At age 27, a lightning strike reshaped Jennifer's world. After being paralyzed from the waist down and suffering from nerve problems, Jennifer embarked on a courageous journey to navigate life again.
A little bit about Jennifer
I was 27 when I was struck by lightning. It was horrific. I was paralyzed from the waist down and over a mile away from any help.
I remember everything up until about an hour and a half later, when I was carried to an ambulance by volunteer firefighters. I don’t remember the next 6 days. I had to relearn how to walk and talk. I kept losing my words, not knowing what to say. I would just say something like, “That thing, the THING, just the thing, there, just, need!”
Even after I relearned how to walk, I had a walker and had to take a break every 10 feet. It was so embarrassing.
I went from being a person with a Masters in International Politics and a great federal advisory contractor with a blossoming career to being someone who couldn’t function.
Challenges that remain
Ten-plus years on, I still have issues. I can’t feel parts of my leg. I get these shocks in my head, these shocking pains in my body because my nerves are still regenerating. I can’t find my words sometimes. I feel like I’m not describing this very well either, but I keep pausing, waiting for the right words to come, and they don’t.
Another token from the accident is that I can’t function when there’s a big thunderstorm. I have hidden in the back of stores or offices where people took pity on me when I couldn’t leave due to a storm. I have hidden under my desk at work and asked people to walk me to my car for fear of being struck again. This is a tricky season for me to write my story as thunderstorms pop up all the time.
The importance of raising awareness
Raising awareness and getting the information out there is so important. I remember being so embarrassed. How could I explain all this to people? They just see the outward effects. And, so I avoided talking about it.
There is a huge stigma associated with brain injury. At SameYou, we hope to normalise brain injury and help survivors feel supported so they know they haven’t lost the person they were before. Telling your personal story is a powerful way to normalise the issues that many are faced with following brain injury.