LEARNING TO LOVE MYSELF
COMMUNITY STORIES | 10.12.2017 | By Jesse Laico
A friend of mine was attempting to drive drunk and I tried to stop him by jumping on the side of his moving Jeep. He hit a bump and I fell off and the result was a torn calf muscle, severe bone bruising and swelling throughout my knee, two basilar skull fractures in the temporal bone region, subdural brain bleeding and bruising, major swelling, and air pockets applying pressure to my brain. I was taken home and my parents rushed me to the hospital when cerebrospinal fluid began leaking from my nose.
At the hospital I received 6 staples in the back of my head to close the gash and spent 2.5 days in the ICU before being admitted to the general care ward. I was discharged on my 4th day in the hospital with a walker and extra strength Tylenol. I thought I would be fine dealing with the pain since I’ve been dealing with headaches and migraines for 6 years prior to the accident thanks to a large number of concussions. After one night home, the pain I was experiencing was unbearable and after calling the neurosurgeon, they were afraid the bleeding had started again and was readmitted to the hospital for another 3 days (turns out the bruising had increased in size and the Tylenol wasn’t enough to help the pain).
The next 3 months were brutal. My previously diagnosed depression and anxiety had gotten much worse. I felt hopeless for so long, was scared to be alone, and I was angry at myself for allowing this to happen. I hurt not just myself, but my family too and I felt like an incredible burden on them. I hated that. I hated what I had done. I hated who I had become. I was antisocial and became more introverted than ever.
However, with the help of family, friends, and professionals; I learned that it was important to love myself. That I shouldn’t blame myself for what happened and that everything happens for a reason, whether or not we understand it right away. It’s important that we don’t look to place blame or guilt anywhere and that we have to just learn to live with what has happened, to accept it, and to use that experience to better ourselves. We have to learn to learn to love ourselves and I think that’s our biggest challenge sometimes. However, when we finally do, things just continue to get better from there.
I started working at my job again part-time in December and I have been back to work full time since March (where I received a promotion in May) and have recently gotten back into coaching college club lacrosse at Quinnipiac University where I started the program as a freshman back in the fall of 2012. I see a neurologist regularly to monitor my progress and recovery as well as receive treatments for the chronic headaches that I experience. I lost a lot of weight (almost 12 lbs) in the first 3 months after the accident but since February, I have been working out 5 days a week and put on almost 20 lbs of muscle since then and I’m feeling healthier than ever. I’m also back to being social and making new friends everywhere I go and just doing my best to make the most of every day because the doctors all said that I am lucky to be alive and that everything could have been snatched away in that one moment.
LoveYourBrain helped me to find a positive outlook on life and understand that I was not alone in my struggles - that other people were feeling the same as me and in many cases, were facing more. It also got me into yoga, which I started when my leg healed up in January and that was very beneficial to my mental wellbeing. I have a LoveYourBrain Christmas ornament and candle holder on my nightstand next to a stone with the serenity prayer etched into it; all to remind me of how far I have come and how I’m not alone.