Our Stories

Hope within the “new normal”

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On July 2, 2002, I was riding a friends bike to the store in Tannersville NY, and fell off onto my neck, shoulders, and back. I went to the ER they did a classic examination. X-rays, CT, etc., and sent me home, saying: only contusions.But they told me to follow up when I got back home. Which I did.

On September 11, 2002, shortly after waking up I had a stroke. My life had changed dramatically. I went to Mt Auburn Hospital in Cambridge. It was there my team sent me to the BIDMC (Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center) for an arteriogram, as I was very healthy, and couldn’t figure out what caused my stroke. At the BI they saw I had dissected my right carotid.

I slowly tried to put all the pieces of my life, back together. I resisted this new normal for the first two years and I went into a downward spiral. I found out about Community Rehab Care which Integrates folks with brain injuries back into the community. Rehab based in outpatient settings I had comprehensive PT, OT, Speech Therapy, and Neuropsychology. This was one-on-one therapy and in groups.  After around 6 months there, my insight to this new normal propelled me forward.

It's now emblazoned on my arm!

It’s now emblazoned on my arm!

I still live with a few challenges related to my brain injury.  I have some persistent short term memory loss. Recalling names of people is not always easy. At times I have a short fuse and need to deal with impulse control. When in a conversation with someone there are times that I do not let them finish before I feel compelled to say something.

However, I am involved in the independent living movement, enjoy cooking and am active with civil rights, all of which have given my life meaning. I look forward to each day that is given to me.

I am a proud member of ADAPT. I speak to different clinical groups, talking to them from the perspective of someone they might treat. This group includes physiatrists, OT, Speech, and PT. Telling them of the Life of Don Summerfield.

Now I’m going through a time that’s sometimes bumpy, as I was recently diagnosed with a renal cell carcinoma. It is small and within a cyst. Most likely it will be another bump in the road. I’ll know more when I’ll be seeing another doc who might robotically remove it.

With Hope,
Don Summerfield