** I received a copy of this book in return for my honest review. All opinions are my own. **
Some people are afraid of spiders, some have a fear of heights, even roller coasters. Now, I don't care for spiders, especially since they seem to think I am quite delicious! I don't mind heights and I have a serious addiction to roller coasters. My biggest fears has always been anything related to brain injuries, head injuries, TBI, and amnesia. Usually that one of my children are involved, sometimes myself, but, either way, it has become something that eats at me and causes more trouble than anything. (Imagine being one of my kids and falling or bumping your head or even thinking about skipping steps!)
I think this goes back to a movie I watched once about a girl in the 1800's who fell down the steps and suffered from a serious brain injury. She started to hear voices and had multiple personalities and she wasn't the same ever again. In fact, she ended up murdering her entire family and was placed in a mental institution for many years. But then I think this fear started before all of this and I think I can trace it back to some books and biographies I read when I was much younger.
I don't know what it is but something about the possibility of a head injury causing you to be completely different and not remembering your own family or even having the same interests that you once had. Then, I think I think to much and I end up reading stories online about TBI and the horror stories and how it affected people and I can't help but feel horribly sad for these people. (I have Tripp Halstead's Facebook page set in my notification alerts)
I was scrolling through a list of books on a review list one day and, Lost In My Mind Recovering From TBI, caught my immediate attention and I applied to have this opportunity to read and share my thoughts on this courageous story. I didn't even know I was chosen as one of the reviewers, so, about 5 days later, a package arrived. I didn't expect this book and much to my surprise, there it was!
I was sitting on the porch when I opened the padded envelope and I was just mesmerized. I think I sat and stared at the cover, at Kelly Bouldin Darmofal, for at least 5 minutes. I was a bit relieved when I saw her face and her eyes are very bright, alert, comforting, but also, very wise beyond her years and you can tell she has a story to tell. I can't explain it, other then her photo has this peculiar way of saying, "Look at me! I have something to tell you!" and so, I opened it up and started reading.
I am a pretty fast reader and sometimes this aggravates me because when I am reading something that I am extremely interested in, I don't want it to end. Then it does. Then I'm stuck trying to decide if I should read it again or should I just hope for a second part or cut my losses and do something productive like, finish spring cleaning lol! I read this book in a couple of hours that Saturday afternoon and much like a fairy tale, this book captivated me in such a way that I will not be forgetting anytime soon.
Just like Kelly's eyes, the inside of this book grabs you and doesn't let you set it down. I even tried, a few times. I actually made a pot of coffee with this book in my hand, opened and reading and I only looked away when I had to pour the water in.
Lost In My Mind, tells the story of a 15 year old Kelly. A typical teenage girl who loved her friends, her family, cheerleading and was on her way to grab some food at Burger King, one night with some friends. According to Kelly, she was supposed to die on September 17, 1992. Fortunately, she didn't. However, her friend who was driving that night, turned to talk with another friend and ended up hitting a telephone pole. Kelly was in the passenger seat and hit the right frontal portion of her forehead, on the dashboard. This was her only injury in the accident. But, because she was struck on the right side of her forehead, her brain had a whiplash reaction, causing injury and bleeding to the back of the left side of her brain. She also suffered brain stem trauma.
The first half of this book is written by Kelly's mother, Carolyn Bouldin. who started writing a journal of sorts, for her daughter, so that she could have some memories as she got older. Carolyn's recollection takes you through one of the most horrifying things that a parent should never have to go through and she does an astonishing job. From the night of the accident that almost took her daughter's life to the very end, she covers everything about Kelly's accident, her feelings, the hospital, doctors, diagnosis, nurses, the people they met and ultimately, Kelly's new life after she was finally able to come home and start her recovery.
There are times when you are reading that you just want to reach through the book and grab some of the people they run into, especially at the schools. I have some not so keen experiences with schools and have had my fair share of fighting for my children's rights, but, nothing like what this family had to go through! You will go from angry to sad to wanting to hug her mom and tell her everything will be ok and yes, I suggest having a box of tissues nearby. You'll need them.
Kelly writes the second half of the book and starts around the time she returns home, after the accident and now has to not just struggle with being a teenager but with being a teenager with a traumatic brain injury. She goes into detail with everything and answers pretty much every question you may think of if ever you were interviewing a teenager or young adult with TBI.
It is painful to read, just knowing that this is a true story and has actually happened to another human being. But, there are good parts and good endings and you will be amazed at Kelly's strength and determination and what she has overcome. (and continues to.)
One part in particular, just broke my heart... I'm not going to lie, a lot of her story broke my heart but something as simple as a teenage girl who just wants to be able to shave her legs by herself, but can't. It's the little things that are missed sometimes.
It's very hard to imagine having to deal with any of these problems. Being to honest and blunt for some friends, friends not visiting as often, having to relearn everything, even walking. These are all things that a high school girl should not have to do. But, as with everything else, Kelly went above and beyond everybody's wildest expectations.
Lost In My Mind is an extraordinary look into the life of somebody who is recovering from TBI. You will feel so much joy when they find that Kelly is coming through and even more delight when she begins writing poems which offer a riveting look into Kelly's mind.
One of the things that really concerned me with this family's battles, was how Kelly and her family were treated at school and with cheerleading. I understand this took place in the 90's but even then, I would have expected the blatant discrimination to take place. I guess in a way, this was possibly part of the silver lining, since Kelly went onto college and became a teacher. (We need more teachers like her in our schools.)
This is a story of triumph, dedication, strength, sorrow, friends, boyfriends, school problems, being disabled, fragmented memory, fear, hope, and faith.
I would recommend this for anybody who has a friend or family member who suffers from TBI, teachers, doctors, nurses, anybody who could use some strength and wisdom.