having previously written about my summer and the relatively brief but disruptive impact of changing medications, I had failed to understand, and even acknowledge how it had impacted my speech. Yes I heard the staccato of my stuttering as I searched for increasingly more and more missing words. I heard my repeated apologies of “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” and those anxiety driven “okay… okay…okay’s” and yet I didn’t quite grasp how I was so easily falling back into those chaotic speech patterns that were as a result of my Acquired Brain Injury. That was until a recent joint session with my OT and Speech Language Pathologist brought it out into the forefront. 

Well before that meeting, my RSW, Janet, was constantly telling me to breathe as I talked. I would look at her, breathe, then continue on with my broken speech patterns. She worked hard at trying to get me to focus on what I was saying. We even spent an enormous amount of time doing meditations to temper the impact anxiety was having on me. And to work on my speech she had me reading a funny book about a group of senior “wanna be” bank robbers out loud. I knew what was happening… but then again somehow I don’t think I did. Sometimes it takes a team to intervene and help you get back on track! It was a “eureka” moment and I am grateful to have them all on my side.

As my mood improves, and those anxiety gremlins begin to slink away into the nether regions of my world, and I remember to breathe while listening to the string of words and sentences I am producing out loud, I know I am back on the road to recovery!

Posted 110 weeks ago

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