Landa Davis-Twete – I am a Brain Injury Survivor
Landa Davis-Twete has dealt with her multiple brain injuries. She shares her story about the importance of finding the right care team, treatment, and never giving up. She hopes to provide inspiration to others who may be struggling with finding providers and finding the “new” you.
“It took me 20 years before coming to Fargo, North Dakota, to get a good medical team that actually saved my life. I owe them a lot and I'm grateful for all the patience and support they have given me.”
Landa Davis-Twete was diagnosed in 2000 with a mysterious neurological disorder called functional neurological disorder, where the brain misfires retrieving and sending signals to the nervous system and can lead to other kinds of problems within the body. She went through six months of physical and occupational therapy and counseling, although she had trouble finding a counselor that was the right fit.
Many survivors struggle with finding a counselor that is right for them. NDBIN encourages you to contact us if this is the case, and we can try and help you find someone who is a good fit.
Landa was in her 40s in February of 2015 when she sustained her first diagnosed brain injury as the result of a motor vehicle accident. Following that accident, she started having severe migraines. On her way to work at a nursing home, she started feeling numbness on her face and lips. She pulled over and her right leg was also “feeling funny,” so she bought some orange juice from a gas station thinking that would help. It did not.
When she returned to work her vitals were checked and it was recommended that she go to urgent care. The doctor at urgent care immediately called an ambulance as a stroke precaution. She couldn't walk or talk properly and began to experience her first seizure.
Further exploration revealed a grape-sized arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in her brain; which if it erupted or bled, could lead to a stroke or aneurysm. Due to her brain injuries and mysterious neurological problems, she has had numerous falls and sustained additional concussions.
“A neurosurgeon in Spokane, Washington, came in and explained to my family, and my husband at the time, that something had to be done because my life was at risk. I had no idea the AVM was there. They are almost always congenital. With the trauma, it became active and caused problems to my brain, so it had to be dealt with immediately.
In 2016, because it was so deep in my brain, my neurosurgeon consulted with other team members and our family and we decided to try a gamma knife procedure. The goal was to radiate the mass and shrink it down to reduce my chances of a brain bleed. I had two arthrograms done to check on the process of the AVM and in 2018 it looked like it was gone. Unfortunately, when I was in Florida from May to December 2018, I was in two more car accidents and my right side became full of edema (excess fluid). In April 2020, I had to have an emergency right-sided craniotomy and removal of necrotic tissue where my AVM was.”
The New Landa
“I am learning to accept the new me, but it's a healing process. I am discovering the new Landa, and it's exciting at the same time. It's like springtime when buds start to blossom on a tree. It's new again. I may have learned to walk many times over the years, but you just take one step at a time and push forward, baby steps. We may fall, or lose a friend, family member, or a few steps here or there, but you just have to get back up and try again because that is what you do, to not give up!”
As many survivors can relate, Landa reflected on the changes in her personal life. “I'm not the same person I was in 2015 when I had my ﬁrst accident, and that was especially hard on my close friends and family. It's a constant struggle to explain neurological side effects to them when they are not going through it themselves, but I hope in time it will get better. I am a positive person and looking at each day as a new day to start with a smile and giggle! It's been a long road and it's going to be a life journey, but I'm not going to give up.”
Landa plans to take her story on the road and inspire others. “My goal in the next 10 years is to become an inspirational speaker. I have seen so many people in despair, with similar circumstances that I have gone through, and it breaks my heart. I want to give people hope and let individuals know that even though it took me 21 years to find a good medical team and proper treatment, it was worth it. Yes, you are going to have highs and lows and feel like giving up or feel like you are going crazy at times, but you really are not, because there is help out there. You just have to find the right help and it takes time.”
When asked what kinds of advice she has for other survivors, Landa says, “My advice would be to get involved in support groups. It's helped me a great deal with my injury. Find resources in the community, social media, get awareness out there and get your voice heard – don't be silent, it's okay to express yourself.”
Landa has been chosen out of 300 people internationally to speak with other survivors on October 9 and 10 at the Virtual Non-Epileptic/Functional Seizure Conference. “It's a huge honor and I am truly excited to be a part of it!” Landa said on being chosen to speak.
Landa also credits her family and friends that have helped her a great deal in many ways through the years, even though it's been hard to understand why these things happen or the changes occur. She was taught to believe in miracles and have faith so that has helped her through many tough battles.
Landa's story is one of perseverance. Brain injuries really throw a wrench into individuals' plans, but as you can tell from the photos portrayed throughout this article, Landa chose to do so with a smile on her face. NDBIN wants to take this time to remind all of our survivors the Zig Ziglar quote, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” If you are struggling with your injury and finding the correct therapies or providers, please let us help. Contact us today.