Guest Blogs

Jamie’s Story – Q&A

Do you remember Jamie’s amazing story of how her right brain stem made her entire right side paralysed and how through recovery she gained movement back and is now snowboarding again? Well, after talking for a while via email we agreed to do a Q&A. For such a long story of recovery and motivation her post seemed short, so here are some questions to go a bit deeper into her story (and about all the different kind of ski moves!)

Here’s some great advice from her to take away if you’re currently struggling:

‘Don’t worry, you will be ok. Whatever level you are at, or get back to, it’s ok. no one knows why this happened to you, but don’t wait for doors to magically open. Grab that handle, open the door and walk through. There are some doors around you. Don’t blame what you can’t do on having a TBI, learn what you can do and go through those doors.’

Thanks for submitting your story! Although Alphabet Brains is a little bit confused about what double flips and other ski moves are, could you explain a little bit about them?

Of course! Skiing moves are very confusing! SO I will do my best to explain. A flat 3, what I did my first competition run, is an off-axis backflip. What that means is instead of going straight over like you regularly see gymnastic backflips you do a “Newschool” grab and go off-axis backflip. My second run, and the trick I under rotated (came up short) and went into a coma was a double flat 7. That’s an off-axis, grabbed, double backflip. That means you flip around twice. Here is a video of me doing a double backflip at the 2013 X-Games. I actually became the first female in the world to compete and land a double flip in a slopestyle run at X-Games 2013. Here it is:
xgames.espn.go.Jamie Crane-Mauzy double backflip

How long had you being skiing before your accident?

I started skiing at 1-year-old. People ask my mom if she wanted me to become a pro skier so she pushed me. She always says: “to be honest I never really cared if Jamie would grow up to be a professional skier, I just loved skiing, I loved the outside, Jamie was conceived on a UU ski trip, I skied with Jamie in a tummy pack at 3 months old so it was natural as soon as she could walk to slip skis on her feet and go play outside in the mountains!”
Do you remember much from the accident?

I don’t remember anything. I remember the day before, but it feels like forever ago, it seems way longer ago then it actually was but I don’t remember the day of my crash at all and one month afterwards. My amnesia was very strong at the beginning. I was like the movie 50 First Dates, whenever I went to sleep I would wake up with no recollection of the day or who I was. My mind started to come back 1 month after my accident, but it came back like going through your childhood. What I mean is when you think back on your childhood what do you remember? Events that mattered.

I remember simulators put on my right arm to get it to move for the first time, (I hurt my right brain stem so my complete right side was paralyzed) but nothing else that day. I also loved pretty much all the therapists but there was a speech therapist who was interning and treated me like I was stupid. I absolutely hated being treated like that so I would not talk or respond to her. I remember that feeling and how mad I was but couldn’t really say anything, but I don’t remember anything else that day. Luckily my mom could tell and she saved me so even though I couldn’t really talk I never had to work with that speech therapist that treated me like a stupid child ever again. My memory came back at about 1.5 months and once it fully came back it never left again. A nurse asked me how I was at the time and I said: “great! I’ve been sober for 3 days! I remember everything!”

What’s an oxygen analysing brain bolt?

It is a brain bolt that has to minuscule feelers that unravel in your brain and test out the oxygen level. In the past they tested your oxygen level off your finger. One day my finger said I had enough oxygen but my brain said I did not so the doctors increased the amount of oxygen to your brain. Oxygen helps any part of your brain from becoming brain dead.

Did you have support once you had left hospital?

Yes. I had an incredible amount of support from a ton of different types of people and I could not have recovered the way I did without them.

I owe the most to my family. Thy were all incredible and I could talk about them for hours but I’ll try and keep it short (it’s not that short, but I tried).

My oldest sister, Amy, is an anaesthesiologist. She became the doctor in charge of me and could understand doctor to doctor.

My next older sister, Janet, is a massage therapist. She did reiki on me, then stayed (she lives in Oregon) to massage me every single day for two months after I left the hospital.

My younger sister, Jeanee, is a professional Halfpipe skier, we are best friends and travel together. She was at World Tour Finals and watched my crash and stayed with me through the whole process. She became my PR and still is my PR. This year she made the decision to compete happy and became the Noram Overall champion, landed on 4 podiums, and became the best junior skier in the wold. She also organizes motivational speaking gigs and press conventions as my PR. She organized a press convention up in Vancouver which will cover our round trip and hotels and have around 8 television networks present.

My youngest sister, Jilly, made sure my mom and Jeanee ate, and took care of them when they wanted to take care of me so much they ignored their own essentials like eating.

My dad, Jeff, lives in Connecticut so he came out to Vancouver, they all did when I was in a coma then came then came out to Salt Lake City every couple weeks.

And my mom, nickname fruit. I could not have recovered this way without her. She had a federal grant from the government to tech self esteem to women and studied physiology years ago and all her training played a huge part. She did things like make me do Rosetta Stone in English when my English was coming back. Tape down my strong hand so I had to make breakfast with my weak hand. Do Algebra 1 again so my brain nerve ways kept working. Make me use a hand strengthener on my right hand every day and do Lumosity every day.

After I left the Hospital I did outpatient therapy, Speech, Occupational, Physical Therapies every day for 3 hours, then I would do Fruits therapies for about 5 hours. So I was busy, worked hard, and completely recovered.

I had amazing friends, and the ski industry helped me stay relevant, like Dew Tour had me be a Guest Athlete Announcer at their completion in December.

I could not have recovered without all the support I had from my first response in Whistler believing in the chance of a miracle (they wrote a fatality report and I was not expected to survive) To the Vancouver and Lake City Hospitals, taking care of my brain, To my amazing family, my awesome friends, and the wonderfulness of the ski community. (not one of my sponsors dropped me and Jeanee and I have actually stated representing new companies. We always represent together)

So like I knew that would be a long response, But I owe so much to so many people and I want as much credit to be delivered to as many people as I can. They deserve it. They are wonderful people who literally saved my life.

It’s great that you went back to skiing, do you ski as much as you used to?

I ski all the time. Which is wonderful! I went back to Skiing with the National Ability Center in Park City. They are trained instructors who deal with bringing opportunities to participants of all different ability levels. That was huge to have a trained instructor when I went back to skiing. I then graduated from their participant program, became a volunteer for NAC Fly freestyle and race ski program to Mentally challenged kids, and now am working for the NAC as Universal staff this summer and a motivational speaker through NAC full time.

I also set “anti-goals” limits. In December and January just skiing, In February hitting little jumps and doing 180’s, in March hitting little jumps and doing 360’s.

I am always going to be a part of the ski community but will never go back to being a competition the way I was. It’s not a black and white picture, it’s important con constantly analyze risk and now I get the opportunity to tell a motivational story through my skiing. I have always wanted to inspire people to believe they can set one goal for tomorrow that they know they can accomplish and go out and accomplish it not look at the big picture and how far they have to go and get discouraged. Now I have an incredible, unique story and can help people out as a motivational speaker, and with my ability to go back to skiing. (after 1 year I am no more likely to damage my brain than any other normal brain, but I have learned a ton about risk management and being happy but keeping it reserved and safe.)

• You’ve recovered so well! Do you still struggle with anything?

I have no symptoms any more. The symptom that lasted the longest was emotional.

I started seeing a physiologist, and still do. I was in complete denial, but realized I needed help before it was too late. I honestly never became depressed, I never wanted to hurt myself or others, but I became obsessive and compulsive. When I got flown in a Leer Jet to Intermountain Medical Center, they didn’t want press to know I was there so changed my name to Joanna Campbell.

I associated my behaviours that were TBI based (and if I still have one, I haven’t for about 2 months, but I’m aware it might come back) on Joanna Campbell. It’s now my alter ego for anything I do that I am embraced about. But for me I loved physical challenges, I love setting and accomplishing goals, so relearning to walk and get my body back was easy, I was also ok with math, I don’t love math but like the challenge, but the emotional effects were the hardest, lasted the longest, and I felt the most guilty for. I was alive! Everything else should be great! But I was having hard issues and went to go get help. I would recommend everyone go get help if they think they might need it. GO get help today.

Do you have any advice for people who are living with a brain injury?

My biggest advice is no matter who you are and what stage you are at, set one goal that you know you can accomplish and go accomplish that goal. You can do it!

Every single person is affected emotionally by a TBI. I had heard that, but I always heard people are depressed, or 1-6 actually commit suicide. I was never depressed and very very far from being suicidal so I thought “not me!” But I know now how many little emotional struggles I had. How Joanna would take over my body and I would have no control and I would obsessively call a guy 10 times! (Joanna was the name they gave me in the hospital so media didn’t know I was there; she then became my TBI alter ego. Joanna did it!) So I went to go get help and It has been SO beneficial. Don’t wait until you are depressed, don’t feel guilty about having some issues, don’t be in denial. I strongly recommend to go get help. Have someone who is trained in analyzing emotions and can’t say a word of what you say to anyone else. It is worth it to get help.

Don’t worry, you will be ok. Whatever level you are at, or get back to, it’s ok. no one knows why this happened to you, but don’t wait for doors to magically open. Grab that handle, open the door and walk through. There are some doors around you. Don’t blame what you can’t do on having a TBI, learn what you can do and go through those doors.

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