Callie Kimball sits at her desk in her Cape Elizabeth apartment on Friday, Dec. 6. Liz Gotthelf / For The Forecaster

CAPE ELIZABETH — In 2018, playwright Callie Kimball was at the top of her game. She was working on her first big commissioned commercial project for a Broadway producer and had recently started a consulting business. And then a freak accident in April 2018 changed everything.

In a recent interview in her Cape Elizabeth apartment, Kimball recounted how she was visiting a friend who had a handyman working on the roof of their house.

“I heard this clatter and a yell,” she said, and a pair of heavy-duty shears fell two stories and struck her on the head.

The morning after the accident she was eating breakfast with her boyfriend: “I said to him, ‘This is really good? What is this?’” He gave her a surprised look and said, “It’s eggs.”

Her inability to remember what eggs tasted like was the first of many frustrating and confusing moments brought on by a traumatic brain injury from the accident.

Kimball experienced other symptoms in the months after the accident, including nausea, a few seizure incidents and pain and limited motion in her neck and jaw.

There was the week she bought brown sugar three times without knowing why. There were times she would do things like put a jug of milk away in the bathroom instead of the kitchen. Reading and comprehending an email took a long time, never mind responding to it.

“Everything was weirdly hard,” Kimball said.

In October of 2018, Kimball went to a neurologist. Testing showed her memory was severely impaired.

She was unable to finish the play she had been commissioned to write, unable to pursue her consulting business and unable to take a job teaching a theater class.

Kimball had to find jobs she could do after her injury. She worked retail for six months and tended bar for six months, keeping by her side a file of hand-written drink recipes, as her short-term memory made it difficult to remember them.

“The bar actually thought it was a good idea, so they made copies of them for everybody,” she said. “But I was doing it because I had to do it because there’s no way I could remember anything.”

Last spring, Kimball was put on medication to help her focus, and this summer she was able to write a play to commemorate women getting the right to vote, which she hopes will be performed locally.

“It turned out well, and it was a miracle. I was able to think up the plot, the characters, the whole thing,” she said.

Kimball is applying for jobs, and though her memory has improved, she still has what she calls “brain hiccups.”

“There’s an old version of me that’s quick and can remember all sorts of things, and can hold all sorts of things in my head. It’s mostly back, but it’s not all back,” she said.

She’s still in physical therapy for her neck and jaw.

“This week was the first time I’ve been able to open my jaw all the way,” Kimball said. And she now has more movement in her neck.

The loss of income paired with the mounting medical bills has put a financial strain on Kimball.

She has sold many of her belongings, including furniture and most of her jewelry, save for a ring she received as a gift from her mother, to get by.

She has set up an online fundraising page at to help pay her medical bills and get out of debt.

Kimball doesn’t know what the future holds, but she remains optimistic. She wants to someday use her teaching and writing skills, perhaps by developing workshops to help others who have had brain injuries as well as their loved ones.

Life after a brain injury is difficult to navigate, and Kimball said after the accident she felt a lost sense of identity. She said she felt the people who really understood what she was going through were other people who had had a similar injury.

“My whole life I’ve been pretty driven and ambitious and able to work 14-hour days on projects and never miss a deadline. I took great pride in my work ethic, but with this, I couldn’t push,” she said.

It was also difficult for others to understand what she was going through, Kimball said.

“I looked like this, I looked fine. I could smile and nod, but I couldn’t really understand,” Kimball said. “I was really lost and deeply sad. It was very isolating.”

Comments are not available on this story.