TBI stands for traumatic brain injury. Imagine this serious injury happening during a training run for a marathon and being told you aren’t likely to survive. And THEN imagine making it through and penning the incredible story of hope, resilience, love, and inspiration. That’s exactly what happened to Kristin Abello, and she is telling the empowering story in the book Sunrise: Life after Traumatic Brain Injury. Below is an excerpt from her memoir, used with permission, and more about the book and author.
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About author Kristin Abello
Advocate, philanthropist, and writer Kristin Abello has made it her life’s mission to share her story with the world and is passionate about changing the narrative of the TBI community. Although every injury is different, there is a common thread that with faith, prayer and support, proper healing can take place. Kristin and her husband Raul are the parents of two wonderful boys, Jacob and Colin, and they currently reside in the city of Houston, Texas, with their Golden Retriever Lucy.
Sunrise Book excerpt from Kristin Abello
This excerpt is from Kristin Abello’s book, Sunrise: Life after Traumatic Brain Injury: A Healing Journey in Surviving TBI, An Empowering True Story. Reprinted with permission from Kristin Abello.
Three weeks into TIRR [The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research] I was scheduled for bingo games with the nurses and other patients. I could see it was a bright and sunny morning though the wide horizontal window to my left. A nurse had scribbled my activities for the day on a white board, and I recall watching her from my twin-size bed and thinking that these people needed to give me a break. In reality my duties were as simple as waking up, eating, and doing physical therapy, and usually afterwards I would pass out, as my brain had to continuously reconnect my broken pathways.
Bingo was to be held in a separate room, down the hall. I didn’t want to go and told Jeri. Thankfully she understood me, but Mom had a different idea. She wanted us to follow the doctor’s orders and made my friend wheel me to bingo. A nurse told Jeri to wait outside, as no family or friends were allowed in the games. It was only the nurses with patients. I stared at Jeri as she quickly walked toward the door. She waved goodbye while shrugging her shoulders and looked at me with hopelessness in her eyes, in disbelief that she had to leave. She had known I had wanted her to stay. I had thought she would maybe be able to convince the nurses that I didn’t need to be there.
I joined the group of several other patients. We sat around two joined rectangular tables. Everyone seemed a little behind. They talked at kindergarten level. Things were not matching up.
Why am I here? I thought.
I had yet to comprehend the severity of my state.
There was a man across from me having a hard time finding an image of the sunshine on his bingo card. The nurse had just called out in a bright voice, “And who has the sunshine?”
Okay this was bad. The man with the sunshine card was my age, but for some reason he was acting like a five-year-old. What was going on? Mom said I was in a bad accident. I squinted around the room. I must’ve been way worse than I thought.
“Who has blue socks on their bingo card?” The nurse slowly enunciated each word as she kept flipping her long blonde hair to the side.
Another guy across from me was getting very excited. He just realized he had the blue sock picture on his card.
There was no background music. The room was cold and stale. Sterile. It was silent except for the voice of either the nurse or her assistant. They must have set the bingo cards on the tables before we entered. One patient started laughing, a few were super excited, and a couple were really quiet.
I was one of the really quiet ones.
About Sunrise by Kristin Abello
In 2002, while on a training run in Houston, Texas, with her husband, Raul, in preparation for the Marine Corps Marathon, Kristin Abello was struck by a car. As a result, she sustained a traumatic brain injury and other physical traumas. The initial consensus was that she wasn’t going to survive, but miraculously, she did and in Sunrise, she tells her story of faith, love, hope and healing from TBI.
While a love story, it is also the true story of her fight for survival. She and Raul were a young couple in love when the catastrophic car accident nearly pulled them apart. Abello tells how the support and prayers of her husband, family, and friends formed the basis of her miraculous recovery.
A portion of the proceeds of this book will be donated to (TIRR) The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research and TIRR Memorial Hermann.
As a companion to the book, Abello has also released Sunrise TBI Journal: Life After Traumatic Brain Injury Daily Diary (Nov. 1, 2022; ISBN 978-1956642360), where TBI survivors can process their thoughts and log their progress. By taking the time to set the tone for the day and reflect at the end of the evening of each day, brain injury survivors begin to establish repetition through the routine of journaling.
Meet author Kristin Abello. Photo courtesy of Kristin.