Julie Papievis, Part 1: How a Brain Stem Injury Changed Her

Julie Papievis

Julie Papievis was a dynamo before the car accident that changed her life. Now, more than a decade after her brain stem was so badly damaged the EMTs were sure she would die, she’s a dynamo again. In the months and years between her injury and recovery, which was remarkable but not total, she struggled with depression and grief for the woman she used to be.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Julie. As she shared her story, it became obvious that what she went through could help parents of special needs kids. In this three part series, you’ll read about her insights. Today’s post will share five positive ways the experience changed her.

Change #1: Funnier

Julie thinks she’s funnier now because she’s fearless. She no longer worries about what people think of her and is willing to be funny or even outlandish.

Change #2: Fearless

Julie went through something grueling and bounced back. What’s left to be afraid of? Not much! So she has no fear.

Change #3: More Emotional

After her accident, Julie cried for weeks. The doctor finally prescribed an anti-depressant so she could stop crying long enough to do physical therapy. Though she no longer cries as easily, she’s still more emotional than before her injury.

Change #4: Grateful

Julie can’t forget and doesn’t want to forget how helpless she was after her accident and how far she’s come. Sometimes, she’s overwhelmed by how far she’s come and gratitude brings her to tears.

Change #5: Deeper Relationships

Julie says she’s closer to her parents than ever before. They encouraged her and stood by her through the entire ordeal. They listened when she talked about her feelings and encouraged her to learn all she could about her condition. She realizes her relationship to them is rare and precious.

Obviously, Julie is not the same woman she was before her accident. And you’re not the same person you were before your special needs child came into your life. But if you allow your experience to make you funnier, fearless, more emotional, and grateful, you might find great good in your different and difficult life. Maybe Julie’s story can help you do that.

Go Back and Be Happy

If you want to read more about Julie before the next article in this series is posted, check out her book Go Back and Be Happy. It tells the story of her accident, her six week coma which included a stop in heaven and a visit with her grandmothers who live there now, and her amazing recovery which confounded and delighted her neurosurgeon. You can also visit her website, www.gobackandbehappy.com.

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Meet Jolene

Jolene Philo is a published author, speaker, wife, and mother of a son with special needs.

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