Disclaimer: I receive this book in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are all my own.
I was so thrilled to be able to read the book Lost in My Mind by Kelly Bouldin Darmofal. The story is about Kelly’s life after she received a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in a car accident when she was 15. I really wanted to read this book because I am a caregiver for my great-aunt. She had a brain tumor, not TBI, but many of the struggles are similar, and I like to gather as much information and experience as I can to help her as well. Kelly’s story is amazing and inspiring, and I do not use those two words lightly. Seeing where Kelly was in 1992 compared to where she is today, and learning about her journey has been inspirational for me.
In 1992 Kelly was a passenger in a friend’s car when the car hit a telephone pole and Kelly hit her head on the dashboard receiving a severe closed-head injury. This injury changed Kelly’s life forever, and the lives of her family and friends. Lost in My Mind chronicles the days, week and years after the accident in heartbreaking, beautifully written detail. The first part of the book is taken from the journals of Kelly’s mother Carolyn Bouldin. Carolyn kept a journal through the time of Kelly’s accident and recovery, because she wanted Kelly to know what had happened in that time period. Kelly’s own memories of details are vague or non-existent, and understandably so. Excerpts from Carolyn’s journals tell of a story of hope and fear, both balanced precariously. As a parent myself, my heart hurt for Carolyn and her husband Bob; for the periods of not knowing what to expect, the fear of the future, and the lack of knowledge out there regarding TBI. We are in a period now when any issue that arises can be easily researched on the internet to gain at least a tenuous understanding. In 1992, the dearth of actual information on TBI was exceeded only by the inability to access it. That is a big part of why Kelly wanted to tell her story. She is a trailblazer in many ways, teaching professionals and teachers how to handle a student with and “invisible” disability who wanted to learn.
Halfway through the story, Kelly takes over narration, and her voice is lovely. She is not sour, not bitter, not self-pitying. She has strength and determination. She is truly a champion, achieving so much against the odds that she was given. Kelly and her mother both write of their navigation through the dangerous waters of the teen years, the normal angst compounded by the additional challenges of TBI, but they made it through together. Both are very strong women – they had to be to make it through the challenges they faced. I admire Kelly for never giving up, for being strong, and for accomplishing so much – “normal” things that many would have denied were possible for her. And I applaud Carolyn and Bob for their ability to always be there for Kelly, but to let her live her own life. This is a challenge that many people with non-TBI children cannot even handle – giving a child the freedom to go out and make his or her own mistakes, knowing that you are a safety net, but not a cocoon. I cannot imagine the worry that they had together, living their lives while Kelly lived her own away at school or in her own home. But they did it, and Kelly’s success is as much a testament to them as it is to her own determination.
I would highly recommend that everyone reads Lost in My Mind. Not only is it a fascinating, well-told story, it also is informative about TBI, a condition that is not understood but it such a problem in our country. In 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there were over 2.5 million TBIs in the US. These most often occur in car accidents, athletic participation, and to military personnel. So much more needs to be known about TBIs, and I applaud Kelly’s bravery in telling her story and bringing the issue forward.