About

 

It was a long journey from deciding I wanted to write for a living to seeing my first book published, and it’s not over yet.

I started life in England and was named Shireen only after I was hauled out. My mother was very particular as to which spelling was used for my first name, and I like her choice. I sailed to India at the age of 3 months with my parents, spent my formative years there, and arrived in Toronto on Valentine’s Day 1968. Education is hugely venerated in India, so I started reading very young, younger than 2, and was writing in two languages by age 4. Although I went to Montessori School in India, I’m a proud public school grad here in Toronto; I was surprised to discover that Judy Taylor, the subject of my first book, also graduated from my alma mater.

I always loved reading, and writing essays was my favourite part of high school. But I hated English, and focussed on math and the sciences. I especially enjoyed statistics. Strange I know. I worked summers in a nutrition lab, assisting lab technicians and Ph.D. students for six summers. Every summer started off with me calculating a year’s worth of chromatograms with my handy-dandy TI programmable calculator. Then I got to do the fun stuff, like feeding rats, making up their diets, or even better, working with human subjects. I conversed endlessly with my father, Dr. Khursheed N. Jeejeebhoy, about medicine and clinical research on our morning walk to the University of Toronto, and I saw firsthand the results of his genius when I attended barbecues hosted by Judy at her cottage home.

I graduated an Ontario Scholar and entered the Specialist program in Psychology at the University of Toronto. As part of my psychology degree, I undertook several research projects, one on ADD and one on people with eating disorders or living on Home TPN. I loved developing my questionnaires and interviewing all these interesting people, whether they were in a locked psychiatric ward or in my small interview room in the bowels of Sid Smith. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science.

With my science background, I landed a job at B.C. Decker, first as a proof-reader, then as editor, where my work earned me a mention in the preface of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology (1988). During that phase, I attended several Freelance Editors Association of Canada seminars on editing, as well as on graphic design, and slowly my interest in writing emerged. I finally gathered my courage to follow my true path. Back to university I went to study creative writing under the tutelage of a true teacher; with the encouragement of my peers, I entered the Hart House Short Story Contest in 1988 and received an honourable mention.

At my next job, I brought my writing and my research skills together while working as a Research Officer for the Task Force on Access to Professions and Trades in Ontario. I interviewed immigrants disheartened by their experiences here, established Canadians trying to help these immigrants, and various experts. And I wrote about the immigrants’ experiences with language and competency tests.

Eventually I struck out on my own and ran a successful desktop publishing and computer consulting business for clients ranging from The Home Depot to individuals in professional practice. At the same time, I started establishing my writing credentials with articles for private Internet sites and professional newsletters on health and nutrition issues and cross-cultural counselling. I’ve also written travel articles, with photographs, for the London Free Press (1997) and The Islander in the Victoria Times-Colonist (1998), as well as a two-part feature article on Judy Taylor in The Medical Post (1998). My short story Like Beads of Time was selected for inclusion in WORDSCAPE 3, the Canadian Authors Association anthology (1997).

I started working on Lifeliner in 1991, and by 1999, I had finished the research. Unfortunately, right in the middle of writing my manuscript for Lifeliner 15 days into 2000, I suffered a closed head injury — a brain injury — from two cars crashing into the one I was in, pushing us into the one stopped in front of us. Four cars. Three impacts on me. Over the course of several years, I relearned how to write (still working on my reading), and with the help of some great people, finally finished my manuscript in the fall of 2006. And hallelujah!, self-published my book Lifeliner in 2007!

In the summer of 2008, I settled my personal injury lawsuit against the two drivers who caused my brain injury. It was like being released from prison. I joined Twitter, began sporadically scanning my old film photographs, learnt how to manipulate — or simply touch up — my new digital photos in Corel PaintShop Pro, read the Book of Job in the Bible and created a group Bible Study on it and then an ebook with photos and handouts, and joined the tens of thousands in the annual novel-writing fest NaNoWriMo. I’ve written a novel every year during November and wrote my memoir Concussion Is Brain Injury, now revised with Learnings chapters to help others find treatment as reflected in the sub-title Treating the Neurons and Me — because that’s what the second part of my life has been all about.

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  • Miles Cobbett

    Ha

    I had fun reading your stuff. Wow your degree is Psy. Mine is Psy. too and a second one in Sociolgy… How do ya like those apples?

    Miles…
    Your reading seems to be doing ok now huh?
    I too had head injuries- though perhaps not as serious as yours. Mine occured when I was a kid and riding a bike. I had a couple of pretty severe concussion injuries…. blood came out my ears and all–I was told.

    More later.
    Miles

  • Miles Cobbett

    Ha

    I had fun reading your stuff. Wow your degree is Psy. Mine is Psy. too and a second one in Sociolgy… How do ya like those apples?

    Miles…
    Your reading seems to be doing ok now huh?
    I too had head injuries- though perhaps not as serious as yours. Mine occured when I was a kid and riding a bike. I had a couple of pretty severe concussion injuries…. blood came out my ears and all–I was told.

    More later.
    Miles

  • John Wesley

    Shireen: I have just now contributed to your Script Frenzy project, and enjoyed reading your brief bio. I feel that I have known you for a long time through periodic updates from your mom and dad whenever we encounter each other at medical (ASPEN) meetings. Your father and I have been friends and colleagues for many years–dating back to 1978–and exchanged information and challenges/experiences in the process of our working with our HPN patients over the years. I am delighted that your recovery from your closed head injury has continue, and wish you the best of success with your book and script about Judy Taylor.

    Best regards,

    John Wesley

  • John Wesley

    Shireen: I have just now contributed to your Script Frenzy project, and enjoyed reading your brief bio. I feel that I have known you for a long time through periodic updates from your mom and dad whenever we encounter each other at medical (ASPEN) meetings. Your father and I have been friends and colleagues for many years–dating back to 1978–and exchanged information and challenges/experiences in the process of our working with our HPN patients over the years. I am delighted that your recovery from your closed head injury has continue, and wish you the best of success with your book and script about Judy Taylor.

    Best regards,

    John Wesley

  • Your journey provides hope – I too had a closed head injury in 1986 when I was teeaching radiation therapy herhein the USA. I had the money and did not have to depend on the State of North Dakota’s worker’s compensation system my son would not have SUFFERED as he has for 7 months – He was finally authorized for a brain rehab program (July 2010 to present0 but insomia has made participation in cognative therapy challenging due to exhaustion ( 3 hours in 36 – 6 hours in 72) No physician has ordered PET scan, BIiofeedback or a sleep study, let alone HRV and trial of a CES . Your artcules have provided concise informationand are extremely helpful. The night terrors/psychosis he had for 2-3 months because of remeron and other drug are evidence that the physcians perviously involved in her treatment did not understand that he had He was lying on the floor working on equipment with his head positioned at the floor when a 45 pound beam fell and struck his head and brain stem. He experienced a classic “coup” and “contre-coup” brain injury, also know as ‘shaken baby syndrome’ as a result of this injury which was no fault of his own. I used to teach advance antomy and now work in a rehab hospital with inpatient brain injury program so the lack of proper diagnosis and intervention is very difficukt for me to accept. Your shared information is helping me through this very difficlt time. You and my son have many similar symptoms – but I know no brain injury produces the exact same outcome – Bless you –

  • Wvabratgirl

    Shireen, 
    Wow I am impressed with all you have done. You deserve to be very proud of your accomplishments.I will of course need to go back and read again, as I tire easily with my TBI.In 2006, at age 47, I had a bad fall (coup-countercoup) and was only unconscious a few minutes. While I broke a rib and partially collapsed lung, the TBI is what nags. Even though it was a major food chain and the video showed it to clearly be their fault, I settled for a small amount after 3 years and lost wages due to being a single parent unable to work. Anyway, the worst part is the continued severe fatigue and what I call apathy. It is paralizing and difficult for others to understand. I received poor medical care all the way. Nobody has ever mentioned seeing a endocrinologist, but I did have hormone tests due to menopause (onset at accident). They say adrenolen fatigue. Due to some other things going on now, I am searching info on this following brain injury. People seem to think that if you were not in a coma and didnt die, its not so bad. That is the furthest from the truth. When I say the video, I do not know how I was able to walk away. Less than a year after the accident, I had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic eye drop that I had used without problem before. My head was about twice the size and it went all the way down my legs and I had trouble breathing. Of course I was given a course of prednisone, bedryl and something else. The doc said my immune system was shot.??? All of the things I am discovering that were never correlated to the accident. I am in psychology as well, I have a masters in counseling. Unfortunately, I have not gotten any better. I have to take Adderoll for daytime sleepiness (to wake up). When I have energy, I seek some answers. You are very much of an inspiration, and if I ever regain health, I would like to do something to contribute to the change in this silent epidemic.

  • Wvabratgirl

    Shireen, 
    Wow I am impressed with all you have done. You deserve to be very proud of your accomplishments.I will of course need to go back and read again, as I tire easily with my TBI.In 2006, at age 47, I had a bad fall (coup-countercoup) and was only unconscious a few minutes. While I broke a rib and partially collapsed lung, the TBI is what nags. Even though it was a major food chain and the video showed it to clearly be their fault, I settled for a small amount after 3 years and lost wages due to being a single parent unable to work. Anyway, the worst part is the continued severe fatigue and what I call apathy. It is paralizing and difficult for others to understand. I received poor medical care all the way. Nobody has ever mentioned seeing a endocrinologist, but I did have hormone tests due to menopause (onset at accident). They say adrenolen fatigue. Due to some other things going on now, I am searching info on this following brain injury. People seem to think that if you were not in a coma and didnt die, its not so bad. That is the furthest from the truth. When I say the video, I do not know how I was able to walk away. Less than a year after the accident, I had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic eye drop that I had used without problem before. My head was about twice the size and it went all the way down my legs and I had trouble breathing. Of course I was given a course of prednisone, bedryl and something else. The doc said my immune system was shot.??? All of the things I am discovering that were never correlated to the accident. I am in psychology as well, I have a masters in counseling. Unfortunately, I have not gotten any better. I have to take Adderoll for daytime sleepiness (to wake up). When I have energy, I seek some answers. You are very much of an inspiration, and if I ever regain health, I would like to do something to contribute to the change in this silent epidemic.

  • MGR Rajan

    Dear Shireen,
    I am Ramakrishna Rajan, presently Head of the Radiation Medicine Centre of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. The Radiation Medicine Centre (RMC) was started in 1963 and your father, Dr. Jeejeebhoy was the first head of RMC. He quit the position in 1968 to go to Toronto. My purpose of writing to you is that RMC will be celebrating its 50th year on September 2 this year. Dr. Homai D’costa, his contemporary, now retired has also been contacting him for a photograph of him taken in those days for publishing it in a souvenir that we are bringing out. I had sent him an email but did not receive a reply. An article from him on establishing the RMC will be greatly cherished. I hope you will be able to help. With regards. Rajan

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