I suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2011, when I was 23 years old. It took over my life, and I have been fighting to get it back ever since. I was playing basketball with my students and I was accidentally headbutted in the mouth. I fractured my jaw, and eventually lost my front tooth. My life went on a downward spiral from that moment on. I was admitted to the ICU for 5 days after losing memories and waking up with amnesia, not knowing who I was. I have come from that girl in the hospital who couldn’t remember my 23 years of life before my brain injury to an author, motivational speaker, and brain injury advocate.
Price Range: Contact for rates
Gig Length: 45 - 80 minutes
What to Expect
Expect to be educated, inspired, and ready to pursue your dreams and goals because as Nikki will show you, no disability should be allowed to crush your dreams.
In 2011 I suffered a traumatic brain injury while playing basketball with my P.E. students. A student and I collided while going for the ball and I was headbutted in the mouth. I saw black spots, was dizzy, my hearing was muffled, and my mouth was bleeding substantially. I was worried about losing my front tooth because it took the brunt of the hit and felt loose. The next day I went to the dentist and they said I may have fractured the tooth, however it’s hard to see that in an x-ray but if I experienced extreme pain or discoloration in the tooth to let them know. A month later when I was on vacation in Las Vegas I looked in the mirror and noticed my tooth was becoming a murky shade of yellow. I had a root canal when I got home to save the tooth. A month later my tooth was becoming more and more yellow and was I in excruciating pain. When I went back to the dentist they did another x-ray and saw the tooth fracture along with a jaw fracture. The dentist ended up pulling my front tooth and a specialist I saw said over the next few years I would need an implant and braces. In the meantime I had frequent migraine headaches, chronic fatigue, and mood swings. I attributed the symptoms to being burnt out from working and attending massage therapy school.
On March 9, 2013 I was admitted to the ICU for 5 days. The night before my boyfriend and I had gone to a concert and I spent the night at his house. I couldn’t remember where my clothes were in morning and he said I kept talking but wasn’t making any sense. All I wanted to do was lay on the floor. He took me to my parents house and everyone was asking if I took drugs at the concert, had a date rape drug put in my drink, or thought maybe I had toxic shock syndrome (TSS). My parents and boyfriend decided to take me to the hospital because I started losing my balance and strength to stand. I became more and more weak and my head kept dropping forward as my mom was wheeling me in the wheelchair through the hospital. The nurses inserted a catheter to get a urine sample and gave me drugs to calm down because when I was laying in the bed I would not stop squirming around. They performed a CT scan and while we were waiting for the results I started having another episode where I wouldn’t stop moving my legs and thrashing my head back and forth. I was then taken straight to the neurology floor. I was put in a bed that had an alarm that would go off if I tried to get up and the doctors began giving me Keppra, and epileptic seizure drug.
At this point my brother came to the hospital to visit me and I could not recognize him, I thought he was a doctor. My mom was a frantic mess and a nurse pulled her aside and said that my dental history may have something to do with the symptoms I was showing. The doctors felt that they did not have the right equipment or knowledge to test me to see if I had a-typical seizures so I was transported to another neurology department at a different hospital. Nodes on stickers were placed on my head to test me. My family and I found that light and stimulation were triggering my episodes. However, the doctor said that I was not having the correct symptoms to be diagnosed with a-typical seizures. The neurologist wanted to give me antipsychotic drugs because he believed these episodes were caused from the sexual abuse I experienced as a child. I refused to believe that my symptoms were caused by that and the neurologist decided it would be best to just discharge me.
At home over the next two weeks I would wake up every morning not knowing who I was. My mom would ask me questions and talk to me for two hours before some memories came back I was able to remember my life. I had to constantly have sunglasses on because I was so sensitive to light. I was so weak I would get tired from doing simple things like eating or going to the bathroom. My first invisalign braces tray arrived and I was reluctant to put them in for a few days but decided to give it a try and put them in overnight. The next morning I woke up knowing who I was for the first time in weeks. This is when my family and I started putting together that the basketball headbutt and mouth injury were related to what was going on with the symptoms I was experiencing with my brain.
My mom made an appointment with an acupuncturist and because of my background with massage I called my massage school to find a craniosacral therapist. I also began seeing a naturopath, chiropractor, using ionic foot baths, aromatherapy, massage and medical marijuana. My craniosacral therapist recommended I do brain testing because I probably suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from my basketball collision. The neurological psychologist performed 8 hours of brain testing and then diagnosed me with a mild traumatic brain injury. This started my alternative treatment for my TBI which became more complicated with the news that I was also pregnant. I would have to go to three appointments a day sometimes to keep myself and the baby stable.
I have made a very difficult but nearly complete recovery and am now an author, speaker, and brain injury awareness advocate.
Los Angeles, CA
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