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Brain Injury Awareness Month

FAIRMONT — Brain Injury Awareness Month is recognized each March according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The month is meant to provide an important opportunity to bring attention to the prevention of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and to promote strategies to improve the quality of life for persons living with TBI and their families.

Samantha Wendt of Sherburn shares her story of TBI and how it has affected her life, after a motor vehicle accident in 2016.

Wendt and her oldest child were taken to a local ER following the accident, where they were later released after being told they had minor bumps, bruises, and some sprains. At the time, there was no mention of a concussion.

“To be honest I was still high on adrenaline,” she said. “As a mother, you’re always worried about your child before yourself. I knew that there was something more, but I didn’t have the strong voice that I have now.

“I always grew up with the point of view that you just have to listen to the doctor, and the doctor is always right. I’ve learned that’s not always the case.”

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), while it can be hard to formally diagnose TBI, the CDC, the American College of Rehabilitation Medicine, and some others have published guidelines for diagnosing TBI.

Wendt shares that she suffered eight months of daily migraines, vertigo, and depression while seeing two neurologists before being diagnosed with a concussion.

“In a way, it was a relief,” she said. “The first neurologist I saw said, “It’s just in your head, there’s nothing wrong with you.” Then I saw the second neurologist told me I’d been living with a concussion for eight months.”

Wendt shared that she has since worked on identifying things and situations that trigger her symptoms.

“If I get too hot or too cold, which is an interesting combination living in Minnesota, I could flare into a migraine. I have to regulate my temperature, so I’m outside some days when it’s 60 degrees and I’m wearing a jacket. But if I’m not wearing a jacket, I’m good.

“Otherwise there’s loud noises, like the Fourth of July and all the flashing fireworks. I don’t watch that. It’s been a life-changer.”

Moving forward, Wendt shares that she decided to look into natural means to help ease her symptoms. She also credits her faith for being able to get through her difficult times.

“God was there the night of the accident,” she said. “My relationship with God has grown significantly the past five years.”

Wendt is planning to host a virtual event with a friend who also has TBI.

“It’s basically for people who have had brain injuries. It’s about embracing the new you after the brain injury because your life does change. As much as you deny it at first and want to get back to your old way of life, there’s parts of you that die and you need to learn to thrive now.”

The event is free, though money is being raised for the Brain Injury Association of America. For information about Wendt’s services or the upcoming virtual event, people are invited to contact her by email at holisticsamantha@yahoo.com.

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