Learning to Live Again

Peggy O’Kelly, owner of St. Helena Olive Oil Co., prepares to meditate. Photo: Tim Carl/star PHOTOS

By Tim Carl | St. Helena Star

Glancing into the rear-view mirror, Peggy O’Kelly saw a car behind her but thought little of it. The traffic ahead had stopped. O’Kelly noticed the traffic, slowed, and stopped when appropriate. However, the driver behind her didn’t. When the vehicle crashed into hers, it was traveling at 45 mph, totaling her car and upending her life.

When she awoke in the hospital doctors told her the external scratches and bruises would heal, but what they diagnosed as a minor concussion at the time still remains as a haunting reminder of the traumatic event.

“After the accident doctors told me that I’d be fine with rest,” she said. “So I went home. I was busy with my business and was in the middle of negotiating a deal with investors to expand. But within a few days, I knew something was really wrong. I just couldn’t think straight, I often felt emotional, and [I was] unable to focus.”

“With a brain injury it’s not like a broken bone,” said O’Kelly. “There’s no outward sign of the condition and so people just see you and think, ‘Well, you look fine, so things are OK.’”

“A big part of my healing started as soon as I knew what my condition was called,” she said. “Part of the frustration was never being exactly sure what was happening to me.”

“Ultimately I’ve learned how to have a better relationship with my own body and mind,” said O’Kelly. “Dr. Olcese, a clinical neuro-psychologist with a private practice in Santa Rosa, taught me to methodically address and refine six key areas:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Meditation
  3. Exercise
  4. Sleep
  5. Journal
  6. Pace that allows for healing

“Developing specific strategies and approaches within each of these key areas has provided me a new life without the need for medication or surgery.”


Valuable Tip

Thanks to Peggy O’Kelly for sharing her story; Tim Carl for writing an article about O’Kelly’s experience; St. Helena Star for committing its resources to publishing the story; Google for helping me find the article; and all the people who, directly or indirectly made it possible to include the picture, text, and link in this post.

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