Message of hope
Amanda Lund is a wife, mother and successful businesswoman who just happens to have a traumatic brain injury.
“I don’t want my brain injury to define who I am,” Lund said. Instead, she hopes to be a role model for others by demonstrating that disabilities or difficulties don’t have to hold you back. An accident that left her with long-term complications related to memory, reading comprehension and depth perception haven’t stopped her from making the most of life, including running a business that saw $500,000 in sales last year.
“I am doing it so what’s your reason for not doing it? It’s all about your drive and your mindset and why you want to do this. I love what I do. It’s given me a sense of empowerment,” she said.
Her story was chosen to be part of a traumatic brain injury awareness campaign, “Know Your Noggin,” that launched in North Dakota in late February. Amanda is one of six North Dakotans who tell their personal stories through the campaign.
The North Dakota Brain Injury Network and North Dakota Department of Human Services are co-sponsoring the campaign, using television, radio, print, online and outdoor marketing. The timing of the campaign coincides with the designation of March as Brain Injury Awareness Month.
Brain injury is caused by an external impact, usually a violent blow to the head. Often associated with young athletes, there’s a particular risk to small children and seniors from falls. The repercussions of an injury vary and can affect ability to think and solve problems, move and speak, or control behavior, emotions and reactions.
More than 13,000 North Dakotans currently live with long-term disabilities related to traumatic brain injuries, and an estimated 3,700 residents sustain TBIs each year, according to North Dakota Brain Injury Network.
Lund, 37, suffered a traumatic brain injury six years ago, about a year before she and her family moved to Minot from Minnesota. She was leaving her house to take her children to daycare when she tripped on a pumpkin – an autumn decoration on the steps of their home. Holding a coffee cup in one hand and lunchbag in the other, she fell head first and was knocked unconscious. Her husband, Josh, was home and was able to get her medical attention.
The severity of the injury was aggravated by previous multiple concussions Amanda sustained during a five-year abusive relationship prior to marrying Josh. Receiving out-patient and occupational therapy services, she had to re-train to do even simple household chores.
“They (doctors) said you will never work again. That was hard for me,” said Lund, a college graduate who had a successful career in retail and store startups. “I lost my job over my brain injury because I couldn’t remember things.”
Initially, Lund said, she experienced horrible anxiety.
“I couldn’t go to the grocery store. I couldn’t go any place by myself because I was afraid I wouldn’t remember where I was,” she said. “I was so used to being so independent. Now I couldn’t remember where I set things down.”
She said her brain still has a 24-hour delay in recall, requiring her to use a variety of memory tools and reminder notes.
Her lack of depth perception requires her to be more cautious – touching a table before setting a dish on it, for instance. She said she broke enough dishes that she decided to switch to Tupperware products for her home. That led her to become a Tupperware consultant two years ago. At a Tupperware meeting, a regional manager made a comment that struck a chord with her as she sought to overcome her disability: “In life, you have choices or you have excuses, but you can’t have both.”
Today, Lund is a Tupperware two-star director with 150 associated consultants in 10 states. Rather than let her brain injury stop her, she finds ways to work around it. She often uses live videos to communicate with consultants because of her TBI’s interference with writing and reading.
“I used to love to read books,” she said. Now her memory doesn’t retain written information. To be comprehended, information needs to be converted to an auditory form, such as having someone read aloud to her.
Her success in overcoming her challenges has led to Lund being featured on Tupperware’s corporate website. She shared her personal story at a national Tupperware conference before 3,000 people.
Lund said it was difficult to open up about her story at first.
“It was something I was ashamed of, because I didn’t want to be looked at as different from everybody else. I just wanted to power through,” she said. She’s come to realize that her story as a domestic violence and brain injury survivor can be an encouragement to others. Making that discovery has been both humbling and rewarding for her.
“I am a survivor,” she said. “I have been blessed in my journey and I want to give that back.”
From March 11 to 31, she is giving back through a Tupperware sale in which customers can buy Shape-O ball toys from her at a discount and donate them to the Domestic Violence Crisis Center in Minot. She will be waiving her commission so all proceeds can go toward the project goal to provide 100 Shape-O toys for children at the crisis center. Information about the event will be posted on her Facebook page, Amanda’s Kitchen Remedies.
A classic, educational toy, the Shape-O holds a special place in Tupperware inventory for Lund. Part of the draw to become a Tupperware consultant was the desire to obtain a pink and purple Shape-O for her daughter.
She and Josh, a Minot police officer, have two sons, ages 10 and 8, and a daughter, 3.
“I just want to set the example for my kids, especially my oldest with autism. I don’t want that to define him. If you decide to put your mind to it and really give it everything, you can do this,” Lund said.
Despite having difficult days on occasion, Lund remains optimistic, thanks to support from family and the TBI service community.
“I have a whole lot more of life to live,” she said. “I think the sky is going to be the limit. I am excited to see what’s going to be in store.”
For more information about traumatic brain injuries, visit KnowYourNogginND.com or ndbin.org. The television commercial featuring Lund also can be viewed at KnowYourNogginND.com.