The Trauma That Changed My Life
Posted on May 17 2019
Written by: Tiffany McCullock
On September 20, 2014 my life was changed forever. My husband Tony was the leader of TLC Riders, a motorcycle ministry of the Lamb’s Chapel in Burlington, NC. They were going on a practice ride for a Breast Cancer support ride we were going to be doing. I had my motorcycle also, but I decided not to join them because I needed to wash clothes and pack for a Fathers heart conference Tony and I were going to. So I left the church and headed home.
On my way home I was in an accident and was found unconscious on the road. We found out that someone saw me but didn’t call the ambulance, he left and told his mom and she called. I was transported to Duke Hospital. I was diagnosed with a Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury. I had three brain bleeds and was in very bad shape, they weren’t sure if I would live. I couldn’t talk and was out of it, only responding to agitation with a moan. I was so dizzy I couldn’t even sit up. Later they put these big, thick mittens on my hands so I wouldn’t scratch my nose , etc. or pull out any tubes or IV.
Tony prayed over me every day, played worship music, sent updates to our friends on Facebook. He took such good care of me that he would tell the nurses when they didn’t do something I needed. He even bathed me when they hadn’t got to it yet.
In the beginning he allowed the Lord who could come in and visit and who couldn’t, due to some who may be too loud, etc. That man is so amazing, such a wonderful husband.
Within the first week, Tony could tell I recognized him but I didn’t recognize my daughter at first and she was worried. After a week or so, I would talk some but not make much sense. The doctors said that if I lived, I would most likely be in a nursing home. My son was in Kansas City doing an internship at the International House of Prayer (IHOP), a few of my friends who’s son was there with Nick, flew him home to see me.
I lost my memory for about 6 weeks, so I only remember the last week I was in the hospital. After 3 weeks at Duke, I was moved to UNC for therapy. It was traumatic, I was so dizzy I had to take Zofran every day. I had to learn how to walk again and they tried to do the Epley exercises to help my dizziness and I flipped out and prayed out loud. I was so dizzy that it scared me to even try those exercises. So, they didn’t make me do it then. I gave them trouble with several things. At Duke they put in a stomach tube because I had some issues swallowing and I didn’t want to eat much. They put shakes through the tube. As my husband was trying to get me to eat, I wouldn’t eat much and later when he tried to get me to eat again, I told him I already ate and gave him a lot of trouble. I argued too much for a good while.
The doctors decided to give me some of my old meds and gave me the full dose, that was a mistake, I totally had a meltdown and started hyperventilating, etc. With a brain injury the best thing to do is to start the meds at the lowest dose and increase it over time. So they did that. It actually took over a year to get to my regular dosage.
After about 3 weeks at UNC, I was released from the hospital, this was such a miracle that I was alive, much less doing as well as I was. I improved faster than the doctors could believe. My hospital records, MRIs said something different.
I was using a walker when I came home and had to continue therapy at UNC 3 times a week. I was still dizzy but it was a little better, so I had to keep taking Zofran. I had to learn how to balance in therapy first. I had to learn how to walk while looking side to side, because when I first learned to walk I just looked down because I was so dizzy. It was so hard because of my balance issues. I did so many different types of therapy over the next year. PT, occupational therapy, memory therapy, etc.
After I first got home, I was still trying to figure out what happened and how to figure out how to live again. I was grieving at how different my life was. I had just finished homeschooling my son and two nephews, thankfully, my son graduated High School before the accident. We had been raising my nephews for 3 years. The younger nephew went to live with a foster parent, as Tony had to be with me in the hospital. Later on, my oldest nephew got an apartment with a friend. After awhile of looking at the walls and tormented by depression, I asked the Lord, why did you save my life? All He said was, it is different. I
It took a year to even figure out my some of my disabilities and even explain them. With a brain injury, the brain heals extremely slowly but as God says, it will always continue to heal, as some doctors don’t even know. I started driving about 6 months after the accident. I also started researching brain injury to find out what I was dealing with. So after about 2 years, with doctors help, research and tests, I realized that I have short term memory loss, muscle spasticity in my right leg, my right hand doesn’t work as well but nobody would notice besides me. I also have Aphasia, where I can’t always find the correct words, I know exactly what I want to say but it’s lost somewhere in my mind. That’s the most aggravating thing I deal with.
With TBI, my brain has to work 3 times harder so I suffer from mental fatigue after about 6 hours of being awake. It makes my memory, attitude, communication worse. The only way to help my brain to partially reset is to take a nap. A full nights sleep fully restores it to my normal. I also have some cognitive issues like processing discussions fully at times, as it is a little slow, so I miss some of it at times. When someone uses an innuendo, I don’t always understand it. I had ADHD and now it’s much worse since the TBI. I also take meds because I have high blood pressure due to the TBI.
God also saved my life because I have a grandson, Logan, who was born April 26, 2018. He knows how much I love kids, as it is one of my gifts and have kept so many over the years. Tony calls me the baby whisperer. I’m actually in good enough shape to babysit while my daughter and hubs work. This is such an amazing blessing that has restored my joy! I can’t do Admin. work anymore for several reasons, so babysitting is what I do best. He’s so good to me.
God has worked so many miracles, and now as I have been healing some, my taste bud issues have improved, temperature control (had hot flashes, feet temperature issues have improved. There are no change of life issues as I was tested) He has brought deliverance from my childhood and family issues through a few avenues. I lead a monthly TBI/Stroke Support Group at church, He has asked me to write a book and so much more. He is amazing and has helped me to accept that I have this TBI and He still has a purpose for me, it’s just a little different. He’s so amazing and speaks to me fairly often. I’m in Awe!