This Page Includes:

Video Stories

Share Your Story

Written Stories

Our Stories

Video Stories

Celeste's Video Story
Our founder explains her journey and why she started Bridging the Gap


Share Your Story

We'd be very interested to hear your encounter with traumatic brain injury, whether it is your own injury or that of a loved one or friend.

Email your story to us!

Share Your Story
Celeste Palmer, Founder and TBI Survivor


Written Stories
Read our own words about the real experiences of living with - and growing beyond - a traumatic brain injury.
A most remarkable lady
Celeste Palmer's story by her friend, Virginia Russell
Please allow me to acquaint you with a most remarkable lady who has an amazing story to tell. Because of her experiences and the way she has handled them, this woman has become a singular inspiration and source of encouragement to all who... Read More
I am still alive to tell this story
Eric Jordan's story in his own words
My incident happened New Year's Eve 1996. I went up to Azusa Canyon on that day and I had taken a lot of alcohol with me. By evening of that day we were ready to come home but all of us that went were too intoxicated to drive... Read More
Most would have no idea what I recovered from
Elizabeth McGee's story in her own words
My name is Elizabeth Lee (Denman) McGee and 25 years ago today, 3 weeks after my high school graduation, (June 21, 1988) my life took a very big direction change. (yes for anyone who is trying to figure it out, that makes me 43...I am thankful for each and every year ) I was involved in a very serious car accident ... Read More
Someone told the news that I had died
Josh Dotson's story in his own words
On September 15th 1996, I had a gun shot accident. The doctor's kept telling my parent's I had a 50/50 chance of living, I was in a coma for 4-6 weeks after that I was sent to Ballard Rehab, & at that time I was the youngest patient there so I basically was spoiled rotten ... Read More
My only goal now is to concentrate on getting well
Miyoko Pruitt's Story in her own words
My name is Miyoko Pruitt. Last year, August 7, 2009, I had an extreme headache and thought it was a migraine. I was at work (which I happen to work in the Nursing Dept. with a bunch of nurse instructors) and thought I'd take a break ... Read More
I never thought a tiny bug could change my life
Jack Raney's Story by his son, Nathaniel
August 5, 2004 started out as just another day of summer vacation. The only thing different was that my dad wasn't feeling good. At first we just thought he had the flu, but that day changed everyone's life in my family. Read More
A necessary step in my life's journey
Healing with Horses by Terri Mongait
It was a beautiful Fall day - not too hot, a beautiful sun shining, the scent of dry brush and a subtle sage wafting on the breeze. Bodhi, my 18 yr old quarter horse gelding and I were trotting up the trail. Read More
As a mother and a RN, I knew something was wrong
Jonathan Gipson's Story by his mother, Vickie
My son Jonathan is a TBI Survivor. He has always been an awesome athlete, football, baseball, wrestling (went to state 3 years in a row). At 16 years old he sustained a concussion playing football for our local high school. Read More
Return to all Written Stories



A most remarkable lady
Celeste Palmer's story by her friend, Virginia Russell - Full Version
Please allow me to acquaint you with a most remarkable lady who has an amazing story to tell. Because of her experiences and the way she has handled them, this woman has become a singular inspiration and source of encouragement to all who know her, especially to those who have suffered horrific tragedies of their own.

Celeste Palmer's story began for me in September of 2000. I met her in the volunteer office of the PVHMC (Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center) in Pomona, California. Little did I know that just a few months earlier on May 1st she had been involved in a horrible automobile collision. Celeste's car was broadsided by someone who ran a stop sign. Her Ford Explorer rolled over. When Celeste woke up she was a patient at PVHMC with amnesia, not knowing who or where she was. She was told by the doctors that her condition at the time was the best she could ever expect to be, even after release from the hospital. The day she was discharged Celeste walked into a world that made no sense to her at all and back to a life she could not remember.

When I met Celeste I would never have guessed she had amnesia or that she had to teach herself virtually everything, even how to walk again. I offered her an assignment as editor of "The Housecall", a monthly publication of the Auxiliary of PVHMC. Interestingly enough, even though Celeste had no memory of accepting the position she did an exemplary job!

Celeste went everywhere with notebooks, writing down things almost minute by minute. These notebooks were her "brain" since she also had short term memory loss as well as remembering nothing prior to the accident. You see she was unwilling to accept the doctors' prognosis that "this is the best you will ever be". She was determined to make them eat their words!

During the first year that I knew Celeste she lost her house. Celeste, who had a thirteen-year-old son, now found herself homeless. She was waiting on Social Security disability benefits to commence and had no money. Fortunately a Good Samaritan in the person of a neighbor invited her to move into her home. Celeste and her son, Jason, were eventually able to move out on their own.

Not allowing her significant financial calamities to become a distraction or a discouragement, Celeste continued in her pursuit to find and obtain the physical therapies and medical treatments deemed necessary for her survival. With dignity, courage, and dogged determination she faced the challenge of rearing a teenager as a single parent, plus caring for her own extraordinary needs. The better I got to know her, the more amazed I became at her achievements.

Celeste and I began meeting regularly at a local plaza in the early mornings before the stores opened and there we walked for exercise. I knew when things weren't right for her physically because her left leg would start to drag and she would begin to trip. I would ask, "Bad day" ? At times the left side of her body doesn't function properly. The signals from her brain get all jumbled up somehow. After our walks we would go for coffee, but she often had to rush off to finish some homework. Oh, did I forget to mention that Celeste went back to school? She enrolled in the Peter Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. She was awarded a Masters Degree and graduated with honors (!) in June of 2004. How does one accomplish something like this with short-term memory loss?? It's nothing short of amazing! In 2003 Celeste began working at the Peter Drucker School, where she met and became friends with Peter Drucker and his wife Doris.

Celeste became President Elect of the Auxiliary at PVHMC in 2003, and President in 2004. She was also affiliated with the local Chamber of Commerce as well as several other civic organizations.

However, 2003 also proved to be another year of tragedy and excruciating trauma for Celeste, In September of that year she was involved in a second serious auto collision, on a California freeway. She was a passenger in a car that rear-ended another vehicle. When help eventually arrived at the scene she was asked if she wanted to go to the hospital. Not realizing she had sustained yet another brain injury she said, "No," but later realized she should have gone. These additional injuries brought on extreme vertigo. At times Celeste has to walk with a cane to keep her balance. Just one more obstacle to overcome!

Upon leaving the Drucker School she went to work in the marketing department of the Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater in Claremont, CA. Sadly, she was obliged to leave that job because of the extent of her injuries. Her daily struggles required Celeste to frequently make conscious efforts to breathe because her body didn't send the right signals. Even those closest to her don't fully realize still how severely injured she is because from all appearances she seems to be fine.

Celeste moved to Fort Worth, Texas in April of 2005 to be near her daughter and her family. There she continues the ongoing process of rebuilding her life. She works part-time jobs because, due to the pain and vertigo, she sometimes finds it necessary to put work aside and resume the search for medical and physiological treatments needed to sustain her and, hopefully, to cure her chronic maladies. After accepting part-time work her disability benefits were discontinued and remain so until this day.

Celeste perseveres in her quest to find help and answers for all people with traumatic brain injuries. She is more than willing to share her story with others in order to encourage people to never give up looking for new ways to do the things they want or need to do in life. Celeste is the most amazing, remarkable, incredibly smart and talented person I know. This letter doesn't even begin to tell all of her accomplishments over these past 6 years.

I'm confident that once you interview her you will be as inspired by her story and quest to help others as I am. This is one story the world needs to hear.


Email us to comment on this story, submit one of your own, or start a conversation.

Return to all Written Stories



I am still alive to tell this story
Eric Jordan's story in his own words - Full Version
My incident happened New Year's Eve 1996. I went up to Azusa Canyon on that day and I had taken a lot of alcohol with me.

By evening of that day we were ready to come home, but all of us that went were too intoxicated to drive. One of the girls that went with us decided that she was going to drive. She was having fun driving and trying to show us all a good time and then it happened, on the last big left turn coming out of the canyon (she was already driving like a bat out of hell at over 80 miles an hour) when she took the Toyota 4 Runner in the dirt and lost control.

The truck caught the highway and flipped in the air numerous times and I was ejected out of the vehicle and landed face first on the highway. I was taken, medi-vac, by a helicopter to L.A.C. U.S.C. Medical Hospital.

Since then I was at my mother's right after the accident and went through a hell of a lot of settlement compensation real quick. My seizures didn't start until August of 1997 and I was having a hard time living with my mom.

About the year of 2000 my mom couldn't handle me with the drugs and drinking and stealing I was doing from her so I went down to skid row for 10 years. Luckily as of January of this year I have come back to my mom's and controlled my seizures and I am now currently attending a D.S.P.S. program (Disabled Students Program Services) at Mt. S.A.C.

I am glad to know, through Bridging the Gap, that I am not the only person with a brain injury and that I am still alive to tell this story of my accident.


Email us to comment on this story, submit one of your own, or start a conversation.

Return to all Written Stories



Most would have no idea what I recovered from
Elizabeth McGee's story in her own words - Full Version
My name is Elizabeth Lee (Denman) McGee and 25 years ago today, 3 weeks after my high school graduation, (June 21, 1988) my life took a very big direction change. (yes for anyone who is trying to figure it out, that makes me 43...I am thankful for each and every year ) I was involved in a very serious car accident in which I received a TBI (tramatic brain injury), multiple broken bones and both my carotid arteries were torn. I spent 6 weeks in a coma at UMass Worcester. Now except for some minor scars and a slight limp most would have no idea what I have recovered from/still deal with. I have some other less visible effects, especially from my TBI, that I struggle with but I am grateful for still being here.

I went to Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY and got a Bachelor Degree in Fine Art Photography, with a minor in museum management.

I want to thank God for saving my life and healing me. I want to thank all my family and friends for praying for me and helping me through my healing struggles. I want to thank all the Doctors, Nurses, First Responders and all other Emergency Care people in Henry Heywood Hospital in Gardner, MA; UMass Medical in Worcester, MA; and Farnum Rehabilitation Center-Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, NH; and everyone else who helped me... you all were God's hands here on Earth and helped me to survive/recover. Also Thank you to all who serve in any Emergency Response Service and Health Care anywhere..very often you don't get a thank you from the people you have helped..please know the work you do is very much appreciated. (hugs)


Email us to comment on this story, submit one of your own, or start a conversation.

Return to all Written Stories



Someone told the news that I had died
Josh Dotson's story in his own words - Full Version
On September 15th 1996, I had a gun shot accident. The doctor's kept telling my parent's I had a 50/50 chance of living, I was in a coma for 4-6 weeks after that I was sent to Ballard Rehab, & at that time I was the youngest patient there so I basically was spoiled rotten. This is where I learned to talk, & get minor movement of my right arm. I was sent home on February 1st 1997, because I thought it was just a waste of time. I went to St. Mary's hospital for a few months, I was actually taking steps, only thing holding me was this one big guy (not fat either, just muscle) John, he had to be over 6 feet tall.

Everything was going good until one of the secretary's messed up & sent in a duplicate form to get more OT & PT approved. After that, I was referred to in home Hospice that went good for a while, until this one OT blew up at me because my left hand would not open up. So my mom ended up canceling that service. Later on, my mom found a place here in Barstow that has outpatient Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy called Chaparral(don't know if I spelled the name right), that was going good for almost a year but sadly that ended up going downhill also. The last time I went there this one PT who 'so called' graduated Physical Therapist College messed up my legs big time, she was sitting on my right leg & made my left knee touch my nose while my leg was still straight! That's when I was still tighter then a rubber band. All that happened while I was on home study for junior high & high school, so my last PT & OT was in 2000.

So, after that, I just focused on my schoolwork & graduated in 2002 & I got my diploma along with a wallet size version :). I was allowed to do my homework on the computer, but between all that, I got more & more use of my right hand. On May 17th, 2007, I was in for a huge surgery to have a Baclofen pump put in at LLUMC, and it has greatly helped me, after I had to lay flat for 24 hours. I was sent to inpatient at Loma Linda University Medical Center, after I was sent home from there on May 25, 2007, & in June 2007 I started going to outpatient PT & OT in Loma Linda, when my grip was first tested it was between 30-40, so I was told to start working out at home also, which I did. I started out with a 1-pound dumbbell & slowly worked up. Again, everything was going good until I ran out of visits, my dad's insurance only covers 30 of each PT & OT per year, & I was almost back, to where I was when I was still able to go to St. Mary's, & my grip strength was up to 60.

I had a plate put on July 29th 2008, was sent home on the 31st & emergency repair surgery on august 23rd 2008 & was sent home on September 1st 2008.

I have had a lot of hard times since after I came home I found out someone told the news that I had died, so I haven't had any of my friends that I went to school with to cheer me on or cheer me up when I'm feeling down, just my parents & my sister. Only problem I have really is being even shyer then I was before my accident.

For those that want to know, here is a list of things that keep me going: my family, getting hugs from lady's (what guy wouldn't like getting hugs from lady's especially the ones I REALLY like which is about 90% of the ones I have seen), the MANY different video games I have because if I never have found a interest in my games I think I would of just killed myself when I got home in 1997. Drastic thing to say but it's true, but I don't recommend video games for those who can walk or able to get out of the house either by themselves or with someone.

Last thing that keeps me going is my daily workouts I do. I do my 35-pound curls, 5-pound range of potion for my right arm. That is WITH a 5-pound weight strapped around my wrist. Then after I eat dinner, I do my tabletop bike for 45 min every night I have time.


Email us to comment on this story, submit one of your own, or start a conversation.

Return to all Written Stories



My only goal now is to concentrate on getting well
Miyoko Pruitt's Story in her own words - Full Version
My name is Miyoko Pruitt. Last year, August 7, 2009, I had an extreme headache and thought it was a migraine. I was at work (which I happen to work in the Nursing Dept. with a bunch of nurse instructors) and thought I'd take a break and was visiting some co-workers when my supervisor came out of her office, I looked up at her and she immediately asked me what was wrong. My supervisor, who is also a nurse, took me to the nurses' office. From there they called my boyfriend to take me to the emergency room. I didn't go to the hospital because all I wanted to do was go home to sleep. I slept till the next morning then my boyfriend drove me to the emergency room. At the hospital, they took me in right away and did an angiogram, MRI, and CAT Scan. They found a brain aneurysm and transferred me to Cedar Sinai Hospital.

Twenty four hours later Dr. Michael Alexander performed a procedure called coiling and found another brain aneurysm that was leaking. Dr. Alexander went in through the artery in the groin with a titanium wire in a catheter. He did a great job. The only thing I noticed was short term memory loss. It felt more like forgetfulness. One month later I went back to work.

I was fine until the end of December 2009. I was taking a nap and woke up feeling strange. My left hand was shaking incessantly. I stood up and told my boyfriend I needed to go to the hospital. I had had a stroke on the left side of my brain. I had trouble speaking and understanding speech, and had some loss of memory.

Then in February 2010, I was supposed to start speech therapy but was told I needed neck surgery. The doctor called it spinal decompression. They put two metal rods on each side of my neck to hold it up. Because of the stroke I had difficulty comprehending any explanation told to me, as well as, expressing the pain I was feeling. So now everything is running together. I get confused about all the different illnesses, sometimes they seem as one. My only goal now is to concentrate on getting well. I could barely walk, I couldn't talk, and was in excruciating pain. I started physical therapy soon after.


Email us to comment on this story, submit one of your own, or start a conversation.

Return to all Written Stories



I never thought a tiny bug could change my life
Jack Raney's Story by his son, Nathaniel - Full Version
August 5, 2004 started out as just another day of summer vacation. The only thing different was that my dad wasn't feeling good. At first we just thought he had the flu, but that day changed everyone's life in my family.

That night my mom took him to the hospital because he was getting worse. The next day he was even more sick so they went to the doctor again. When the doctor saw him his temperature was 105 so she called an ambulance they rushed him to the hospital and started doing all kinds of tests. I remember I was at home with my brother and sister and my mom called and said my dad was going to have to stay at the hospital and all of us were really scared.

I don't remember a lot about the next few days, its all kind of mixed up. On Aug 14 we found out he had West Nile Virus. I didn't know a lot about it but on the news they talked about people dying from it so I was scared. The next day my dad went into a coma and the doctors had to put a tube down his throat to breath for him, they said he had encephalitis. I didn't like going see him with all tubes and wires hooked on to him but I really wanted to be with him.

After 5 days he started breathing on his own again and he started getting better. He couldn't walk or use his right arm and he couldn't remember things. He had to go stay at a special hospital so they could help him learn things again.

He is back at home with us now. He can't work anymore so he takes care of us while my mom works now. I never thought a tiny bug could change my life.


Email us to comment on this story, submit one of your own, or start a conversation.

Return to all Written Stories



A necessary step in my life's journey
Healing with Horses by Terri Mongait - Full Version
It was a beautiful Fall day - not too hot, a beautiful sun shining, the scent of dry brush and a subtle sage wafting on the breeze. Bodhi, my 18 yr old quarter horse gelding and I were trotting up the trail.

I had been working with Bodhi, helping him to establish trust in me and to relax on our trail outings. He had this difficult and annoying habit of backing up whenever I asked him to stop. Not terrible if we were in an arena or round pen, but dangerous if we were on a riding trail with any kind of drop off. Apparently this was not a good end of our ride. As my friend Lori has told me, one minute I had Bodhi in an emergency stop, the next I was in the air on my way to a very hard landing - on my head. Not good. Paramedics were called and after they determined I had sustained a possible brain injury I was air lifted to USC Medical Center Intensive Care Unit.

I received an outpouring of love and healing energy from family and friends. I truly believe I am still here because I have healing work, partnered with horses, to do. Both of my horses have played a huge role in my healing. After 2 months of hospital and rehab it was another few weeks before I could go to the barn and see my horses. It was because of my relationship with them that I forced myself up to the barn every morning to care for them and, most importantly, to learn about how my new brain wiring would work, explore my deeper understanding of their communications and to receive their healing energy. Not only were they helping me heal physically, they were helping me heal emotionally and energetically.

Instead of looking at my accident as "poor me, why did this happen?" I choose to look at it as a necessary experience and an opportunity to re-wire the neuro pathways in my brain so I can accept that I do vibrate at a higher frequency than others. How fabulous that I can understand horses (and all animals, but mostly horses and dogs) on a deeper level and I can share their spirit, wisdom and healing with people. My head injury was a necessary step in my life's journey of helping horses heal humans. Every time I'm working with my horses, now that I am aware that I process things differently than I used to, when they react to something I stop and wonder..."hmmm, that's different. What is this about?" I check myself and determine if they are telling me something about me that I might not be aware of, or if something else is going on that I need to focus on. Horses live life in the present moment. An important life lesson that I have come to embrace. This is also tremendously helpful when we are working with clients. The gift of my brain injury is the new ability to be curious and see the joy in every day occurrences. Because I am able to work with horses on a daily basis I find that I smile a whole lot more, I have confidence in myself and I believe that my Equine coaching business is where my passion and joy lie. I get to assist horses in their healing of humans. Everyone benefits.

I would love to help others navigate their own TBi journey with the help my horses. No riding, just talking and soul searching. Contact me through my website Horses2Hearts.com if you want more information, or email me at terri@horses2hearts.com.


Email us to comment on this story, submit one of your own, or start a conversation.

Return to all Written Stories



As a mother and a RN, I knew something was wrong
Jonathan Gipson's Story by his mother, Vickie - Full Version
My son Jonathan is a TBI Survivor. He has always been an awesome athlete, football, baseball, wrestling (went to state 3 years in a row). At 16 years old he sustained a concussion playing football for our local high school. Although he was in and out of consciousiness for about 6 hours he was sent home-- got his "bell rung" according to the coaches and doctors. After that he began having many problems: irritability, difficulty concentrating, severe headaches and severe depression. He knew something was wrong; as a mother and a RN, I knew something was wrong!! We went from doctor to doctor, he was put on medication, therapy... He was a teenager dealing with "issues" of growing up according to doctors and therapists. On March 11, 2007 he took a 32 caliber pistol to his head and pulled the trigger. He had a "non survivable head injury" he survived!! He graduated with his class in May 2008 with a regular diploma with a tech prep seal. He continues to have some problems cognitively, short term memory problems, and mild expressive aphasia.

He is an incredible example of what prayers and determination can do!! He has a great sense of humor, and is longing for the day he can go to college and drive again. He plays softball with our church league, has won a gold medal and a 4th place medal in Special Olympic. He gives everyone a hug at just the right time- it's as tho he has a sense of when somone is down and needs it! He smiles ALL the time! and he is very much aware of his surroundings and his shortcomings...he smiles anyway! Whe someone treats him less than nice he just says' "they don't understand me because I have a brain injury." Everyday he inspires me (his mother) to face the new day and see what it holds in store for us!!


Email us to comment on this story, submit one of your own, or start a conversation.

Return to all Written Stories



Bridging the Gap is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

Logo designed by Danny Blanco
danny_blanco@yahoo.com