The Next (Dance) Step



Community Stories | 5.7.2015

Accidents happen, and here is the story of mine (briefly.) As a multitasker by nature, I thought nothing of standing on the tippity top of a ladder with an iron in one hand and a scraper in the other. I was determined that wallpaper was coming off. But accidents happen, I lost my balance (although I have no memory of it,) and fell off the ladder to the cement on my head. Thankfully, someone else was in the building, otherwise I would have bled to death. The rest is all a dream, some parts more of a nightmare. Waking up in the hospital thinking (believing) that I was there to nurse my roommate back to health, and not even knowing I was there because I was the patient.

The reality is that recovery is really an ongoing process. It’s a journey where it’s hard to know what to expect, and where you don’t always know what comes next.

Forget about the "science" of recovery. We know that a skull takes a full year (or more) to be strong again. The issues with my TBI recovery are the emotional battles and the never-ending fear of re-injury. It is almost as if there is a record playing in my head, saying,

"I have a brain injury."

Wait, what? You can't hear it playing? Clearly, that is the other big issue for me, that this kind of injury is an individual battle.

Staying ACTIVE and AWARE are critical for the injured AND for their caregivers. I find comfort and growth in talking about my injury, it helps to give me more of an acceptance of it. There is only one direction to go, and that is forward. We need to train ourselves into believing that everyday is better and brighter, that this is the new mantra that needs to be playing on the record in our heads. That is both my challenge and my goal.

One of the ways I’ve worked on my recovery is through the power of dance. Nothing has been harder since my accident than being active and moving my body. The fear of another injury was stealing my joy to live. A friend convinced me in September of 2010 to step on the dance floor at a fitness class, Zumba®. It was that class that really helped reopen the windows of happiness, health, and rhythm in my life. Dancing is so good and healing for the brain, hearing the beats and moving your body to match them. It is a challenge, but an achievable one with practice and diligence. Zumba® has been the best thing that has happened in my daily life since the day of my TBI, October 17, 2001. It is important to find something that you are passionate about, and chase it. Don't stop until you can call it your own.

Through these years, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that survival is about LIVING. So how do I live after my accident? I live like every second of my life means something... because it does. I have always been the kind of person that feels more alive when I am giving back, so this is the way I try and go through life. Someone once told me shortly after my accident, "Oh Hannah, if you had fallen on your heart instead of your head, you would have bounced back up." I found that to be a telling statement to my character, and I find that being involved in good causes and campaigns that make the world a better place helps me be an even better individual. Just like sharing my story makes parents and/or individuals see that there is LIFE after TBI. And in my case, a damn full one.

This year, I am hosting a Zumba® fundraiser on May 11th to help support our second annual LoveYourBrain Camp at Zeno Mountain Farm! Your support will help fund our campaign to connect, educate and empower survivors of Traumatic Brain Injuries. Class will be at Talent Skatepark and Shop Inc., so please wear sneakers, comfy clothes, and bring WATER! For more information, directions, and time, please check out the event page here:  

The suggested donation is $10 at the door! If you cannot attend, but would like to donate, here is the link to my fundraising page. THANK YOU!


Love and positivity flowing your way, 

Hannah Deene