Pictured are Jamie Powell and her sons, Cameron and Christian. A benefit will be held for Jamie at the Sherrill American Legion Aug. 25.
By Franci Valenzano
(Oneida, Sherrill) It’s the simple things in life that mean the most to Jamie Powell—watching her children do new tricks on their bikes, grilling with her boyfriend, talking on the phone with her mom—even deciding what to wear to work.
Five months ago, the single mother of two young boys suffered a massive brain hemorrhage that nearly ended her life. Since then, everything around her has taken on a new meaning.
Powell, of Oneida, wants her story to inspire others to never lose hope, something that’s helped the tenacious 29-year-old regain her life and embrace it differently.
Her infectious optimism has spread to a local community which has joined forces to help with her towering medical costs. A benefit for Jamie Powell will be held on Aug. 25, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Sherrill American Legion, Post 230 located on East Seneca Street, Sherrill. There will be musical entertainment, food, chances to win various donations, and more.
“The outpouring from the community makes my heart melt,” Powell said with wavering gratitude in her voice. “It’s amazing to see the number of people willing to help and the extent to which they are willing to go for someone many of them hardly know.”
Life was good for Powell. She had her own house, a full-time job she loved and everything on her side so it seemed. Her world turned upside down on March 3 when her boyfriend, Eric Jones, rushed her to Oneida City Hospital after she’d been complaining about what felt like a migraine headache and her speech became slurred.
By the time she reached the hospital, her vision had blurred and everything around her seemed to be fading away. It was the last thing she would remember for nearly 48 hours.
Following a CT scan, Powell was immediately transferred to University Hospital in Syracuse where she underwent emergency surgery to repair the large hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain). Her family kept a vigil by her side.
“Doctors could not tell us if she would survive and if she did, if she would ever live a normal life again,” said Powell’s mother, Jill Evans, of Sherrill.
“When I went to the hospital I was desperate to see her,” Evans said with tear-filled eyes. “I just needed to hold her hand and felt that when I did, I could give her my strength and she would be okay. I wasn’t ready to let go.”
During the surgery, doctors removed the frontal right bone flap of her skull. As the clock ticked past two days in a drug-induced coma, Powell awakened. Surprisingly, within 20 minutes after her breathing tube was removed, she was talking although she couldn’t remember anything that had happened, the date or the name of the president of the United States.
Gradually, things got better. Her memory improved and she was able to walk with assistance. She spent a total of 17 days in the hospital, undergoing intense rehabilitation, before she was cleared to go home.
Powell required a second surgery to replace the missing bone in her skull with a synthetic plate. Despite a complication in which her body absorbed the synthetic membrane, the surgery was a success.
Through months of rehabilitation which she continued at home, Powell made progress. Every day she was able to do something she wasn’t the day before, such as tie her shoes or put on her own socks. She eventually returned to her job as a business and sales manager at a software company in Utica.
“When all of this happened, I never asked why me,” said Powell who also had to shed her long blonde locks. “I told myself I can sit around and cry all day or accept what happened and move on.”
Today, Powell is focusing on spending as much time as she can with family and friends and her sons, Christian, 7, and Cameron, 8 and doesn’t let the “little things” in life bother her anymore.
Although there are few visible signs of all Powell has been through, she still has some cognitive limitations and suffers from mild left side neglect, an attention disorder in which the brain is unaware of, and therefore neglects, the recovering side.
Powell hopes what happened to her sends a strong message to others facing adversity in their lives. “Never underestimate the power of the human spirit,” she said.
Tickets for Powell’s benefit are $15 and $5 for children under 10. They can be purchased at the Sherrill Legion or by calling Tammy Moore at 361-1652 or the legion at 363-3920. Donations can also be made to the Sherrill American Legion, Post 230 in care of Powell.