It was a clear day on Sept. 25, 2009 when Jennifer Winche put on her high-visibility gear to begin her shift as a traffic controller on Ladner Trunk Road.
She had been on the job for eight months and knew she had an important job to do to keep workers on the road safe.
As she was holding up her stop sign to halt traffic, an SUV travelling about 80 kilometres an hour, headed towards her and didn’t stop.
Whether the sun was in the driver’s eyes, or the motorist simply didn’t see her, Winche doesn’t know. When the vehicle slammed into her, she was ejected out of her steel-toed boots and thrown across the street. She landed in front of a coworker with broken bones throughout her body. She couldn’t move.
Winche was technically dead.
Miraculously, she was revived by first responders and was airlifted to hospital in critical condition. Her pelvis was shattered, her ribs were cracked and her arms were broken, as well as her nose, chest and cheeks.
Winche underwent several surgeries and was in an induced coma for six days.
When she awoke, she could hardly move and she couldn’t remember a thing, including her boyfriend.
Winche was diagnosed with severe brain damage – her long-term memory gone.
Now, almost five years later, the 28-year-old is still in constant pain and sees a physiotherapist regularly. She has trouble with visual information and is sometimes slow at processing things she has learned.
But the most difficult thing is not having early memories, like spending time with her grandmother before she passed away.
“Not being able to have these memories is emotionally hard,” said Winche, who is sharing her story about how she is recovering from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the Chicken Soup for the Soul’s newest collection of stories.
Winche’s four-page story called “My Ray of Sunshine,” isn’t about the struggles and difficulties she has been through – it’s about hope and having a positive attitude.
Winche had met Ray, her husband-to-be, just 10 days before she was injured on the job, but it was the accident that brought them closer together.
“He showed love, patience, kindness, thoughtfulness, and every other virtue that I admired,” writes Winche in her story. “I recognized how selfless it was for him to support and encourage me, while constantly trying to make me happy.”
With Ray on her side, Winche learned to do things all over again, such as feed herself and get dressed, and slowly gained back her independence.
Winche, who now lives in Mission, even learned to walk again and was able to walk down the aisle two years after the accident to marry Ray.
Today, Winche doesn’t focus on the long, hard road she has travelled. She appreciates the present and looks forward to enjoying her life in the future, especially with her three-month-old daughter, Serenity.
There is a lot more Winche would’ve liked to have shared, but the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul series has a 2,000-word limit on each story. While she was “completely excited” her tale caught the attention of the book’s editors, Winche has not ruled out writing one of her own.
Contributors in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries share their experiences on what it’s like to live with a TBI. There are also stories from caregivers who share strategies to cope and never given up.
A portion of the royalties from the sale of the book will support the Bob Woodruff Foundation, an organization that funds innovative programs to help injured veterans thrive after they return home.
For more information about Chicken Soup books, visit chickensoup.com.