Diagnosis and Rehabilitation

Shelby was induced into a coma at the beginning of December. During this time, the doctors and nurses in the Neurology department of Austin Hospital  worked hard to find out was wrong with her.  

“What I was diagnosed with was NMDA Receptor Encephalitis. My body was affected by a teratoma cyst on one of my ovaries. This flipped out my cells and they started attacking the brain tissue on the cyst, then quickly moved onto attacking my brain,” Shelby said.  

Shelby was in hospital and from November 2017 until January 2018, and then moved onto rehabilitation from January through to February 2018. Her rehabilitation included relearning how to walk, shower, and take care of herself, working on her speech and challenging her memory to help build it back up. ”I spent a few weeks in a wheelchair while I was still too fragile and weak to walk, until I moved on to a four-wheel walker for a further three months,” Shelby said.  

“It’s been a really long two years since I was first admitted to hospital, and I’m still not properly cleared to do a lot of stuff that most people can, but I’m really pushing through everything to try to become the best version of myself that I can be. I’m not yet doing everything most people my age are but I’m back at uni and it feels great knowing how far I’ve come through it all,” Shelby said.  

Hold On To Hope

Shelby is now living in Brisbane, running a clothing company called Brain Drain Co. inspired by her experience and study of a Bachelor in Entertainment Business Management at JMC Academy. As part of her studies, she was given an assignment to run and produce an event. Shelby decided to run a fundraiser with all proceeds going to Synapse. The event was a community market day held in December 2019, with live music, market stalls, a record rummage and a raffle.   

Shelby chose to raise awareness about Synapse because she wants people to understand what’s available to them, their friends, their families and their wider communities. Having been through the recovery and rehabilitation process herself, Shelby recognises the vital importance of support following a brain injury.  

“In hospital I felt beyond supported, as did my parents. However, when I was discharged from rehab I did feel a little unsupported at times. I was lucky that my parents had moved down to Melbourne to rent a house with me and helped me in the times that I really needed help. I found out about Synapse after my rehabilitationbut I feel so grateful that organisations like Synapse exist to support people through their journey, and I wish that there was greater awareness of  all the work they currently do,” Shelby said.  

Shelby says that Brain Drain Co, and subsequently the “Have Hope” and “Hold On” designs that she has launched, are the result of her recovery. Shelby created the designs for people to connect to, and to create something that encourages others to heal. 

“To anyone who’s going through a tough time right now, Hold On To Hope. You’ve got this and we’re in it together,” Shelby said.