Corinne’s Story

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My name is Corinne. At 42 years old I feel like I am doing everything I can to get by, but despite my education and best efforts I have faced many obstacles through the years. This is my story.

Having grown up in a devout Christian community and church in the rural town of Albany, Oregon, the Bible was interpreted in a very strict fashion. For example, women were not allowed to cut their hair due to strict interpretation of one of the scriptures, we were only allowed to wear dresses, we were not allowed to participate in any sports that males compete in (I had always dreamed of playing basketball), and we were prohibited from listening to any music other than Christian music. Television was also restricted, and we were home schooled.

I made the decision to go away to Boston, Massachusetts, where I could be my true self. It turned out to be harder than I thought as I had no friends or family in the area. I found a job as an administrative assistant in a Physical Therapy Rehabilitation company. Here, in addition to my responsibilities, I designed a database system to streamline billing, resulting in saving the company thousands of dollars.

But despite working full time I could not make ends meet, and so I lived out of my car for three months. I was approached by a concerned colleague who allowed me to rent a room from her. I continued to excel at my job when one of the physicians stated how impressed he was with my database and that I should consider going to school for healthcare information technology. I was accepted to University of Massachusetts Lowell and completed a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. During my studies I was hired by a large academic medical center in Boston called Beth Israel Deaconess and I thought life was getting better.

One day, while visiting a friend she asked me to go get her a cup of coffee down the street. While driving home I was rear ended at 60 miles per hour by an uninsured driver from New Hampshire; leaving me without a car and medical bills I had to pay. My car was totaled. I was severely injured and airlifted to a hospital in Boston. Upon arrival I had a femur fracture, hip fracture, multiple facial lacerations with glass embedded in my forehead due to my head hitting the windshield. I also sustained a traumatic brain injury. After multiple surgeries, blood transfusions and months of physical therapy, I was forced to return home to live with my parents due to my physical limitations and my expenses.

After recovering I got a job working as an advocate to fight against child abuse. I saved up money in attempts to buy a condo; however, I had to apply for low income housing. Despite this, I remember the joy I felt as I walked into my own home for the first time. For a few years, things were going quite well. I pursued on in my educational pursuit and got a Graduate Certificate at OHSU in Bioinformatics while working full time again graduating with honors.

One night I was on my way home from a night out with friends when the police stopped me. The officer became aggressive and I spoke up for myself. He did not like this. He told me to get out of the car and I was scared. When I got out of the car, we exchanged words and he shoved me, and I resisted. At that time, I was thrown to the ground and severely beaten. I was then handcuffed and brought to the station. Upon seeing my doctor, I was told I had another traumatic brain injury. I sought legal advocacy through a public defender for my case; however, the ball was dropped, and nothing was done to the police.

Since then I was diagnosed with another TBI and PTSD after having been a victim of police brutality. I have trouble sleeping and concentrating at work. It is hard for me to work in loud and noisy environments, so I have had a difficult time keeping a job. I decided to apply for disability and have been denied twice.

I try to draw strength from my Unitarian church community, TBI group and therapist who is teaching me coping strategies and mindfulness to deal with trauma, anxiety and PTSD. I also spend time gardening, bike riding, hiking and doing volunteer work and landscaping for the Unitarian church in efforts to stay positive.

My dog Chase has also been a great emotional support for me during all of this. He is 13 years old, so he has been with me through a lot. He is the best friend anyone could ask for.

My parents have also been a great support for me through all of this. Although we may not agree on some things, they have always been there to support me as much as they can in their own way. I have also endeavored to try to start a dog biscuit company called doggie zoom zoom to hopefully find a source of income, provide me an avenue to be productive and help others. My dream is that this business will eventually give back to society by donating to organizations that work with those who have a TBI or deal with PTSD. At this time, however, I am barely keeping this business afloat.

I also dream of efforts to stay positive.

I also dream of returning to a job in the medical field or in public health as an administrative assistant or data manager, as that is where my passion is.