Thursday, January 16, 2020

2019 - A Year Without Surgery

Hello friends,

9 years ago on January 14, 2011 I was air evac'd to the trauma center at UVA hospital after suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury... I was in a coma and not expected to wake up. These situations in life make you realize how important the good times are, to never take them for granted. I am happy to be with my family and attending college at GMU which would not have occurred if i had not received the aid that was given to me.  Thank you all who have supported me, I hope to repay you in the future.  

I am lucky now to have a LOT of good times.  We've been reflecting on the good times from 2019.  Here are the highlights:

First I am ALWAYS grateful for a whole year without Surgery and a Full Head of Hair!! Thanks Doctor Kumar for fixing my Noggin!  I am still Kicking!!!
Being unable to get on horseback for so long was difficult, as my family is oriented around horses and having grown up riding. I am finally able to get on horseback with the time that has gone by following my injury. Of course I’m going to wear a helmet and make sure it fits perfectly well enough and I am on a good horse.

The Dolphin Quest Bermuda Internship was a great experience to be able to go out of country and live more on my own. Helping with my mother’s business is something that I have longed to do for a large period of time. I was able to fly Internationally by myself, which may seem like an intimidating experience but it brought back memories of all the traveling I had done before my injury. Looking forward to the next time that I am able to go to one of our Dolphin Quest sites is a thought that has been lingering on my mind since arriving back home.  

There was a screening of our documentary film, "Music Got Me Here", at the University of the Pacific.  I had the opportunity to travel to California with Tom, Mom and Toliver for the screening at the first music therapy program in the United States. 
The film also screened at the Bryn Mawr film institute in Pennsylvania!
It is a big step in the right direction to get my learners permit but the journey has not been completed yet. I am still working toward my full drivers license so I can chauffeur Toliver around.
Summer at Brightwood included zip lining with Austin and Jeanne, raising pumpkins and time with my Bro in the pool.
Austin, finally proposed and … Jeanne said, “YES!” I am interested in what it will be like to have a sister but as I have heard from friends, all things come in good time. I am looking forward to it.
The Family's trip away to Scotland was wonderfully planned and executed to give us a relaxing time away from the hustle and bustle of home. Mum and I got to mountain bike in the Scottish Highlands and we all spent a lot of fun time with my soon to be new sister, Jeanne, including looking for Nessie on Loch Ness!
The Forrest Allen Financial Aid Fund helped raise $217,000 for A Place To Be participants that are unable to provide music therapy entirely for themselves. This makes me feel as though my story and example can lead to better things in the future for others if people can learn from my mistakes without having them occur to themselves.
In the Fall, "Music Got Me Here" screened at GMU. It was good to be able to share some of my life story with the students at GMU Life program who have all had to face their own challenges in life.
My George Mason Soccer Special Olympics team worked hard together and won the Gold medal for our division at Virginia Beach. Since he has attended every game Toliver got a gold medal too. I love being able to play a team sport again!
The Canine Companions for Independence magazine, The Companion, shared my brother’s and my story in the holiday issue this year and put our photo on the cover. CCI is the organization that gave me my dependable, wingman service dog, Toliver, after sustaining the Injury. Toliver has been a key player in my recovery!  Austin and Jeanne are co-raising Dune for CCI with Aunt Tricia.  To help more people have the chance to receive a CCi service dog, Austin and I participated in CCI's gala fundraising event in Orlando Florida. 
December brought my friend Willow to Middleburg for the Community Center Christmas Ball (great music & dancing!) and the awesome APTB Holiday Recital on my 27th Birthday!
Having spent Christmas in the hospital and even in surgery previous years, it was sweet to spend this Christmas at home with my family.  I know for sure now, the best place in the world is wherever your family and friends are. 
Wishing everyone a safe, happy and fun 2020!  Remember, No matter what... Don't look down. Never give up. Never Surrender!  When you get knocked down, reach out for a hand to help you up.  And then be sure to reach out and lend a hand to someone else.
With Love,