New 52 Batgirl flying through stormy city skyline via grappling hook

How Batgirl Saved Me

Babs did me a 24K solid during my TBI recovery

Okay, she didn’t really save my life.

But, she did something else that’s valuable: her character boosted my confidence at a time when I had ambitious goals to achieve but little strength and guidance with which to do so.

She ended up being a strong female role model whom I’d tap for strength and whose example I learned from when I felt lost and confused. The New 52 Batgirl also happens to be a big influence for Shroom Raider—so, I’ll give a little context on why Barbara Gordon is a great influence for Amanita Jones (or anyone else for that matter).

New 52 Batgirl flying through stormy city skyline via grappling hook

New 52 Batgirl | ©DC Entertainment

If you enjoy DC comics, you may know Gail Simone’s work well. She is a considerable influence on the style of Shroom Raider. . .in fact, Simone’s Batgirl trade paperbacks were the first thing I remember reading when I awoke from my coma in October 2014.

Wait, waitwhat? Coma?

I awoke from a week-long coma in an ambulance (not that I had any idea what ambulances were at that point), rumbling along to the 3rd hospital I’d stay at after getting a rash of TBIs (Traumatic Brain Injuries). I was hit by a drunk driver on October 4th 2014. He drove his Ford F150 into my left hip and sent me flying 40+ feet onto my forehead.

Comatose Taylor in hospital

The impact skid marks on my forehead left scars, but they’re gone now! Woohoo!

Let me tell you, recovering from TBIs feels like undergoing adolescence again. Actually, I could only describe what I personally felt upon waking as being “born again.” Pretty strange feeling. I’m just glad I didn’t have to go back to high schoolbut I did have to earn my driver’s license a second time. Naturally, the State revokes it if you contract a TBI.

The recovery process is like undergoing a second adolescence

The Feds don’t go easy on you either: did you know that over two-thirds1 of SSDI applicants are denied benefits? They must undergo lengthy appeals processes to prove they’re in need (the litigation often takes years). So, I’m grateful that I’ve been able to keep jobs after my severe TBI.2 And, I know it only helped to have Barbara Gordon as a fictional role model while I struggled to recover some semblance of my former life.

Taylor at rehab1

The netted bed I was confined to for hours daily

Following the injury,* my partner bought The New 52 Batgirl comics for me. As soon as I cared about reading again, after a few weeks, I absorbed Barbara Gordon’s story. I found in it a figure I could relate to from the confines of my netted bed. The story of a woman who struggles to regain her abilities after a devastating injury. And her ability to walk was stolen from her in an instant—boy, did I relate to that.

Taylor hospital-Vallejo2

I eventually regained my balance thanks to the generosity of many.

The New 52 Barbara Gordon is funny, smart and imperfect3, and I relate to her struggle to regain former balance despite severe trauma and disability. For Barbara Gordon, this involves maintaining a convoluted docket of work and superheroingnot to mention personal life management, which involves roommate conflicts, romantic relationships (with her own therapist even), family disagreements and so much more.

Barbara’s wit, strength and courage helped me find my footing under pressure

In my personal experience, Barbara Gordon is an apt and wonderful role model for Traumatic Brain Injury survivors. If you are helping anyone heal from trauma and acclimate to a new way of living, you can help them rebuild self-confidence by gifting them The New 52 Batgirl comics. The comics helped me see my potential and aid redevelopment of my moral compass throughout a lengthy recovery.* I believe they’ve helped others too.

 

*the distinction between the words “accident” and “injury” are important to know if you want to understand this TBI survivor’s perspective. The man behind the steering wheel of that Ford F150 accelerated into me. There was no evidence he tried to stop (no skid marks found onsite). He made a mistake. But the situation wasn’t unexpected given the circumstances.  It wasn’t an accident.
*the term “recovery” is another one…the process is made one-dimensional by this term.

1 http://www.headinjuryrehab.org/assets/files/headinjuryrehab%20SSD.pdf

2 http://www.traumaticbraininjury.com/symptoms-of-tbi/severe-tbi-symptoms/

3 https://wtfdccomics.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/new-52-batgirl/

Credits

Thanks to my Dad, Ben Devarie, for the photos

Thanks to the many, many people who donated to my GoFundMe fundraiser and helped me in other forms during my time of need (we know who you are)

Thanks to all I might have forgotten

And thanks to you for reading this. This post is important to me.

 

Traffic on the 880 south due to an unforeseen closure

2400

Sitting in heavy 880 South freeway traffic due to an unforeseen closure.

In gridlock on a closed 880 South

Left out at 2130. Stopped at 2145. Haven’t moved since then. It’s now 2304.

 

Asphalt grinds as headlights glow and fade; cars about face on a closed freeway as I grow impatient.

 

I call a loved one for advice in this gridlocked traffic I’ve never encountered – maybe I can glean comfort from somewhere, anywhere? This sea of autos holds no respite from my frustration and uncertainty.

 

2330. I should ridden the BART into work tonight, right? Except I’d have to sleep in a noisy, lit environment.

 

But I wouldn’t be the only package handler under cover from fluorescents that seep through eyeshades and guide employees through hallways. Not the only one using public transportation who needs to grind to pay bills.

 

Too late now for making this shift. I’ll certainly make my 0330 shift.

 

But will I even make it there by 2400?

 

(note: 2400 = 12:00am in military time, which is how FedEx employees use time on timecards, etc. Noting here that in standard usage we revert to 0000 after 2359, at FedEx at least. Also, ended up calling in sick that day.)