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Unmasking Brain Injury

Mija’s Story

Having a brain injury is different. I do not understand my body. My body is always in pain. I have to work extra hard to walk, balance myself and see. There is no vision in my right eye. The eyelid does not open much. The left eye has limited vision. It has an ulcer from exposure over the cornea. The eyelid never fully closes. I used to be independent. Now, I need to rely on others to assist me.

I was driving to my elementary school at 7:30 a.m. The staff had a half day to work since winter break was the next day. A man driving extremely fast hit me head-on. It was discovered later that he was over 2 times the limit drunk. This was his 3rd DUI offense.

This mask tells my story about me after my accident. My life has changed from before the accident. I am sad that I lost my marriage and career. I cannot jog outside and I have impaired vision now. I have to work hard now in everything. I have a motto: I AM POSSIBLE! I have always been positive. It has taken me a long way. The tear drops represent my anger and sadness and confusion.

The boxing gloves represent that I am a fighter. I do not give up. I do not quit or stop. I am proud. I am proud of my degrees. I am a physical education teacher with a Masters Degree and Education Specialist certification in education. I am also proud of my family. My parents work hard to take care of my personal daily needs. My parents push me to be better and are my cheerleaders!

The softballs with the red hearts and initials represent my 3 daughters. Eryn is 22 years old, Brynne is 18 years old, and Taylor is 13 years old. My mom takes me to my daughter’s softball games. My daughters check on me and visit me for supper on Wednesdays. My daughters do not stay with me. It makes it hard to communicate with my daughters.

The picture of the hands and arms holding each other represent the emotional and physical support from a team of people. I have lots of support from my family, co-workers, friends and members of the church. The support given to me makes me feel very special and loved. The band-aid represents the damage I have to my frontal lobe and my short term memory.

I am proud of Mija’s Law. It was signed by Governor Brownback. It means that the penalty for an individual driving under the influence causing permanent disability or death increases the prison time and convictions from other states can be included as before it could not.

God has watched over me since my accident on December 20th of 2013. Great and loving God. He sent angels since the accident to watch over me. Without the first angel, I would not be here. Thousands of people have prayed for me since the accident and continue to pray for me. They watch my progress by following me on my Facebook page.