Posts tagged recovery
What My Full Recovery From A Severe Traumatic Brain Injury Looks Like

On Nov. 24, 2007, I survived near death when I was hit head-on by a drunk driver. I fell into a coma, my body was a broken mess, I had to be resuscitated in the ambulance, and I was hospitalized for three months.

But after working hard to heal for over seven years, I achieved a full recovery.

My Whole Healthy | Maggie Yount | Broken humerus | broken bones |motor vehicle accident | Drunk Driver | TBI | Traumatic Brain Injury | Recovery

Not every victim of traumatic brain injury can say that. I think most probably can't. These photos are just a peek inside what my injuries looked like in the early stages of my recovery, and I know that NOT achieving anything close to a full recovery was a very real possibility.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and I hope my story can inspire others and perhaps be a stepping stone to the next level of recovery for anyone who is a victim of TBI like me. Instead of writing about it, I made a  video so I could just talk to you. This is by no means a complete account of what I experienced following the accident, or what I still live with every day. But I think it helps me connect with you in a more personal way and shows a more accurate picture of who I am now.

After making this video, and even trying to write this little post, I know I thought of things to add, and promptly forgot them again. Like exercise (the aerobic type)! That helped me in a huge way. And I forgot to talk about it and only just remembered it now two days after recording the video. So there you go.

We've all experienced trauma, but it's what we do with it that defines us. Watch the video and let me know in the comments how you transform your trauma! Share this post if you found it helpful and let me know if you have any questions. I'm here for you. 

xoxo

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Heartbreak and Healing

* Before anyone thinks the worst, the baby and I are fine! I only just realized this morning how the title and photo could give the impression otherwise *

I struggled with how to write this post this week. I want to say so much but then I second guess myself. I want to share and be totally honest and real with you, but I've experienced some dark, heavy stuff and I get scared of dragging you down by writing about it here, but then it doesn't do you (or me!) any good to just gloss over what's real, even if it's hard to write. The positivity that you see in me is real, that's a huge part of my personality, but I struggle with a lot, too. So instead of just telling you that and moving on, I want to dive even deeper this week than I have so far.

Waiting for my occupational therapist in the rehab hospital.

When I was healing from my accident for the first few years, I yearned for someone who would just "get it." My heart was hurting so much and I was so tired of trying to explain what I was going through all the time, and even my amazing husband who was with me through the entire hospital ordeal had no way of fully understanding the effect the crash itself and the TBI had had on me.

I remember nights where I would cry so hard I would wail and scream to the point I couldn't breathe. I felt like my heart was breaking in half. Once, my husband said to me (at the time he was still my fiancé), "I know" when I expressed how hard it was for me emotionally. But instead of feeling comforted, I yelled at him, "NO! you DON'T KNOW!" and angrily sobbed some more into a pillow. Then I felt really bad for snapping at him but he quietly left the room with an, "ok" and let me cry it out.

I was frustrated and hurting and so desperate to just feel "better" like, YESTERDAY. I didn't know myself and I felt like a huge piece of me was lost, never to be found. I was healing but I still felt broken, inside and out, and I felt like I had been robbed of my joy. The worst part was fully remembering who I'd been before I got hurt and how all the things I was capable of "before" now seemed so out of reach. I felt like a stranger to myself because the new me was so foreign, and unwanted!

Learning to walk with a cane in the rehab hospital, my physiotherapist, Karen, guiding me.

I hated that new, unknown me. I hated myself for  being "weak", sad all the time, and incapable of just bouncing back to "normal". I just wanted to get the old me back and I wasn't willing to accept this person I had seemed to become. I knew I would never be exactly the same but I wanted to be a normal human being again, not this broken, brain-injured girl. I felt so frustrated and impatient and angry. I still wanted to do epic things with my life! To have a fulfilling career, change the world, help people, have a family, travel the world... basically DO IT ALL. I think I set even higher expectations for myself after being injured than I'd had for myself before I got hurt. Probably not the kindest thing I could do for my body that was already doing the best it could...

But with my bar set super high for myself, I worked hard to heal. It was a slow process but I tried everything I could think of and afford. I even used a few sessions paid for by my health insurance to try getting therapy to treat my PTSD and the grief I knew I hadn't fully processed. The therapists I went to didn't help though. One just let me talk, but didn't give me any tools, really, to deal with what I was telling her. And the other, she told me that I should just accept who I was now instead of striving to get better. Cue the raised eyebrows and, "EXCUSE ME?!" that ran through my head.

Learning to climb stairs with my right leg doing all the work. I was wearing an eyepatch when not in PT to help correct my double vision.

I already understood that there were many things that I couldn't change about my body and my life, and I had to accept them. I have hardware in my body that will never come out. I have scars, my brain works a little differently and I need more rest than I used to. I can never run for exercise again. But now I know I can live with and manage those things. I can accept them. What I couldn't accept was allowing myself to slip into a mindset of "this is good enough," where I would just stop trying. No way. I'm a fighter and a problem solver... even to my own detriment.

When I was in the hospital with a feeding tube, I was too brain injured to understand its necessity. All I felt was this awful tube taped to my face, going up my nose and down into my stomach and I hated it. To me it was a problem and it made me uncomfortable, so I figured out a way to fix the problem.

I pulled it out.

17 times.

And when they tied my hand to the bed so I couldn't reach it, I brought my face to my hand and continued to pull it out! Seriously. Even after all those times, I never realized that pulling it out meant that it would have to go back in again. That realization really sucked, every time. But my problem solving skills were intact! Just not that little part of my brain that understood consequences...

I used to wear this face all too often. Frustrated, confused, mad, upset... With time, I learned to move past that and find joy again.

When it came to my recovery though, having something to focus on and fight for was giving me purpose and it's that feeling of purpose that helped me get to where I am now. And now, my focus and my purpose, and many of you probably guessed, is this baby that's growing inside me.

Obviously the baby brings me a lot of joy and has totally shifted my focus away from trying to "fix" the remaining challenges I still face due to my injuries, but before I conceived, I found that giving more attention to my passions and following my heart was creating space for my joy to return. The less I let what "happened to me" control how I felt and the less attention I gave to my "cognitive deficiencies", the more I could do more of what made me happy and gave me confidence. But this whole pregnancy thing is opening up a whole new level of understanding, knowledge and perspective on healing and wellness.

You know what's amazing? Despite the TBI and 14 broken bones, including my hip and my pelvis, I have a NORMAL pregnancy! It's not high risk! I was so sure it would be and I was so scared, but our bodies are AMAZING.  From conception, everything has been perfect. Normal ultrasounds, normal wellness checks, happy and healthy mama and baby. Can you believe it?!  It's teaching me to trust my body and what it can do. Obviously I help it out where I can through food, movement and staying mindful, but it knows what to do and I'm trusting it.

One thing my husband and I are doing before my due date is taking a hypnobirthing course together to help both of us prepare for the birth. Before you get all "oh no she's just going to talk about weird pregnancy stuff now," bear with me because this applies to all of us.

It's actually not a weird woo woo thing (it really needs a new name) and it will give us the tools, knowledge and techniques to have a beautiful birth, without fear. We're aiming for a natural birth and from what I've learned so far is that regardless of how the baby decides to be born and no matter what happens (even if a c-section or other intervention becomes necessary, which were big fears of mine going into it ), the hypnobirthing course will give us the ability to navigate it all without a ton of stress and fear. 

Peace is totally possible.

So how does that apply to you? Learning about birth, which is another big, life changing event (although much more positive than my accident was), is teaching me that so many of the same things apply to life, healing and wellness. Education is key, and so is your team - the people you have around you who are supposed to help you. I need to trust the people who have so much control over my and our baby's health, and our whole birth experience! If I don't feel comfortable with them, I'll be tense, birth will be harder and it may mean a higher likelihood of medical intervention, and all that means healing may take longer and be harder, and I could be in more pain.

Trusting my team allows me to relax and trust the process, and sets me up for healing and recovery before labor even starts. Education, knowing what to expect (as much as you can), knowing your options ahead of time and knowing what your rights are are all vital to feeling calm and  prepared when I go into labor, too... but those things ALL apply to any experience with healthcare providers and  hospitals and treatment! It doesn't matter if you need surgery, or physical therapy, or a prescription. We all need a good team around us, we need to be able to ask all the questions we want to ask, and we need to have our healthcare team respect our wishes and our personal plan for wellness. My team after my accident was amazing and I'm still in touch with many of the people who cared for me at the accident scene and in the hospital. And now, the doctors I have in my life make me feel totally cared for. It really makes all the difference.

I'm in my third trimester now - the home stretch! I am so grateful for everything I'm learning and even more so for how it applies to my wellness journey overall but while I still feel great, fatigue is starting to mount and I still have so much prep to do! I hope you'll forgive me for taking some time away. A little self-imposed maternity leave of sorts. I am growing a little person after all, and I need to take time to properly prepare for his arrival, but it means the world to me to stay connected to you. I'll still be posting to social media and maybe blogging if I can, so make sure you're following me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter so you don't miss any posts and so we can keep getting to know each other. All of you reading are truly in my heart and I don't want to lose touch with you.

And I'd love to know, what are some really hard things you've dealt with and how did you get through it? How do you take care of yourself and your healing process? What do you do to make sure you're getting the help and support you need? Let me know in the comments below.


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Bonus Blog! My Q&A with Bethany

I had the honor to be interviewed by Bethany at From The Pasture this week, and I want to share it with you! We go a little deeper into my story than I've written here on the blog, and it sheds a little more light on who I am and what brought me to this place in my life.

I'd love for you to read it! Feel free to leave comments below, or over at From The Pasture.

 

"I met Maggie a few months ago when she stopped by the farm to pick up an order. Her bubbly, inviting personality made it super easy and fun to chat with her. After a little while, she opened up to me about her incredible story (which we’ll talk about below). It completely blew me away!

I was so imporessed not just by what Maggie had been through, but also by her positive outlook and persevering spirit. Ever since then, it’s been a joy to keep in touch with Maggie and see all of the amazing things she’s doing to empower and inspire others to live healthy lives. She even started a blog about it (check it out at mywholehealthy.com)! I hope you’ll enjoy learning about Maggie and her story as much as I have!

Let’s start from the beginning. Can you give us a bit of background on where you were at in life before the accident?

First of all, I just want to say thank you for having me on From The Pasture! It’s no secret that I love your blog and the Primal Pastures farm. I’m honored to be interviewed by you!

So the accident happened in Nov. 2007 and the summer before, I was living in the San Diego area and working..."

READ THE REST BY CLICKING HERE


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So Many Gifts!

So this has been an amazing week and I have so much to share with you!

My itty bitty baby bump! I'm 6'1" tall and it's still early yet ;)

My itty bitty baby bump! I'm 6'1" tall and it's still early yet ;)

First off, I would like to officially, publicly, announce that I am PREGNANT!!! and my husband and I are over the moon with happiness! Honestly, after my accident I was scared that I might not be able to have children and even after I was told I still could, I feared there was some injury or damage that had gone unnoticed that would still cause problems. But thankfully, joyfully, we got pregnant pretty easily once we started trying!

I feel so blessed and grateful, and appreciative of the amazing healing my body has accomplished! Yes, I still have scars - physical and emotional - but my body is healthily and happily carrying a little person now! I am in awe.

Learning to walk again in the hospital after  the accident . Head shaved, arm still in a cast with pins in my wrist, and I remember my left leg (that had been broken in 5 places) felt heavy and numb, like dead wood. I was 23 years old at the time.

Learning to walk again in the hospital after the accident. Head shaved, arm still in a cast with pins in my wrist, and I remember my left leg (that had been broken in 5 places) felt heavy and numb, like dead wood. I was 23 years old at the time.

 


Secondly, if you follow me on social media you probably saw that I wrote my exam on Thursday to earn my personal trainer certification with the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and passed with flying colors! I am so excited to have the qualifications necessary to work with and help people (you?!) one-on-one! I plan to start training later in the New Year and when I open the doors to accept new clients, I will let you know in my newsletter so make sure you sign up (top right of this page!) to make sure you're in the know! 

And now, with Christmas right around the corner, I wanted to give you some gift ideas with products and companies that I have, use and LOVE! Some of the links are affiliate links, so I would get a teeny commission if you use the link to buy something, but all the items are meant to help you! Anything I would make goes to helping me support this site but I hope you love and enjoy these things as much as i do! 

The next three companies make the most comfortable, stylish and functional organic clothing I've found yet! I don't like wearing synthetics made from petroleum (nylon, polyester, etc.) next to my skin when I work out and sweat, and the same goes for non-organic cotton which is sprayed with nasty pesticides, because I know there are cleaner, healthier options. I found these companies and since wearing their clothing regularly for months, I love them! They seem to have some killer pre-Christmas sales happening too, so check them out!

PACT apparel  - This company makes the MOST comfortable undies I have ever owned (ladies, no panty lines!) and everything they make is ORGANIC and Fair Trade, and they hold a ton of other awesome certifications!

Plus You can feel good when you buy their products! So if you need stocking stuffers, head over to their website to pick up CUTE socks, COMFY undies and the softest, most comfortable leggings and tees (plus camisoles, hoodies, tights and long johns!) Besides, who wants to wear pesticide-soaked cotton next to your most precious parts?! Every pattern they release is a limited edition so grab it while you can, and if your size is sold out, unfortunately it's gone. But every spring and fall brings new looks!

YOGIIZA - Organic yoga wear. This company is a recent discovery but I have two of their yoga/sports bras and three tank tops and I love them all! I know more Yogiiza apparel is in my future. It's is so soft and stretchy and comfy, yet supportive. Really well made and I love how it looks on! 

Here, I am working out (side lunges with a shoulder raise!) wearing a chocolate and turquoise color Yogiiza tank, Yogiiza sports bra and Gramicci leggings.

Here, I am working out (side lunges with a shoulder raise!) wearing a chocolate and turquoise color Yogiiza tank, Yogiiza sports bra and Gramicci leggings.

Gramicci - I discovered this company earlier this year while searching high and low for organic workout wear. Their NPT Athletic organic cotton and hemp line was the first thing I tried when making the switch to organic workout wear. And I keep looking with excitement every time they come out with a new line or new pieces! The hemp is naturally antibacterial so you don't smell all gross and sweaty even after an intense workout and the cuts and seaming of the clothes make easy movement a breeze. One feature I love is the little pocket in the waistband of the leggings where i can stick small things like my rings when they start to chafe during a workout! They are also committed to greener manufacturing.

 

Now for other things that have improved my life, and I hope they do the same for you!

Want to decorate your Christmas cookies without using the typical artificial (petroleum) food dye that's linked to hyperactivity in children? India Tree makes natural food dyes from vegetable colorants, and colored sprinkles made with the same. Seems like a great stocking stuffer to me!


I mentioned this film in last week's post and it's one of my favorite documentaries now. Released over the summer, I saw it in the theater and found it shocking, infuriating but also really inspirational because it shows what can be done. Our "food system" is broken and our nation is sick but there is a way through. This would be an awesome gift for anyone who cares about their health and is ready to make a change, or just become more informed.


Food, Inc. is THE film that inspired my husband and I to completely change how we eat. It wasn't a drastic change so don't feel intimidated but armed with the information in this film, it was easy for us to make smarter, better choices. The film is extremely well done, engrossing and inspiring. Shocking, too, in parts. It would be a great gift for anyone! It's kind of amazing :)


 

I recently found a toothbrush with a bamboo handle and I love it! Have you ever thought about how much plastic goes into the landfills because of all the toothbrushes we throw away? I'm using a different brand than this (the brand I found in my local store wasn't available on Amazon) but it looks pretty much the same as these and the bamboo is a sustainable resource (it grows back, fast) that will decompose when you throw the toothbrush away. Seems like a great gift for anyone who cares about the environment, and their teeth!


This book. Oh my god, THIS BOOK. I can't even begin to tell you how incredible it is and why everyone needs to read it. This book finally made me understand meditation and its benefits, and if you're like me and you need to know WHY something works, this book has it. The author is a science journalist who writes extremely well and who has faced more in her life than most of us, yet is still able to help thousands with her writing. It's so good. Just buy it for everyone you know who needs a little healing in their life.

 

I read this book right after I got out of the rehab hospital and it gave me SO. MUCH. HOPE! For anyone who has suffered a brain injury and is lucid and focused enough to read it, or the family or friends of anyone with a brain injury, this book is incredible. It's full of case studies that show the remarkable healing power of our brains and despite the scientific content, it's EXTREMELY well written and hard to put down. Highly recommended!!! 

 

I love these spices! All organic, never sprayed with pesticides and no GMO ingredients. These spices are not certified gluten free but I've never reacted to them, and they have many spice and seasoning mixes that are gluten free. And the little glass bottles are so cute to look at and re-use!

I know many of you are reading from Canada and the Amazon links are to the U.S. site, but hopefully you can get them on Amazon.ca, or in a store near you!

You can also purchase photographic prints, cards and keepsakes for the art lover in your life from m.y. photography!

What are your stories of healing? Has your body ever amazed you with its ability to heal? Has healing been hard and left you wondering how you'll ever feel like yourself again? I'd love to hear from you in the comments! 
And I hope this helps you with your last minute Christmas shopping! If you have any gift ideas of your own you want to share, leave them in the comments below! And what's on your wish list? I hope Santa brings you exactly what you're hoping for!

xo Maggie


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All In.

You are amazing. Do you know that? Because it's true. You are a whole, perfect being who deserves to feel amazing all of the time. But these days, you don't feel amazing... and maybe you never have. If you can relate, I hear you! And I'm here to help you.

One night back in November 2007, I had dinner with my roommate in Montreal, laughing and talking  over Thai food, before I grabbed a cab to the airport to catch a flight home for the weekend. 

I was on track to have a successful journalism career, with dreams of being a top news reporter for a big newspaper dancing in my head. I was excited, the semester was almost over and I had plans to move to California after Christmas, I was newly engaged... everything seemed pretty perfect.

My plane was delayed a bit out of Montreal but I still arrived in time to rent a car before the rental counter closed. I threw my suitcase in the trunk, got settled in my car and called my dad, as is our ritual, to let him know I had landed safely and was on my way home. I pulled out of the rental lot and hit the road. 

And I almost made it home. Traffic was light, as it typically is late at night where I grew up, the road was clear... just a couple more exits and a few miles to go. I was really looking forward to that big bear hug from Dad! 

Until suddenly my peaceful drive was violently interrupted by a pickup truck suddenly swerving into my lane and colliding with my car head-on. You can read more about that, and how that led to this blog, right here.

- self portrait -  Me in my Montreal apartment while studying journalism at university. And yes, the little pic on the wall behind me of the person with a mohawk, that was me when I was 17. I have loved punk rock since I was 15, And despite the image it maybe projects, I did not party much and I got mostly As in school. Don't judge a book by its cover ;)

- self portrait - Me in my Montreal apartment while studying journalism at university. And yes, the little pic on the wall behind me of the person with a mohawk, that was me when I was 17. I have loved punk rock since I was 15, And despite the image it maybe projects, I did not party much and I got mostly As in school. Don't judge a book by its cover ;)

That accident changed the course of everything in my life. But even before my accident, I dealt with constant colds and flu growing up. I wasn't "sick" and I felt "good enough" to get through the day so I didn't know anything was wrong! I just figured I was exposed to millions of germs at school and it couldn't really be avoided. Except I was sick way more often than a lot of my classmates, but I didn't think anything of it.

Suddenly being thrust into mega-recovery mode after suffering severe traumatic injuries quickly made it crystal clear to me that Medicine and doctors could only get me so far. If I wanted to get 100% better, I had to take control of my health and I couldn't settle for "good enough". 

We are surrounded by toxins every day and most of us don't even realize it. I know I didn't until I started doing the research! We're stressed out with stress hormones coursing through our bodies and wreaking havoc; we eat processed/fast/junk food because we feel it's all we have the time or energy for; we don't feel that we can or need to exercise; we eat and drink out of containers that are leaching toxic and hormone-disrupting chemicals into our food; we breathe polluted air. I was even eating "good" food that is actually making me sick until I realized that I'm gluten intolerant! This is not an imaginary thing as has been sometimes reported and I will blog about it more in a future post.

You've probably dealt with some kind of illness or injury in your life, too, (even if it's just a broken heart) but despite all that, there is still a way to feel amazing every day. Really and truly.

I don't mean to minimize the experience anyone may be having if they have a terminal illness. At all. I know some things cannot be cured. One of my most dear friends and teachers passed away due to ovarian cancer and I have no illusions about the toll illnesses like cancer, and severe traumatic injury, can take. I will also never minimize your experience of what you've been through. Whatever you feel is the reality of your experience; that's what's true for you. And I will honor that. I've had people tell me that my injuries were worse than, and conversely not as bad as, someone else who experienced a similar injury... which just strikes me as a weird comparison to make. All I know is that it was the worst and most terrifying thing I have ever experienced in my life, but that doesn't change your experience of whatever you've faced, does it?

What I mean is, despite all the challenges thrown our way that can throw us off the tracks, there is always something we can do to feel more centered, happy in our skin and healthy in our bodies. I am so excited to be writing this post and launching this website for you, finally! My Whole Healthy has honestly been years in the making and I didn't even know it. I had to gain some major life experience before this vision for helping YOU became clear but I am over the moon with happiness to be able to share it with you now! Welcome, and thanks so much for being one of the first to be here with me.

I titled this post All In. So what do I mean? Hint - it has nothing to do with poker or gambling.

Photos by Jasmine   of   Let's Frolic Together

Photos by Jasmine of Let's Frolic Together

When it comes to achieving optimal wellness, you've just got to be all in, all of the time. Healthy can't be something you decide to be only on weekends. We have this one life to be here now and do whatever this life holds in store for us. Even if you believe in reincarnation, THIS life will never be replicated. It's special. Even if life right now seems particularly horrible (I've been there!), I stand by that. It's SPECIAL and offers us incredible opportunities to learn and grow and even those awful moments (or days/months years) are proof that we are alive. We are here on this planet, getting to experience all of what's beautiful... AND all of what's ugly and hard. To me, that's pretty miraculous.

Still, I know, what's familiar feels safe. Even if it sucks. Change can be scary! But the steps you need to take towards achieving whole health are actually really easy. I know I just said that if we want to be healthy, we have to be all in - all of the time. Doing something with 100% effort, 100% of the time, sounds kind of daunting, eh? But think about it - the lifestyle and habits you have now are already being done the same way. Whatever your life is now, it's already your 100%, as healthy or unhealthy as it may be. The scary part is thinking about change and the unknowns it brings.

For me at least, the idea of change is much scarier than the actual act.

So I'm here to guide you, to help you, to educate you, and hopefully be of service to you. I want to take away a lot of that scary unknown stuff. Ideally, I'll help you replace the fear with excitement and self-empowerment, because like I said, you are AMAZING and you deserve to feel that way! I have so much to share with you... I'm so excited! But I have SO much I want to say, it's hard to know where to start! So... please tell me if YOU have a particular health/food/fitness/meditation/wellness question, or anything else that's on your mind that you want me to tackle in the next post! I would be so happy to start this blog by writing something that's specifically useful to you right away.

I'm here to serve you, so tell me what you're wondering about!

Please read My Story so you'll know why I created My Whole Healthy, and you can Take Action with five EASY steps towards YOUR Whole Healthy right now, and I'd be honored if you signed up for my monthly newsletter (top right in the sidebar of this page) to get Whole Healthy gifts and guidance delivered to your inbox! Check out the site, visit and follow me on social media... this is going to be AWESOME.

Don't forget to tell me in the comments below if you have any questions or stuff I can help you with! Can't wait to talk to you!

xoxo Maggie


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