Megan's world was turned upside down after suffering from a brain infection. Despite this, Megan didn't lose hope and courageously fought to regain her independence.
A little bit about Megan
My story starts out very normal. I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in June 2007. I got a corporate job in the beauty industry. I was living my dream. I had my own apartment in Manhattan, a good job and great friends.
The moment when everything changed
It was April 2010, and I was at work and not feeling well. I asked my co-workers if they could answer the phones. I went home and I thought I would feel better in the morning. The following morning, I was not well. There was something wrong with me. I had a headache and I felt confused. I called my parents who lived upstate, and they drove down to my apartment. They took me to NYU Emergency and after hours of tests and scans, the doctors told them I had a tumor on my brain. That evening, my speech became slurred, and I stood up and fell down. A biopsy was done, and I had a bacterial infection from food that travelled to my brain. The bacteria was listeria.
My world was turned upside down. At this point, I could not walk, talk, or understand what was going on.
The nurses and doctors told my mother to take me home with the infusion of antibiotics. I was in a wheelchair, and I would need to get assistance at home. My mother said "No". She was not leaving the hospital. I had physical, occupational and speech therapy every day at the Rusk Institute at NYU. My mom stayed the whole time I was in the hospital. She would not leave me. I developed blood clots in my legs because of the amount of time I was in bed, so I got daily shots in my stomach to help break them up.
I had to learn how to walk, talk and read again
I was discharged in June 2010 and went to live with my parents. At first, the therapists came to my house. I could not travel in a car, the motion gave me headaches. Eventually, I was going from a wheelchair to a walker, to a cane to walking.
There are some things that I remember very well and some not so much. I remember the speech therapist that was sent to my parents' house was called Bob. Bob was very old. The flashcards he had were probably from the 50s. It was not working with Bob, so we decided to let Bob go and my mom would help as much as she could every night after work. We worked every night sitting on my bed and drawing on my whiteboard.
I suffered from aphasia and apraxia. Most people do not know what this is. I could not read or pronounce multi-syllable words. My mom got elementary workbooks to help me learn everything again. Numbers, letters, math and my ability to read and write were all gone from my memory. She would label things around the house with cards, such as the toaster, stove, chair and table to help me associate the word with the object. There were times I would get depressed, but she made a promise to me that I would move back to the city in 2 years and live as an independent woman like I used to be.
My hospital speech therapist said it would never happen, but I proved them wrong.
My college friends would come and see me. It was so good to see them. They lifted my spirits.
I decided I wanted a French Bulldog. Once I got my PICC line removed (I was on intravenous antibiotics for 3 months) I could get a dog! This was something to look forward to in the fall. I found the puppy I wanted. I didn't realize then how this puppy would light up my life and help me so much with my recovery. She was my everything and I named her Chloe. It is amazing how an animal can change your life. I had her for 9 wonderful years.
I became more independent, but I still had more challenges ahead of me
I moved back to the city in June 2012. It was difficult for my mom to let me go, but she knew I was ready. I got a one-bedroom in the Upper East Side by the river, and I loved it. It was just Chloe and me. I was learning to navigate the city in a new way. I still could not read or write. I would always use a credit card because I could not count money. If I went to the store and the amount was not on the cash register, I would tell them to please write the amount down. In the beginning, it was sometimes difficult, but if I didn't understand something or someone talked too fast, I would say, “I have aphasia, could you say that again slower.” People did not know what aphasia was.
My injury left me with no feeling on my right side. It is where the scar tissue is from the infection. I cannot feel when holding a glass, or my right foot. That has not kept me from doing what I love to do like running in my neighbourhood. I started speech classes at New York University in the fall of 2012 which I continue to this day, once a week. It has helped me so much.
I used my experiences to educate speech therapy students
I also have spoken to speech therapy students at NYU, the University of New Paltz, and the University of Virginia. My goal was to let these students know what helped me get better and what did not work. I was always well-received and I enjoyed it very much. I would really like to talk to people about aphasia and explain what it is. It is a condition that can happen after a brain injury like mine or if you suffer from a stroke, brain tumour or head injury. People with aphasia can have difficulty with reading, listening, speaking or writing.
Well, that is my story. You never know what life has in store for you. I am still living in the city, I have a crazy French Bulldog named Ophelia and I have just celebrated my first year of marriage.
The words that I have lived by is “Make the impossible possible” and I did!
Despite Megan’s incredibly tough journey suffering from an infection that spread to her brain, she didn’t lose hope and fought to gain her independence back in a world that didn’t understand apraxia or aphasia.
At SameYou, our purpose is to help survivors feel supported so that, despite suffering from a brain injury, they know they haven’t lost the person they were before.