Eighteen years ago Carole Starr was a teacher and amateur musician. On July 6, 1999 she was broadsided in a car accident—and she was completely unprepared for the way her life would change.
When she tried to go back to work 6-8 weeks later, it became apparent that more was wrong than just whiplash. It was only then that doctors told Carole she had suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
She couldn’t understand her extreme fatigue and heightened sensitivity to sound. She had to quit playing music because she couldn’t tolerate the sound, and would have to nap after teaching for just two hours. She was frustrated that she couldn’t just push through it.
About a year into her journey, she went to an in-patient rehab center. She states that this was the worst year of her life, because she kept failing at everything she attempted. She remembers that she would go to the grocery store and buy more ranch dressing, because she didn’t remember she already had a shelf full at home.
Once she began rehab, she started to understand more about TBI and why everything was so challenging for her. At the time she believed she would make a full recovery within five years.
It took Carole about eight years to come to accept her injury and that she wasn’t going to get her old life back. That’s when she turned her attention away from getting the old Carole back to the new Carole she wanted to become.
In a recent podcast interview, Carole talked about journaling her recovery. “I used to journal every single day. After my injury writing got really challenging. I wrote bits and pieces, sometimes I could write only a few sentences before the fatigue would take over. Writing for me was a way to process my experience.”
“I remember being real down on myself because I couldn’t write in the same way I had before.”
It was through her journaling that she came to write her book, To Root and To Rise. Her book is a workbook entwined with her memoir, and designed in such a way that readers can pick and choose which chapters to read, and they don’t have to read them in order. Carole’s teaching roots come out in this book that almost resembles a textbook with space for self-reflection after each chapter.