top of page

René Ready

Author    Photographer    Occupational Therapist (R)

About The Book

“Living in Shitville - What an Invisible Brain Injury Feels Like”

How do you explain a brain injury to someone

when you look like you’re doing fine?


In May 2018, a compressed air accident at the dentist

sent me home with a brain injury.

My 31-year career as an occupational therapist was over.

Welcome to life in Shitville.

Living with brain injury and reading about it in textbooks

were not the same thing.


I hope to provide family members,

friends, coworkers, professionals, caregivers, anyone,

with insights into the daily struggles of living

with brain injury while looking normal.


I hope the easy-to-read layout

will help others with visual processing difficulties

to read about brain injury.


This is a story about the grueling stages of anger,

frustration, grief, and sadness to find the new “you”.

It took a 9,461-mile solo road trip and time away from home

to find my new identity, meaning, and purpose in life.


Cars moving

People moving

Sick feeling in my stomach

Am I moving?

Or not?


Relaxing in a chair,

my brain sloshing around in my head. 

Sitting in a small boat,

bobbing on the waves of the ocean.

Standing on the edge of the canyon

Monument Valley on the horizon

I let my occupational therapy licenses lapse

after 3 years of struggling to maintain it.

It was too hard to meet the

continued education requirements.

I was officially useless.

Without a job permanently.

Funeral flowers for my profession, my identity.

The Death no one knew about.

The funeral for one.

Got out of bed for sunrise,

and how worthwhile it was!

A picture of my favorite tree in Canyonlands National Park.

I woke up feeling like something exploded in my head.

A train ran over me last night.

It was raining and I felt very disconnected.

A beautifully laid out and easy-to-read book with 406 photographs and art showing life with an invisible brain injury. And finding a new identity and purpose when everything looked hopeless.

MOT/S Student

"Coolest OT on the planet."


"I couldn't put it down."

Anne McLaughlin

Former Attorney

"As someone who developed cognitive issues after chemo, I was blown away by how well René describes how it feels to wake up one day with a whole new brain. Nothing is where you left it, and you can no longer rely on being able to take shortcuts. Instead of getting mired in Shitville, she offers a road map to leave self-pity behind and to continue with life, enjoying new dreams and old passions. It’s an invigorating and awe-inspiring journey. I highly recommend this unique book”.

Lauren Woods, PhD, OTR/L

Assistant Professor

University of Tennessee Health Science Center

College of Health Professions

"This story is one of hope and resilience derived from unexpected hurdles in life. René uses prose and imagery that takes the reader on her journey from brain injury to living in a van as she travels across the country to find her new identity. René demonstrates the characteristics of resilience I have found over the years as I have dealt with the impact of brain injury both personally and professionally. The fact that she was willing to take on the daunting task of driving across the country alone is an experience many people would be afraid of (without the added visual-perceptual and language challenges Rene faced). I met René at one of her stops on her road trip. She visited the occupational therapy program at which I am a faculty member to speak to students and faculty about her experiences traveling with a brain injury. She also showed us her van turned into a camper. The van alone was a testament to her independence, ingenuity, and drive to accomplish her goal. Her story resonated with me. I too am an occupational therapist and had a mild brain injury when I was in a car wreck at age 18. During my first semesters of college, I experienced feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression, and difficulty attending to tasks. Since then, I have experienced vestibular and vision issues related to perception and motion sickness. In my more than 20 years as an occupational therapist, I have worked with many individuals with brain injury who have similar stories that needed to be told. This led to my dissertation topic related to factors that contribute to or negatively impact resilience of young individuals and their caregivers who did not have visible symptoms after their brain injury. The individuals in my study were very much like René. High achieving and had no visible symptoms of their injury, but all experienced vision and vestibular issues in addition to depression and anxiety related to their brain injury. René’s story is told in a way that allows the reader to gain a first-hand account of experiences many face after brain injury. It serves as an inspiration to those individuals and their caregivers who may not be able to express how their lives have been impacted.


Maria Zamorano, LMT

"What a "Badass" lady this is! Rene had the bravery and determination to undertake a solo trip in her van for thousands of miles as she learned how to cope and adjust to her limitations caused by a freak accident. From one moment to the next her life changed drastically, and she had to confront her new situation and deal with the effects of her brain injury. After a lot of frustration, confusion, anger, fear, and dark moments, she finally choose to LIVE. Rene is making the best of her new life, and she is helping others in the process with the publication of her brutally honest book detailling her every day struggle with her brain injury. She is finding her strengths in the midst of her limitations. I hope Rene continues to inspire and empower thousands of people who will benefit from her experience.

About The Author

René Ready, an occupational therapist, is the author of the memoir

“Living in Shitville - what an invisible brain injury feels like”.


She graduated from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in occupational therapy.

Her clinical background provides a unique perspective

of the struggles of living with an invisible brain injury.


Retired after a brain injury in 2018 during a dentist visit,

she now travels in a converted minivan

exploring and photographing the western USA.


René lives in Washington State with her husband

and four wiener dogs. She grows tomatoes in summer,

plans road trips and learns to drive the school bus.


Join my newsletter and download a free image from the book

bottom of page