This is my story along a challenging path, that was far from my original travel plans, and yet, I got to go anyways!
My journey unknowingly began in 2020 when I resigned from my corporate job to live a life of travel, diving, and adventure. It would be a sabbatical of sorts for a year, maybe two. Along with some global travel, I planned to hit all 50-states to dive and coordinate cleanup efforts as an Ocean Ambassador for the Inland Ocean Coalition. Only the world had other plans. Within days of leaving my lucrative job, COVID-19 not only shut down my adventures, it also locked me down with my daughter, grandson, and estranged spouse. It was time to slow down and form lasting memories as I helped watched my little grandson grow, while his mom grew and completed her CNA. My spouse and I became closer friends, and even ventured in on property together after losing all our stored belongings in a garage fire later that summer as we were both independently out trying to salvage a bit of our travel plans. Thirty-years of our lives – up in smoke! Then, November 6, 2020, I experienced blunt-force trauma to the head that knocked me into darkness. All the result of a harmless looking SCUBA diving mask! Nobody was around to see it happen and when I got up, walked over to tell my dive buddy we should call DAN for advice – I just stood there confused. I had no idea why I was standing there nor what was so important for me to tell her. Within less than a minute, trauma induced amnesia set in, and I literally forgot it ever happened. In my mind I justified it as having a “blonde moment” and was just checking to see if she was ready yet, why else would I be standing there? She was ready so we went SCUBA diving as planned and with no recollection of whacking myself in the head moments earlier. For 6 agonizing months, I tried to navigate a broken medical system chasing the unknown. I felt horrible – but WHY? In February 2021, before I knew I’d been hit, I hit myself again after kayaking when I lost my balance, fell into the water and the lifejacket I was wearing deployed and ripped the Velcro on the left side smashing my sunglasses into my head breaking them in the exact spot I was already unknowingly injured. While this second blow hurt like hell, I didn’t think much of it at the time since I already felt so horrible. Finally, in March 2021 after an MRI, some of my concerns were validated when they discovered a hematoma and cyst like tissue below the skin on my left temple. After an injection dissolved the hematoma, my memory slowly and traumatically started to return as very real nightmares. Once I recalled the injury, my then neurologist informed me that I sustained a concussion and now that the hematoma was gone, I would feel normal in a couple weeks and could resume SCUBA diving. While that sounded fantastic, it was so far from the TRUTH!
The first injury
In the works...
The second Injury
Kayaking in my SCUBA dry suit might have paid off! I was trying to stay active and push through whatever was ailing me. Hiking wasn't working! I was too dizzy, too exhausted, it was just too difficult! So, one day we decided to try kayaking thinking it would be a little easier for me, which it was........ until the very end when I lost my balance, fell backwards into the water and the old boating, water-activated lifejacket I was wearing deployed, ripping the Velcro on the left side smashing my sunglasses into my head breaking them in the exact spot I was already unknowingly injured. While this second impact hurt like hell, I didn’t think much of it since I already felt horrible. I did make sure my biopsy incision hadn't rip open.
The tall tale as told by the father of my children.... “We get back to the ramp and your mother falls into the water overturning her kayak. She scrambles to her knees and "POW" the life jacket inflates. She then stands up and "POW" the Velcro on the cover lets go and the lifejacket smacks her on the head. It's almost 4 hours later and I'm still laughing.” We still laugh (about the incident, not the injury)! What else can you do....
Two days later, I interviewed for a job at Hoodsport 'N Dive and started the following week. They had no idea the pain I would be in or the challenges to follow, and neither did I.
Follow Me.... First, as I navigate my brain injuries!