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Southern California Edit

Charmaine Shares her Recovery from a TBI

You wouldn’t know it from watching her teach sold-out classes and lighting up our Monarch Beach schedule, but our superstar South-County instructor, Charmaine Shelter, suffered a very serious traumatic brain injury almost two years ago.

Many don’t really have much knowledge about traumatic brain injuries {TBI}-what they are, why they’re so debilitating, and how one recovers from them. According to the Mayo Clinic:

a traumatic brain injury usually results from a violent blow or jolt to the head or body. An object that penetrates brain tissue, such as a bullet or shattered piece of skull, also can cause traumatic brain injury. Mild traumatic brain injury may affect your brain cells temporarily. More-serious traumatic brain injury can result in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding and other physical damage to the brain. These injuries can result in long-term complications or death.”


Charmaine was kind enough to give us more information on her personal story with her TBI and what she does to mitigate its effects.

1. Charmaine, thank you so much for stopping by the blog. Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to suffer your TBI?

I remember this day like it was yesterday- January 30th, 2017. It was the day after the big unveiling of my Ambassador photos at Lululemon Mission Viejo. I was in a warehouse digging through a box & a table {leaning on its side} fell on top of my head. 

2. What were the immediate effects from this event? physically? mentally? emotionally? 

Immediately, I was stunned & confused. I had no idea what hit me. I remembered touching my head repeatedly looking for blood, but luckily it didn’t crack my skull. As the day went on I realized it would be best to visit the doctor {as instructed by my acupuncturist} since I was still in a daze hours later & experiencing light sensitivity with my eyes. I was diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), whiplash & Post Concussion Syndrome. It was an emotional roller coaster. I was scared & everything was in slow motion; my brain simply wouldn’t cooperate with my body.

3. What types of therapy did you have to seek to mitigate these effects? Did they work? What was your timeline of feeling better?

 I visited the E.R. twice, acupuncturist, neurologist, physical therapist & chiropractor. I also worked with LoveYourBrain which is an organization which embodies a positive approach to healing your brain through yoga & meditation.  Each of these specialists & therapists helped me through the different stages of my healing process. The first 4 months were the most challenging. I struggled with migraines, raging anxiety & brain fog for over a year.

4. Do you still seek treatment/therapy for your TBI symptoms?

 Unfortunately, with Post Concussion Syndrome, I am susceptible to flare-ups as a result of high-stress situations. Migraines lead to the onset of post-concussion symptoms, so I visit my acupuncturist regularly.

5. TBI’s are so difficult because on the “outside” sufferers typically “look” fine, but oftentimes there is a ton of pain, discomfort, mental disorder taking place. What did you want the people in your life {family/friends/co-workers} to know about what you were feeling/suffering?

 I was in a very, very, dark place. My brain sent me into a deep depression. I remembered wondering if I would ever be myself…especially a mother again. I couldn’t function, so physical activity & interaction with anyone was too much. I am so grateful for everyone who had patience with me – my students, clients, community, friends & family. A brain injury is an extremely lonely place to live. It’s like being a prisoner in your own body- so every card, social media message, text, meal, flower & phone call was more therapeutic than you could imagine. I shed a lot of tears in gratitude for my support system, so thank you ALL! Mad love to each & every one of you.

6. How often during your present, typical day do you still experience side effects from your TBI? 

Everything is stress induced so if I’m doing too much, the migraines & vertigo come back. Luckily the episodes have become less frequent since I’ve learned what my triggers are.

7. Has GritCycle been therapeutic in your recovery? 

The ride itself was hard with the blue lights, amplified music & movement, but the teachers, staff & community were incredibly helpful & supportive. Grit has been a safe haven for me; to let go & cope with the trauma I’ve endured. It not only challenged me physically but challenged my motor skills & mental strength. At that time I had no desire to become an instructor. I simply wanted to ride because it made me feel good. As I learned more about Grit’s core values, I realized it was much more than a class. Grit has a philanthropic heart for charity. From riding & healing, becoming a LYB {Love Your Brain} teacher, to now teaching at Grit for a year & successfully hosting a LYB Karma Ride- within two years of my recovery it’s pretty cool to see how this has come full circle.

Thank you Charmaine for sharing your story. We are so grateful to have you in our GritCycle family.