Dear Gabrielle Giffords,
My name is Tessa Venell and I work in public media in Boston. Also I survived a severe brain injury in 2006.
I was driving at night near my parent’s house in Southern Maine when my car went off of the road and into a group of trees in the woods. I was in the car, unconscious, for two hours, before a volunteer search a rescue worker found my car and called Lifeflight helicopter to take me to the ICU at Maine Medical Center. I spent 5 weeks at Maine Medical Center before being transported to Braintree Rehab Facility in Braintree, MA, where I was in inpatient rehab for 100 days. After Braintree, I came back home and did outpatient therapy at Portsmouth Regional Hospital for seven months. When I was admitted to the emergency room at Maine Medical Center, the attending neurologist gave my parents a 10% chance for my functional recovery.
I write this letter to you to give hope to your family, because I can understand how much my family valued messages like this one when they were wading through the hospital mess of my recovery. Recovery takes a long time, and it will take a lot of effort on the family’s part, but with the correct rehabilitation and respect for the injury (on both the patient and family’s part), full recovery is possible.
I feel like I owe to my family and to my friends my recovery from this injury, and your family and your friends will make your recovery possible, Ms. Giffords.