Meet Karla | Faces of Traumatic Brain Injury

karlaName: Karla J. Stento
Fort Myers, FL

Date of your TBI: October 3, 2016

How did your TBI happen: I had a headache for a couple weeks. It wasn’t anything serious so I thought. By the 10th day it got worse. On a Saturday night I wasn’t feeling well and went to bed early. l woke up in the middle of the night and fell out of bed flat on my face. I hoisted myself up and remember my leg felt funny and was dragging as my head was pounding. I went back to sleep and slept most of Sunday. My fiance, Kristin woke me up and kept asking me if I was okay. I just wanted to sleep. Monday morning I went to the walk in clinic and they immediately sent us to the ER. Upon arrival I began feeling things I never felt before in my head and body. I was taken for a CT Scan where I was diagnosed with a half dollar size brain bleed and I had suffered a stroke. I remember telling the Dr. he had the wrong patient and was crazy as I just had a bad headache. I was made aware the headaches were caused by the cerebral hemorrhage and I was having a stroke the prior day and a half and never even knew it. I do however, remember when everything stopped working shortly after the scans.

What has been your biggest challenge post-TBI: My biggest challenge has been learning to do everything all over again. I’m left hand dominant and my brain injury and stroke affected my left side. I’m a type A personality, always going a hundred miles an hour, doing 50 things at once, very independent and always in control. Now, I have no control over a lot of what my brain is doing and thinking, my speech is slow, my memory is pretty bad and I have no feeling in my left hand, arm, left leg or foot. I’m learning every day how to do everything I was taught as a child. It’s a struggle, but I’m fighting every day! 

What has been your biggest blessing post-TBI: My biggest blessing first and foremost is that I’m alive, I survived! Without the unconditional love and support of my amazing fiance and family, I’m not sure where I would be today. I have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of love, support, cards, emails, texts everyday from even people as far back as elementary school. While there was no underlying cause for my injury, I am beyond blessed for who I am today and the loving people surrounding me daily!

What is your biggest piece of advice to other TBIers and loved ones: My biggest piece of advice is to love yourself no matter what! Be patient and have courage, you got this! Tell your loved ones we may not be the same person we were prior to our injury, and have a different brain now, but love us for who we are today. I would also like other TBIers and loved ones know that you will love this journey and the “new” me, and if you want to see us fly, take my hand and follow along next to me on this journey.

What do you do to relax: I like to laugh and take lots of naps.

What do you do for fun: I like to read, play fun brain and board games.

What is your least-favorite household chore that stresses you out: Being anal, very neat and organized, I love a clean house. When you have a huge house that’s all tile, sweeping and mopping now takes days to do!

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