b'the NOGGINpresents BIAAZ Profiles of InterestShining the spotlight on those raising their voice, lending a hand, and making a difference in the brain injury community PERSON OF INTEREST: Danielle SkranakFORMER ROLE:Correctional Specialist in the Army; responsible for the custody and control of 400 military inmates at Fort Leavenworth, Kansasally relied on friends and family to fill in the blanks of my CURRENT TITLES:memories, like who I went to senior prom with, for exam-Miss Gilbert 2020; ASU Graduate; Harvard MBA Studentple. For those who havent experienced it, you dont realize what youve forgotten until people bring stuff up you cant CALL OF DUTY:remember. I felt very lost, lost in a maze of trying to figure At age 19, I enlisted in the Army, completed basic training,things out. I felt like I was trying to open a door that was and served honorably for two years. My contract ended earlylocked. It was speaking with other people who knew me that due to my TBI, but now I am able to serve my country in ahelped open the door to my memories. Eventually, through difference capacity, through the Miss Arizona Organization. multiple testing at the VA hospital, they found residuals of a TBI and I was able to retire from the Army.PERSONAL AFFILIATION WITH BRAIN INJURY:OVERCOMING OBSTACLES:I was in my second week of basic training in the Army, and during a training exercise, the solider in front of meAs for my current, ongoing symptoms, theres still a lot of dropped his combat helmet. I tripped over it and because Iforgetfulness, but its mostly short-term. Fortunately, a lot was carrying 50 pounds of gear, I had nothing to break myof my long-term memory came back through rehabilitation fall except my head, which landed directly on the concrete. exercises. There is still a lot of anxieties regarding, am I making this all up in my head? because TBIs are an in-NAVIGATING THE UPS AND DOWNS OF A TBI:visible disability and its hard to quantitate how far along In my life, my injury has brought a lot of uncertainty. I keptyou are in the recovery process. One thing I have noticed being told by neurologists and specialists that my MRI/CTsince the accident and explaining my invisible disability is scans didnt show any evidence of a TBI. My doctors evenpeople will always assume that its fake, and it has made it prescribed a medicine that only further hindered my recov- a struggle to ask for help. ery. I started to feel like maybe everything I was experienc- Even through this journey, I still made it a priority to finish ing was all in my head, almost like I was lying to myself.college, and I was able to complete my degree at Arizona However, I noticed that my personality was night and dayState University, with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Jus-different before and after my basic training TBI accident. Itice & Criminology. The biggest struggle I have found when kept having headaches and migraines, as well as extremeit comes to school is having to read the information a couple mood changes; I would be happy one second and sad thetimes before it sticks and remembering when assignments next. I didnt even notice the long-term memory loss untilare due. But I have since created journals and planners to after I graduated basic training. It got to a point where I re- help me stay on track as I continue my education at Harvard.15The Noggin | 2020vol 5issue 2'