A Tavares doctor’s belief system helped her survive a traumatic brain injury.
Dr. Candace Booth calls herself “a walking miracle.”
Candace is a naturopathic doctor who faced her own long journey to recovery after two falls in 2017 left her with horrific injuries. She leaned on her mind-body-spirit beliefs of healing to return from the brink of death.
“Who was to say that Candace would end up practicing what she preached,” she says.
Candace broke her left femur and hip in a fall at her Tavares home, and doctors initially said the injury was too severe to repair. But a doctor at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville took her case and performed successful surgery.
During Candace’s rehabilitation, however, she fell and hit her head in a shower, suffering a subdural hematoma, or bleeding on the brain. She thankfully didn’t know it at the time, but she later learned she had a 90 percent chance of dying or, if she survived, she would be in a vegetative state.
Neurosurgeon Dr. Steven Roper saved her life at Shands. But a five-month odyssey of the mind followed: the natural healer was dazed on 17 medications and endured seizures, depression, and partial paralysis.
Progress came gradually in rehab. She willed herself to get out of a wheelchair and start using a walker, and later, a cane. Her state of mind improved during encouraging visits from friends and her son, Max Wettstein.
“He said to me, ‘Mom, I’m never going to leave you…but you’ve got to do one thing for me: you’ve got to work really hard to get well,’” Candace says. “He was the one that really believed in me.”
She went home in March 2018 and soon returned to work at Be Free Lake, a substance abuse and violence prevention coalition based in Mount Dora. She counsels combat veterans and others who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Now, ironically, she suffers PTSD and fears of falling.
“It’s a matter of how far you can recover. It’s different for everybody,” Candace says. “It’s something that’s always there and how much does it impact your decisions.”
Physically, her left leg and hip are fully healed, she walks without a cane and rides a bike regularly, and she’s free of seizures and medications.
Candace says the near-death experience changed her dramatically. She believes she’s more compassionate, empathetic, and loving, and lives only in the moment.
While she credits Dr. Roper, Candace believes a higher power was at work: “I know I didn’t do this by myself. Dr. Roper didn’t do it by himself.
“I feel a very strong presence around me all the time,” she adds. “I’m a miracle.”
A recipe for recovery
Dr. Candace Booth says these elements aided her recovery:
- Love and support from family and friends.
- Hope and belief that she would get better.
- Mini-successes that build confidence.
- Avoiding a victim mentality or self-pity.
- Natural supplements, including CBD oil, a hemp derivative; DHA, an omega-3 fish oil; and CoQ10, an antioxidant.
- Exercise, good sleep, and a healthy diet.