After 10 Days in a Coma, I Had to Relearn Everything

Brooke Knisley

(Huff Post) – In 2015, I fell 20 to 25 feet out of a tree. All of my medical records list different heights since no one knew the precise distance — that detail feels important to me.

The person I had been climbing with said we were near the top of a redwood on the University of California, Santa Cruz’s campus when I turned to her and said, “I have to get down. Now.” Then, without waiting for a response, I scrambled downward until I was out of sight. A moment later, she heard two smacks followed by a thud.

Before I fell out of the redwood, I was drinking alcohol every day. In fact, I had been drinking pretty consistently since the age of 14. To say I simply had a “drinking problem” would be a gross understatement.

Often, I’d get C’s (or lower) in classes at UC Santa Cruz simply because I’d forget to turn in an assignment or get hammered and decide not to write an essay. One teacher’s assistant, after grading a paper I had managed to get in on time, handed it back to me, marked with an A, and gave me a line similar to the one Dr. Octavius gave Peter Parker in “Spider-Man 2”: “You’re brilliant when you turn things in. Imagine if you were more diligent.”

In my head, I translated this to: “Imagine if you weren’t depressed, … if you weren’t a drunk, … if you were just a better person.” CONTINUE