The purpose/mission of the National Brain Injury Foundation is to provide social support groups, advocacy, and information to people with brain injuries and their families.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Stefanie's Story

An experience that will stay with me all my life is one that started when I was six years old. The experience started with symptoms ranging from headaches to blurred vision and vomiting. I believe that the cause was a bee sting that I had gotten during the summer. After several weeks of this, my parents got worried and we started a quest to find out what was wrong with me. After several opinions we found Dr. Herbert Laurie and he told us that I might have a cancerous brain tumor. I was admitted to Crouse B. Irving Memorial Hospital in Syracuse, NY on October 14th 1976. I was scared to death, I didn't know what was going on, my parents were sad and all I knew was that I didn't feel well and my head hurt. When I found out I was going to have an operation I was terrified. I didn't even know what one was. They gave me lots of shots, poked needles in me and gave me IV's. I felt like a human pin-cushion. The spinal taps were the worst, I would have to lie completely still on my side on a table while doctors stuck a long needle into my spine to draw out fluid. But the nurses were nice. They gave me an orange and a syringe to stick so I would know what it was like to be a doctor poking the patients.

I had lots of visitors. My mom's friend from work came to visit me and she brought me an orange colored dog. They brought gifts into the hospital where my mom worked and when I got home, after three craneomies and one surgery to put a shunt in me from my brain to my stomach to remove fluid, there was a huge box of presents for me form every one of my mom's friends and even her employers.

It was hard especially for my mom to know her little girl could die if something went wrong. Waiting during the operations was the worst for my parents, just sitting there not knowing whether their little girl was going to live or die. It was hard for my sister too, being only three years old. Not knowing where her big sister was or what was happening to her. The only thing she had any idea about was that she was the cause of her sister's pain.

After my last operation in November of 1977 I started radiation treatment, and a few months later, chemotherapy. I was on chemotherapy for 10 years. Now I have been in remission for 27 years. I'm so glad to be here. I could have lost my life or movement of my limbs but I am just as normal as I was, a normal human being and I am so glad.

By: Stefanie Tyler