One cold and sunny afternoon in February of 2008, I received a phone call that would change everything. A friend’s sister had been killed in a car accident that morning, and the funeral visitation was being planned for the following day. The next thing I knew, two weeks had gone by and I was on an inpatient rehabilitation floor. I had been in a really bad accident on my way to the visitation and was life-flighted to Atlanta, where I had extensive bleeding and swelling in my brain and was not expected to survive the night. Thankfully, I had an amazing recovery in the PICU and was transferred into the Comprehensive Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit at Scottish Rite just a few days after the accident.
It was here that I was introduced to someone that changed the course of my life, a child life specialist named Lauren. Spending time with her was what helped me feel like a 16-year-old girl again - something I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to feel again.
Her influence pushed me to look into the field of child life, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that this was the career for me. When I was discharged from the hospital, I still had a lot of work left to do to get me back to school. I went through the Outpatient Day Rehabilitation Program at CHOA and was helped in so many ways during that time. It was because of their help that I was able to return to school, graduate from high school on time and attend the University of Georgia. I graduated form UGA last year, just six years after my accident, and am in my first year of graduate school getting my master’s degree in the child life program at UGA.
My gratitude for CHOA extends beyond any words I could begin to come up with. I am delighted to be doing a child life practicum at CHOA in the fall because of how much appreciation I have for this place. Without the experience of my traumatic brain injury, I would not be in the field I am in today. While I wouldn’t choose what happened to me, I also wouldn’t change it.
Thank you to CHOA and all of the wonderful people who have worked so hard to make it such an incredible place over the last 100 years!