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BRAIN INJURY ALLIANCE OF OREGON

A member of the Western States Brain Injury Alliance
Brain Injury ALLIANCE of Oregon (BIAOR)
PO Box 549, Molalla OR 97038
Phone: 503.740.3155 or Outside the local area: 1.800.544.5243
Fax: 503.961.8730 /  e-Mail:
info@biaoregon.org

The only Oregon Statewide Nonprofit dedicated to the mission of
creating a better future through brain injury prevention, research, education, and advocacy.

jane pope

Jane Pope’s Story

 "I have learned that writing, as well as talking,
can ease emotional pains." (Unknown)

March 3, 1985 what seemed like a fun filled day at the beach turned out to be a life altering experience for my family and I. Doug, my boyfriend at the time, my two children and myself had packed a picnic and taken our two Honda 250, 3-wheelers down to the beach on the Columbia River.

I was 29 years old and had the attitude that I was invincible. I was a total thrill seeker. And I never thought "it" could happen to me. While the kids played in the sand, Doug stayed to watch them as I took off for a run on my bike. Down at the river was a perfect place to ride, there were logs to jump, dunes to play on and lots of straight stretches to see just how fast one could race.

Although I don't remember much of that day, it is somehow implanted deep in my brain as the last day of a normal life for me. As I was racing along the beach next to the waves I must of hit a bump or turned just slightly. There were several witnesses to my accident who said that I was probably going 30 mph or faster when I wrecked. Like a big tricycle the 3-wheeler motorcycle tipped over throwing me to the ground then hitting me in the head, my clothes became entangled in the bike and I somersaulted with the bike until coming to a stop, and landing in the river in about a foot of water. The people who were up on the beach got to me immediately, Doug had seen the accident also so he ran down the beach to see if I was all right. My legs was twisted backwards and still tangled in the bike, they thought it was broken but Doug said he knew from looking at me that that was not what worried him. He would not let anyone move me for fear my neck may be broken. He sat down in the water and held my head on his lap.

The ambulance was less than a mile from me and was at the scene in less than 10 minutes. By then spinal fluid began to leak from my eyes, nose, ears and mouth. They rushed down the beach some 50 yards through the sand with their stretchers but decided not to move me back to the ambulance on a stretcher. The Air Flight Ambulance helicopter was dispatched from Pendleton some 50 miles away and reached me approximately 45 minutes after I was injured. Meanwhile Doug and I had laid in the cold March water for the whole length of time, not knowing at the time it would probably play a very important roll in saving my life.

I was rushed to the Hermiston Hospital 25 miles away.  The doctors took one look at me and told Doug that they didn't have any specialized physicians to deal with my head injuries. I was put back on the helicopter and on my way to the next closest hospital within minutes.  I was taken to Walla Walla Washington to Saint Mary's Hospital. By the time Doug reached me the doctors had examined me and determined that I had suffered extensive head injury, while not a scratch on my body I had 13 skull fractures. They told him I would not live through the night, brain swelling began and my skull was full of blood clots. I never lost consciousness and except for an IV and a few tests, nothing else was done for me. For the next 72 hours Doug stood vigil by my side while the doctors told him I would not live.

To every ones surprise I walked out of the hospital after 13 days, that was 17 years ago and a lot has happened in my life since then. Due to nerve damage to the right side of my face I have had 5 surgeries on my eye.  My sinuses were shattered and my nose rearranged so I had that problem corrected also. I lost the hearing bones in my left ear from being hit so hard and have had 4 surgeries to correct that problem.

I was given no rehab at all while in the hospital and told nothing about brain injury support groups that I know of.  It was not until 13 years later I found a support group on the Internet called tbichat.org.

All in all I consider my self one lucky girl to even be alive. With the love of a wonderful man (who married me in spite of everything 9 months after my accident) and a very supportive family who cared for me for the first several months after my accident I recuperated quite well. The first 6 months are somewhat of a blur but life in general has been good. I suffer to this day with migraine headaches and all the other little things that go along with brain injury, but function close to normal.

After about 7 years of not working I finally took on a part time job working for the Oregon State University Extension Office in Grass Seed Certification. Then in 1994 a friend of mine and I became co-editors of our small monthly newspaper.  Today I am still doing both the Certification job and newspaper, but have added photography to my list.  I work for a company called Western Fine arts as a photographer and a sales contact.  One more thing I am proud of that I have accomplished is I recently got my Personal Trainer Certificate.  I have been lifting at the gym for almost 5 years now and I believe that exercise is a key element to staying healthy.

The very second my life changed from the accident it became history, I call it an uncontrolled circumstance; there is no going back, no changing anything. Only moving forward, everyday is a struggle for me, I will never be the same, but every day it gets better. Time is a wonderful healer, I am thankful for every minute I have on this earth. I was able to see my children grow up and be there for them when they needed me. Not everyone gets the second chance I did. I try to live every day to the fullest and love like there is no tomorrow.

When I get down or depressed I tell myself to look around because there is always someone worse off than. I strongly believe that for everything bad in life there is something good that comes out of it. After all if I hadn't of been injured I may of never met all the wonderful people in my brain injury support group at www.tbichat.org . I love you all like a family and am thankful for each and every friendship.