GIVING MY ALL
COMMUNITY STORIES | 2.9.2017 | BY CHRISTY TOLEDO
My accident happened on February 5th, 2012 after my bartending shift at the Blue Martini in Orlando, FL late one night. I was driving on my way to a friend’s house in Tampa, FL who I was temporarily staying with at the time. I was told that my car veered off the interstate and flipped five times, my body was found 50 feet from it. I’ve tried very hard to discover how my body made it that distance from the car, and who found me, but I still don’t know. The accident report didn’t say much.
I received a phone call from a sergeant eventually who told me I was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center unconscious when my trach and feeding tube were implanted, but they didn’t expect me to make it. I was in a coma for five to six weeks after my car accident. I woke up with a traumatic brain injury, liver laceration, lung confusion, subluxation to my neck, amnesia, epilepsy, a fractured lumbar spine, and a fractured pelvis with pins implanted. The pins were removed a few months later. Talk about a painful surgery.
Healing is an ongoing process, but for me there are some specific things that have helped along the way:
- Keeping track of everything to care for my daily hygiene. Listing these things with a dry erase marker on my bathroom mirror used to help.
- Recognizing what I’m not supposed to say. Deciding what TO SAY, what NOT TO SAY, and WHEN to say WHAT. Isn’t easy to do and I still haven’t mastered it.
- There are things I’m supposed to talk only to certain people about, and some things I should keep to myself.
- When I’m being upfront and honest with someone, I can’t assume whatever I’m saying or doing is right, just because in my head, being truthful is “the way I’m supposed to be”. Believe it or not, oddly enough, that isn’t always the case! Learning how to RECOGNIZE which is which is vital.
- Don’t believe what everyone says. Do your own research. Discover your own truth.
- My doctor’s names/locations/their specialties/prescription list with dosages and directions.
- Know who I can talk to with the confidence that I'll be given honest feedback from them.
- What prescriptions must I take daily, how many times a day, how many pills in each dosage, and how to stay on a schedule with my doctors so I don’t run out of my medications.
- How to keep myself on track. I try and find simple ways to include all things I need to do, my appointments, yoga classes, homework, social life, fitness, etc.
- Figuring out the most effective ways that can progressively help manage my pain.
- A therapist is a must have. Someone I can tell everything to and have it kept confidential.
- I must constantly fight hard to make each of my days better. That’s the way it is. Accept it, don’t give up, and keep going.
- YouTube and the Word synonym tool are necessities I can’t live without.
- Keep the alcohol to a MINIMUM. If any, but not drinking AT ALL is the best case scenario-by a long shot.
- I’ve been working on how to stop talking out loud as much while being overwhelmingly passionate about things.
For me, moving forward is about resilience. Why? I’ve learned that being resilient to words people say about, to, and against me have subconsciously built up an ulterior strength within me. This strength is like a shield that gives me the power to just keep going. To be resilient means to keep moving forward despite having the odds stacked against me. Just to keep it moving and continue giving my all every single day, gripping onto the hope it’ll all make perfect sense at some point. How the next day and the day after that aren’t going to feel the same. Resilience has aided me in finding somewhere I can fit in, and enjoy what I’m doing. Also, being resilient in my situation has created the ability for me to have a positive impact on others. I'm not depressed anymore. I’m quite happy with myself at this point. Now don’t get me wrong, I still have a long list of goals I’m going to achieve, or die trying. Haha, that’s the fight in me talking out loud. Resilience has abetted me in accepting the new Christy you could say.
Vinyasa yoga has helped improve my pain and flexibility a lot. I’m sure my sanity too. I haven’t tried much meditation yet, but I plan to, although I tried a breathing exercise on Kevin’s Instagram last night and loved it! I want to get good at it. I don’t know why, but when I start feeling fatigued or when I just want to write my mind on paper, sitting by the ocean really helps calm me. I think I’m a bit hyperactive, but I’ve noticed when I wake up and go straight to the gym, get on the treadmill at 3.4 speed and just go for an hour. It really helps motivate me about my day and somehow makes it easier for me to fall asleep when I hop into bed. I also participate in Vinyasa yoga, instructed by Di, only 2 times a week hosted at Suncoast Fitness in St. Petersburg, FL. It has helped build my strength, improve my flexibility, and ease my thoughts to a noticeable degree.
As I move forward in this journey and look to the future, I’m planning on one day starting a YouTube channel and raising money to develop an app for TBI survivors. Like a life coach in a sense, and hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to teach survivors how to use it, or make it very simple and self-explanatory. It would also be nice to make hospitals aware of the app one day so they'll be able to reference it and help others who have been affected by brain injury.