My son and I are both experienced snowboarders; it’s something we like to do together. We attended a week-long camp on Mount Hood last summer. The first four days were so much fun. On the fifth day, another snowboarder - not part of the camp - lost control and plowed into me: He was going about 50 mph. It was like getting hit by a car.
I was airlifted to OHSU, where at the OHSU Trauma Center they discovered I had bleeding on the inside of my skull: a traumatic subdural hemorrhage. Dr. Raslan, a neurosurgeon at the OHSU Brain Institute performed brain surgery (a left fronto-temporo-parietal craniotomy) to fix the bleeding. Dr. Kim was my neurologist and Dr. Ham was the trauma attending physician. I was recovering well, until my sodium level dropped and OHSU’s Rapid Response Team was called. I had experienced three seizures, had no gag reflex, had lost movement on my right side and I wasn’t able to speak.
Then once I could speak, I wasn’t making any sense; I had expressive aphasia, meaning I couldn’t talk or write anything intelligible: They would ask what my favorite ice cream was. I wanted to say chocolate, I tried to say chocolate, but it came out as “herm-o-fillot.” With supplemental sodium, my speech returned and I was able to make a full recovery. I was on anti-seizure medications for several weeks afterward, but got off them last fall. Since then, I have felt completely myself, and - with the exception of head stands - have resumed all normal activities.
I attribute my recovery largely to having excellent care at OHSU. I was so fortunate to come here. The first time I met Dr. Raslan, he told me I’d make a complete recovery. He was honest but also comforting, and I appreciate that. I am forever grateful to one of the nurses there, because she helped me take a shower. After a week in the Neurocritical Care Unit, that felt so good! Even the food was terrific; I ordered from a menu, and when the food came it was like something you’d go out and buy in a café.
Since my surgery, I’ve returned to snowboarding. I was a little apprehensive at first, but it felt great to be back. A lot of people expected me to quit, and I just couldn’t do that. Thanks to the grace of God, the prayers of many, the coordinated care and individuals at the OHSU Trauma Center and the OHSU Brain Institute, I now can do anything I need to do.