Bebe Le is a 34 year old resident of Orange County, California. As a result of a motor vehicle accident she was in a coma for six days. When she woke up, she could not speak, write, or walk. This post summarizes an interview I conducted of Bebe to understand her remarkable transition from near death to successful employment. According to Bebe, her family and the Coastline Acquired Brain Injury program were significant factors in her recovery and smooth transition to employment.
Q: Bebe, what did you do prior to your coma?
A: I spent six years in the real estate industry processing loans and mortgages.
Q: How long after the accident did you start attending the Coastline Acquired Brain Injury program?
A: My accident occurred in 2007 and I started the program in 2009.
Q: Why did you choose a group program rather than an individual recovery plan?
A: Everybody in my life at that time recommended I attend a group therapy program. My family did the research and found that Coastline Acquired Brain Injury program was the best group program for cognitive therapy.
Q: What were the benefits of the program?
A: Even though students were in the program for a variety of reasons, all of the students had similar challenges. Students talked about their deficits. Instructors were very knowledgeable, understanding, and helpful. I’m the type of person who asks a lot of questions. The instructors would offer strategies to help me overcome the situation that I was in. If the strategies didn’t work, the instructors would continue to support me and recommend additional strategies. My family is very caring, but they did not have the experience of Coastline students and instructors.
Q: How did you transition from therapy to what you are doing now?
A: The Coastline program requires Future Planning to help you prepare for what you want to do after therapy. My instructor, Erin, suggested that I take some classes (business, selling, marketing, advertising, and adaptive physical education) while I was in the program so I would be ready for what I wanted to do after therapy. I think the Future Planning and transition are why I am successful today.
Q: Are you in a related field?
A: I’m still networking, selling, managing customer relationships and evaluating financial profiles, but I’m in the insurance industry now. The concept is the same, but the product is different.
Q: What advice can you share with people who are considering a cognitive therapy program?
A: It’s important to have somebody you can relate to. The Coastline ABI program gave me a better understanding of who I am and what I want to do. The program also helped me understand my deficits and develop compensation strategies to reduce or eliminate the deficits.
Q: What advice can you share with people who are currently in a cognitive therapy program?
A: Always ask questions. There might be other people who want to ask the same question but they’re scared to.
Q: What advice can you share with people who are transitioning from a cognitive therapy program?
A: Take it slowly and start the transition before you finish the program so when you run into challenges you can ask instructors and students for advice. Don’t give up, even if you feel down. Perseverance is the key.
Q: What advice can you share with the family members, friends, and caregivers who you interacted with during recovery?
A: Be patient. Mental recovery is not the same as l physical recovery. Sometimes family members see that you are physically better and they expect that I’m ready to go back to work. There were things that I could not do.
Q: How would you summarize your personal philosophy about enjoying life after brain injury?
A: Perseverance! There is a solution to every problem. I am happy to have a job that I can look forward to every day. It’s a challenge, but I’m happy. It’s possible that I am happy now, and I can be even happier a year from now.