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My Brain Injury Journey

April 1, 2024
My Brain Injury Journey

My name is Melissa Smith. I acquired my traumatic brain injury among many other lasting injuries when I was struck by lightning on July 18, 2017.

The meteorologists called for rain that day, but it was sunny outside. I was sitting at the kitchen table working on our laptop when all of a sudden I heard an extremely loud clap of thunder (almost like a bomb went off). Our daughter saw a blue streak of light come through the house and the next thing I knew I was being zapped!!! Our middle son felt a light zap through his earbuds as he was on the computer in the living room, but he seemingly didn’t have any effects from it. My daughter and I screamed!

We later found out that lightning had struck the ground not ten feet outside the back of the house. It side flashed and came through the house hitting me on my left side!

I lost control of my left hand and dropped the cell phone. The left side of my body was immediately numb and tingling. I had an enormous headache, my chest hurt horribly, it felt like I had been stung multiple times all over my body, and I was disoriented.

My parents called a few moments later, unaware of what had just happened as they were out of town. When I answered the phone, they immediately asked what was wrong and if I was okay because I didn’t sound right. I told them I wasn’t sure if I was okay because I think I was just struck by lightning.

After I hung up, I hollered at the kids to unplug everything! I then hobbled over to my parents house with my kids following me and had the kids help me unplug everything in their house. Of course, I was delirious as it would’ve been already too late. Once back home, I collapsed on the couch. I began searching the Internet with my right hand on my phone to find out what to do when struck by lightning. The only things I could find were to call 911 and start CPR. I wasn’t unconscious and didn’t need CPR. I didn’t know what to do?

I contacted my husband at work. He came home from work and took me to the primary doctor. My EKG was abnormal so they sent me to the ER. The ER Doctor admitted that he had never treated a lightning strike survivor and had to google internet to find out what to do. They ran tests (EKG, bloodwork, and X-rays) to check my heart for damage, and only checked visible skin for wounds. Everything seemed to be okay. After several hours, I was sent home.

A week later, I found a wound on the left side of my head. When I showed it to my doctor, he would neither confirm nor deny that it was from the lightning strike. They didn’t even offer to treat it. I began using natural remedies at home to keep from it getting infected. I now have an indentation on my scalp from it, but I have not other visible scars.

My life afterwards had been drastically changed, including constant migraines, muscle spasms, sleep deprivation, and hearing enhancement. These side effects included traumatic brain injury, memory issues, muscoskeletal problems, nerve damage, chronic pain, PTSD, anxiety, sensitivity to light/noises, neuropathy, multitasking difficulties, personality changes, and sleep issues.

It has been a long road in the recovery process, but I have been working on overcoming one side effect at a time. I’ve been persistent in trying to advocate for myself, though most doctors in my area have not been able to help much.

Also, just as I was starting to feel like I was getting somewhat back to before the lightning strike, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer on March 30, 2022. I think the lightning injuries and my faith in God prepared me for the fight against cancer. My oncologist said that I was his first cancer patient that had also been struck by lightning. I can praise God that I am also an Overcomer as I received a cancer free diagnosis on May 5, 2023!!!

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