St. Helena brain injury survivor learns to live again | Local News | napavalleyregister.com

ST. HELENA — Glancing into the rearview mirror, Peggy O’Kelly, owner of the St. Helena Olive Oil Co., saw a car behind her but thought little of it. The traffic ahead had stopped on Highway 29, a normal event. O’Kelly had noticed it and slowed to stop, but 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 and I often felt emotional and unable to focus. Then one day I was driving with my daughters, and they said, ‘Mom, there’s something wrong with you, you’re not making any sense.’ That’s when I told myself, ‘I don’t care what these doctors are saying, there is something really, really wrong with me.’”After repeated visits, however, O’Kelly’s doctors assured her that the effects of the concussion would not last much longer and that she’d soon be back to normal. She waited and tried to carry on.Yet within a few months of the accident O’Kelly’s entire life had changed: She was forced to relinquish her downtown store in St. Helena and part with her longtime employees, and she was unable to complete her plans to expand the business, forgoing what had been a nearly completed investment deal. Bright light and even a few minutes of concentration had the potential to result in migraine-type headaches and intense fatigue. She remained undiagnosed and concerned.“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.’ But they’re not. Not at all.”

Source: St. Helena brain injury survivor learns to live again | Local News | napavalleyregister.com

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