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About My New Normal

Suzanne Tobin is a former copy editor and designer for The Washington Post. At 59, in great health and working full-time as a copy editor for AARP, Suzanne was planning a trip to London to celebrate her 60th birthday, when everything changed. She experienced a series of seemingly unrelated health complications... Read more

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Living in Montgomery County Saved My Life

Suzanne Tobin on far left in red shirt, at a 71st birthday celebration for her oldest sister, Cornelia (seated) who had a different type of brain injury, viral encephalitis, in 1996.

Allow me to introduce myself: I am a brain injury survivor and a medical miracle.

If I had lived any place other than Montgomery County, I’m not sure I would have made it to my 60th birthday.

I barely made it to the correct diagnosis, just under the six-month time frame before the rare viral infection that invaded my brain usually kills its victims.

I am here today because Dr. Zurab Nadarashvili, the director of the Suburban Hospital stroke center, arranged for me to be admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital inpatient neurology unit in Baltimore, after the umpteenth test for my diagnosed “stroke” came back negative.

I believe his humility and his willingness to say simply, “I don’t know” saved my life.

Four months later, in April 2014, my outpatient doctor from Johns Hopkins recommended me for two studies at NIH, where I’ve been monitored and tracked for any blip in my bloodwork. There still is no proven treatment for either of my rare conditions, but they’re working on it. I just received my four-year checkup Aug.30 and the virus is still present but only been proven to work against the virus in petri dishes, not humans, but if it has slowed down the virus from continuing to ravage my brain, I’m all in.

The resources I’ve found here in our county, including the Brain Injury Association’s support group at Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital, have helped me continue to feel that “Life Is Good.”

I leave no stone unturned when it comes to therapy.  You name a therapy, I’ve done it.

I have had physical, occupational, speech and cognitive therapy. I also found more specialized therapists here in Montgomery County: neuro-optometric therapy to promote neuroplasticity (rewiring around the damaged parts of my brain).

I have made getting better my full-time job. When I have the energy, I write a WordPress blog for brain injury survivors and their caregivers, at

Is this a great place to live or what?

If you are a brain injury survivor, or love one of us, I invite you to come on this journey with me.

Feel free to contact me through this blog or by e-mail at


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Suzanne Tobin

About Suzanne Tobin

Suzanne Tobin is a former copy editor and designer for The Washington Post.


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