Katherine Kimes’ remarkable recovery from a severe traumatic brain injury has led her to a career advocating for those who suffer from similar injuries and have to deal with long-term, even permanent, sequela. Writing in Sunday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dr. Kimes offers these inspiring words:
I never have given up. In fact, I have made a remarkable recovery, one beyond everyone’s expectations but my own. My journey has been tedious and long, full of physical and emotional obstacles. Returning coherency and clarity to my speech has been a particularly difficult process that involved two surgeries.
Since the accident, I have had to discover a new self. That may sound like an impossibility. How can one discover a new self? I am no longer the girl I was at 16, nor am I the woman I would have grown to be if the accident had not happened. In that way, I am a new self and new person. I have grieved over my losses time and again. At times, I still grieve for the life I never got the chance to live. However, my determination to strive for the best and continue to grow as a person has helped to guide my recovery.
It is only when we quit believing in ourselves and our capabilities that we lose the ability to grow and learn. I am very fortunate that my injury did not take this desire from me. I am also very fortunate to have a family that believed in me, supported me, never gave up on me and wanted the best for me.
What Dr. Kimes advocates for students with traumatic brain injuries goes for students with learning differences from unknown causes (at least 10% of all students in American schools have some sort of learning disability — they don’t learn as efficiently as their peers):
We need to create an educational environment that promotes inclusion, understanding and compassion. We need to create an environment that provides marginalized students with an appropriate education, so they can be successful in their life endeavors and have realistic hope for the future.
It’s about time we do.