When I Saw The Light

By Vitoria Burton

“This Happened to Me”

One beautiful Thursday afternoon seemed like the perfect day for a three-hour road trip
for two best friends to go into the city for the weekend. What they did not expect was to be
flipping into a ditch while the chorus of Sweet Caroline would be playing. On March 11th, 2021,
five days before my 20th birthday, I was in a ditch, cut open, and thinking that I would never see or walk
again. I heard my best friend screaming for help as first responders were dragging me out of a
car that was getting ready to catch on fire as gas and oil had started to leak out. I was taken to the
hospital three hours after the accident with my neck completely cut open due to the seatbelt,
glass shards all over my body, and a piece of metal in my head. What I was not ready for was the
seven hours of sitting in an ER, not being seen by a single doctor or nurse.

“My Story is Not Unique, Here’s the Problem”

While this sounds gruesome, my story is not unique, and there are more stories like mine.
Many can say the problem is that we need more access to public transportation or more
restrictions on who can drive, and yes, they are not wrong. But what about our healthcare workers?
My problem is that I now have a TBI because I was neglected for several hours where I suffered
alone, and no doctor believed me because I was just simply in a near-fatal car accident. A TBI is
an abbreviation for traumatic brain injury which is an injury that affects how your brain works.
Falls, firearm-related suicides, assault, and motor vehicle accidents are common causes of
hospitalization for a TBI. (1) Most TBIs can be safely healed at home with no ongoing care
needed because they are a simple concussion, however, there are more moderate and severe
cases like mine that can lead to disability and even death. In the United States, roughly
223,135 cases are reported for a TBI-related hospitalization yearly, and 175 of those cases a day turn into death. (2)

The thing that CDC tells you is a TBI is only misdiagnosed for people of older
age. (1) However, they fail to say that a TBI mimics stroke symptoms, so a 19-year-old going into the
hospital with her left side droopy and memory loss is automatically marked as having a stroke.
What medical professionals tell you about a TBI is that there are a lot of unknown and grey areas.
You don’t know when you will recover, you don’t know what medicine will help, and you don’t
know if your life will ever be the same. What I can tell you is that if I had been examined when I
had first got to the hospital and had been cleaned up, glass and metal taken out of my head, I
would not be going on year two waking up most mornings not being able to move, not
remembering my parent’s names, or just simply praying that I could go back to being “normal.” Nurses who were being overworked no longer care nor have the emotional capability to help.
Anyone who has been in the hospital after COVID hit has experienced this one way or another, and
people are being misdiagnosed for TBIs daily, leading to death since doctors and nurses do not
want to sit and listen.

“Here is a non-profit working to solve the problem”

“How can we help,” is probably not what you are asking yourself after reading this, but I am
going to tell you. There is a non-profit called Project HOPE working on trying to solve this
problem not just locally but on a global scale. Project HOPE is working on giving mental health
support, training, and equipment to healthcare workers on the front lines. (3) This is only the
beginning, but giving these workers training and mental health support is essential for them to
help us. We forget that doctors, nurses, and EMTs are people too and that they need the same care that we

“Here’s what you (the reader) can do to help, right now!”

Here is what you can do right now. Click this link:

It will take you directly to the Project HOPE page where you can donate money in under a minute, and they even accept cryptocurrency as well. If you are interested in helping in a way that does not include opening your wallet, you can
volunteer or even run a fundraiser for them.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, March 21). Get the facts about TBI.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 13, 2022, from
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, March 21). TBI data. Centers for
    Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 13, 2022, from
  3. Project HOPE. (2022, September 20). Healing people, transforming lives. Project HOPE.
    Retrieved September 23, 2022, from https://www.projecthope.org/

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