Local author outlines her methods to recover after concussions.
As she struggled to recover from traumatic brain injury, Susana Stoica made herself a promise: Once she was well, she’d write a book to help others facing the same challenges. She has completed that mission with Heal Your Brain, Reclaim Your Life — How to Recover and Thrive After Concussion, and she spoke at Harvard Medical School in July to share her expertise at a conference.
Fifteen years ago, Stoica slipped on ice twice in the same day, banging her head hard enough to suffer frontal brain injury.
“It was a sunny day, but I saw a starry night,” she said of her twin falls in two different parking lots, which left her with tunnel vision, headaches, muddled thinking and a host of other ailments.
“I had unbearable pain. I couldn’t concentrate or figure things out, and my senses of smell and taste were completely gone,” she said. “I kept falling asleep uncontrollably, and I was very afraid I would be committed to a mental hospital.”
Desperate to recover her full mental capabilities, Stoica tried just about everything in her quest for relief. “Whatever people told me to try I would, but it was a ton of money and most was not useful.”
A Surprising Discovery
It was a dramatic comedown for Stoica, now 72, who’d earned her Ph.D. with a thesis in building computers with circuits modeling brain cell functionality and was at the top of her game as an auto engineer. Born in Romania, she moved to the United States in 1985 and enjoyed a successful 35-year career, retiring from Ford in 2004 as a senior technical specialist.
All the while, Stoica was also working as an energy healer, a talent she discovered in 1982 while researching ways to help her husband with his back problems. She was practicing on a partner at a workshop on a Chinese technique called polarity therapy when her hands started moving spontaneously above the woman’s body.
“My hands took off and started moving by themselves,” she recalled. “I couldn’t stop them.”
The woman reported instant relief from her chronic breathing problems, “which really scared me,” Stoica said. “I was in shock.”
It took her a few years to come to terms with the fact she was a natural healer. Her family was not exactly supportive.
“Once you discover you are a healer, you cannot stop — and I tried to stop many times. My family saw me as so successful as an engineer, why give it up for ‘voodoo?’” said Stoica of West Bloomfield. “I have literally had people tell me they fear I will hex them. I tell them, ‘I can assure you I have no intention of being the devil.’ But I understand perfectly because I had a real problem when I discovered I was capable of doing healing.”
She wrote her first book about the experience, Reluctant Healer, in 1996 and expanded it in 2016. “It’s a very easy introduction to energy healing so people like me can get into it and figure out what is going on,” she said.
A Painful Recovery
Despite her healing abilities, Stoica faced a long, difficult road after her own brain injury. “It was like trying to climb a mountain of sand,” she said. She became despondent and contemplated suicide. Then she realized while her life would never be the same, it was still worth living.
“I had to give up the idea of being the person I was before the accident,” she said, “and realize that I would not give up.”
Heal Your Brain, Reclaim Your Life helps people who have suffered a concussion or stroke do just that with practical tips and compassionate insight. Those who experience a brain injury should immediately seek medical attention and have an MRI to ensure there is no internal bleeding, Stoica said. After that, she advises to “rest as much as possible — no music, no strong smells, no traveling, eat only very light food and drink lots of water, all so the body can concentrate on healing.”
She also advises seeing a chiropractor or orthopedic doctor to “make sure all the bones are in the right place,” practicing meditation and doing logic exercises like puzzles to stimulate the brain.
Stoica used to love being in the kitchen creating a week’s worth of meals at a time, but after her brain injury, “I couldn’t cook for beans,” she said. She has slowly regained her culinary talents and is now writing Cooking After Brain Injury: Easy Cooking for Recovery.
Energy healing manipulates, restores or balances the flow of energy in the body. It helps remove blockages so the body can activate its own natural healing ability.
Among the people Stoica has helped is Ann Wagenberg, who she met while living in Israel in 1978. “She was losing her eyesight and the doctors could not do anything for her,” Stoica said. “Luckily, I was able to help her heal and she regained her eyesight completely.”
The two have kept in touch via Skype and become friends. “She invested years of studying and being a very compassionate, loving person who is ready to help alleviate suffering,” Wagenberg said via email. “I have benefited greatly from our serious and honest relationship.”
Stoica often works remotely with people as far away as Australia and Europe. “They send me four pictures of their body from head to toe and I send them a text letting them know when I start and finish the healing,” she explained. “The healer does not heal — the healer enables the energy field to relax so our innate capacity for self-healing kicks in.
“It sounds impossible, but I can see the trauma in the energy field and can balance it,” she said. “If you have the intent of helping the person, nothing bad can happen. The worst that ever happens is that they fall asleep because their trauma was released. But I do not diagnose, and I can’t cure. If you claim to do either of those as a healer, you are in deep trouble.”
Stoica, who will speak at 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, along with other local authors at the Jewish Book Fair at the Jewish Community Center, is not a traditionally religious or practicing Jew, but says she believes in God.
“I know there must be a God because things have happened in my practice that could not have happened otherwise,” she said. “The beauty of the human body is just amazing, and there has to be an intelligent being behind it.”
Just In Case
Traumatic brain injury often comes out of the blue as a result of a fall or accident. Stoica recommends that everyone, regardless of age, prepare a baseline of their own brain functionality just in case it happens to them.
Simply read two pieces of literature and write up a brief report, she recommends, and do some logic games like sudoku. Parents can have their child repeat the exercise as they age. File the results away in case they are ever needed.
“This gives doctors a very cheap, very easy tool to give a more accurate diagnosis,” she said. “And it can help detect early dementia with older people.”