Brain Injury Stories

Dan Lita’s Brain Injury Storyboard: Biographic and Autobiographic

This page is named in honor of our dear friend, Dan Lita, who was an active participant in BIC-NW.  Dan inspired us to share our stories in order to encourage others and to simply “know each other better”.  He led by example – and was an encouragement to us all.

*Biographies and autobiographies are being added as they are completed. If you are interested in writing down your story, please contact Karl M. at heykajomo@gmail.com or submit your bio here.

 

Karl M.

What would you like people to know about brain injury?

Just as we are ALL Unique Individuals and so are ALL Brain Injury to each Individual.

There are several cases of TBI pending the individual’s Glasgow Coma Scale being at Mild, Moderate and Severe. I had the severe case being that I was In a Coma for 32 days.

This is NO CURE for Brain Injury just some new Life Change tactics (TBI patches) to function as close to as one that was to as prior life.  Metaphorically ~ Before my Traumatic Live Change = ‘Life was a nice stroll through the park’. Now it’s a crawl and every quarter of the way, I need to check my Phone’s navigation app to ensure not to get lost or running late. There is so much more +!

I have written a Blog post in a TBI Google Plus Community at his link to save space here.  

https://plus.google.com/115893960526187521638/posts/Wg8LjyTN2mD

How has your life changed since you BI?

The LOSSES are greater than the WINS! But still fighting!

What are the positive and negative effects?  

I don’t really care to use the words Positive and Negative so let me just say Learnings. My Learnings are much more about within myself – Who am I now and whom that I will be (hopefully), learnings about the Brain and TBI, about Friends and Family, about my former employer and business word as a person now with a disability. I have learned how hard it is to get and stay employed as a TBI survivor. Learnings about Gov. Support services (Low and Far Between). I learned after working for one employer for the past eight years as a Sr. Tech Designer that employers don’t always know how to accommodate people after a brain injury!

How have your friends and family dealt with your BI?

I feel like my friends and family do not truly understand how hard my Traumatic Life Change has affected me or others (My 3 Son’s). It’s ‘Kind Of’ like they think I just sprained my leg and not a Severe TBI (My Personal Processing Unit-Brain) forever. Hey- you look great!

What support services are the most helpful? Which are missing?

Support Services are very limited!! Being on Disability means that Support Services are low and or difficult to qualify for. I developed a Proto Type sample to promote cycling safety and took it to a Dir. at an agency for Disability for advice on how to get it produced. The Dir. told me to 1st. pursue a Patent before going any further! I then went to my Voc. Rehab representative contact to work on starting a business for this proto. I was told that Voc. Rehab does not offer help in filing for a patent. I then worked with an ILR (Independent Living Resources) for 5 months to file the patent. This is still in works. TBI is called the ‘Invisible Disability’ as one may not appear to be disabled in common life. But I think this should be re-worded as ‘Invisible Disability Support’ as there are very poor support services for TBI individuals!

Do you have any advice or suggestions for other people and their families who are dealing with a BI?

Push yourself and Push the ‘System’ every day from now on! Never Quit!

Seek out a TBI support group, Chats groups, Blogs and Therapy! There are no shortcuts to regaining your former self-back. Accept your new life as a Disabled individual, Today and every day is an opportunity for self-improvements.  Don’t be afraid to ask for support, things will take longer than you might plan on!

Try to do something that you loved to do before Life Change but took it slow. Every day is the opportunity to learn, grow and redeveloped yourself as the New IMPROVED You! Repeat, Repeat!

 

Joan Miller My name is Joan M.  On June 12 th 1999 I was almost killed by a hit and run drunk driver. My husband John and I were attending a business conference in Ogden, Utah when it happened. I was left with numerous injuries however the permanent injury, the one that would change my life was a TBI. My injury was so severe I was given a 3% chance of survival.

After a four-day coma I woke to a world I no longer knew; all the rules had changed. After being flown via medical jet back home to Portland OR, I spent a month of intensive rehab in the Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon (R.I.O.) at Good Samaritan Hospital. It was there I learned to navigate my new world safely and start my ‘new normal.’ I had to learn to walk, talk, eat, bathe, and try to make sense of the world I had just been thrown into. After being discharged from RIO I began two years of physical, cognitive, and visual outpatient rehab. It was, to say the least, grueling however it had to be done. Being blessed with a wonderful Husband who felt his sole purpose was to protect and support me, and surrounding myself with family, friends, and professionals who had only my best interest at heart, I worked on recovery.

My first personal step was to forgive the drunk driver who nearly killed me and seriously injured my husband. I knew the young man did not wake up with the intention of doing what he did that evening. He made a bad choice. By forgiving him, I let myself move forward.

In working with local support groups, I, John, my sister Shawn and a few other survivor friends, realized that brain injury survivors could benefit from working with a peer group, a group made solely of survivors and their families/caregivers who would come together to share their struggles and their successes.

That was the birth of BIRRDsong – Brain injury Information, Referral and Resource Development. Inspiration for the ‘song’ part of the name came from knowing we all keep a special song in our hearts. It’s personal and strong enough to take us to places we thought we might never see. We call on that song for strength, reminding us to keep putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. Even if it’s a baby step to pick up the phone and call someone when something is troubling you and you need an extra ear or maybe a hug.

I firmly believe my brain injury was the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. It’s allowed me to discover my purpose which is all about helping others discover their strengths no matter how ‘banged up’ they are. We’re all put here for a purpose and not just to take up space.

It is so important to surround yourself with others who keep supporting you on your journey. That’s exactly what I did and still do. See doctors and therapists who specialize in brain injury and are willing to listen to you and who you feel comfortable sharing with. Always remember to put the most important thing first, you! You are still a vital part of society and, like everyone else, you deserve to be heard. You are NEVER a brain-injured person, you are person with a brain injury. Don’t let your injury define you; you are not your injury. You are a person who is now living with a brain injury. The emphasis should always be on you!

I’ve been published: July 2015 – TBI Hope & Inspiration online magazine www.TBIHopeandInspiration.com

To Be Inspired – Stories of Courage and Hope after Brain Injury– David & Sarah Grant

My biography – Learning to Make Toast – by Kelly M. Sharp – will be published sometime early this year.

At www.joanwins.com you can read my blog, check my calendar for speaking engagements, and find out the most recent information about publication of my biography.

If you’re struggling through rehab and adapting to your new life, remember there’s a light at the end of your tunnel and it’s me holding a flashlight and my hand is reaching for yours. Just keep moving forward.

You’re Worth It!

Joan M.

joanwins@comcast.net

Had Walmer I am a very different person than I was before acquiring my brain injury on the last day of 1977 in a car accident. At that time, I was a student at OSU studying architecture with plans to build ecologically sustainable buildings. My plans were changed on that day. When I met my wife, Faith 34 years ago, neither of us had any idea how much my TBI affected my life. I did, however, with Faith’s encouragement, finish my degree 5 years later. As I lost job after job and found myself unable to succeed in pursuing my interests, we began to understand the effect my injury had and I began attending brain injury support groups in order to spend time with people who understood my issues.

I have been married to Faith for 31 years and we have raised three wonderful children and so far we have 2 granddaughters. My wife’s passion for life inspires me. Life is an ongoing process of learning and change. I choose different systems and activities than I did before. After much work and struggle, including the loss of many jobs – I am now a thriving survivor of brain injury. I have worked in sales at Costco for the last 3 years and Am very successful at this. The challenges of sales inspire me.

I have been meditating for the past 25 years and I have found it to be extremely beneficial to embrace and find peace and focus in my new life. I also teach meditation to fellow survivors and their families using my Gold Mind Meditation Project, which I began five years ago. I love books and as part of my Buddhist practice I founded the Barking Dog Library at Portland Insight Meditation Center and am training to be a Buddhist teacher. I am interested in neuroscience, nature, climate change, Buddhist meditation, the Chinese Garden and the Japanese Garden. The biggest difficulty I have now is remembering my commitments, both day to day and bigger picture, I aid this with use on My Bionic Brain program on Apple iPad. I am in touch with many interests that I would like to share and also to learn about others and their interests. I care a lot about the people in this community and along with Faith, I’m very active in the BIC-NW social committee.

Erin Maureen Carr

My name is Erin Maureen Carr and I am 36 years old.  I have survived 2 cancers.  I am now a 20 year survivor of a brain tumor and 23 year survivor of thyroid cancer.

The doctors thought when I stopped talking and walking during my brain tumor that I would never talk or walk, again.   But I am doing just that.  I am very blessed to be alive and that neither cancer has come back.

My hobbies are drawing, reading, coloring, knitting, taking pictures, latch hook, sewing, and scrapbooking.   I also like to listen to music.  I am doing a lot of volunteering which I believe that I am giving back to the people that help me.  I volunteer at Robison Jewish Healthcare Center, zoo, and on April 23, help at OMSI from 1:30 to 5:30 pm, every other Saturday.  I volunteer so others can learn more than what they already know.  I love helping out where I can.  I like what kind of feedback that I receive.   One was “oh you are so nice”.  Some people keep me on my toes, a lot.

I can do a lot of the stuff that I did before my tumor.  I like to keep my hands busy a lot.

Life seems crazy sometimes but I have gotten through some of that with help from family and friends.  I am thankful for what I got. I am healthy and happy.  I never thought that I would last so long.  I would like to thank my family and friends.

I have lost family members that I really miss like my mom. She was and always be special to me.

Tony W.

My name is Tony W. I’m 66 years old. My sister is writing down these thoughts as I express them to her mostly by gesture, since I lost the ability to use words to speak or write due to the stroke I had in 2011.

My long-term and professional interests include: education, social studies, climate change, languages, East Asian studies, literacy, and law. I have a blog I was quite active with until my stroke, exploring and sharing these areas and the link between them (http://curricublog.wordpress.com/). I’ve written several books and articles that have also been published on varied topics.

I was at home when I had my stroke and I lay unconscious on the floor for 4 days until my apartment manager came in and called the ambulance. My whole right side was completely paralyzed; hands, feet, arms and legs, mouth and face and eye. I lost all ability to speak or even to find the words to write my thoughts. I even at first could not make a sound; only after several weeks, my first sound was to laugh out loud at one of my brothers.

Ever since, I’ve been slowly gaining back my lost abilities. Now I can walk and use both hands, though still with some problems on the right side, and a crooked smile.

I swim laps and work out in the gym. The hardest thing is how much I still miss the use of words. I never lost the ability to read, but just can’t find the words to say or write.

So many people have helped me work to get back my abilities and health: Speech therapist s, OTs, PTs, nurses, doctors, nurse aides and caregivers, hospital cleaning staff and food workers, family and friends ad especially my dog Xotchi.

I moved to Portland from the University of Delaware just after my stroke, leaving my friends, colleagues and professional community I had worked with there for 20 years, to join a new family and begin my new life here. I live with my sister and her partner, and our four dogs and one kitty.

My personal interests include: reading books, newspapers, and on the internet; swimming, Tai Chi and film. I am also interested I getting involved again in blogging.

Fern W. 

In 2009 my life changed drastically due to two stroke. Recovering from a brain injury was challenging, frustrating, and fearful. I made a commitment to myself that I would not JUST EXIST but LIVE no matter how well I recovered. And that’s what my partner Pat and I set out to do—learning to live with the new me. Challenging? You bet!

I grew up in Portland and enjoyed all kinds of sports (aka: female jock). After college and with the Viet Nam war in full swing, I joined the U.S. Army Special services, “to see the world”. I spent 2 years in Korea stationed by the DMZ and then 2 years+ in Viet Nam. On home leave, I realized that I had spent to many years outside of a rapidly changing USA (what the heck was this thing called “Watergate”?); I decided not to “re-up”. I went to work for Tektronix (until I could find to work in my profession), 25+ years later I retired from Tektronix.

I like to keep busy, so after retirement I learned the “joy of life and the joy of cooking”. In addition, I was actively involved with City of Portland Neighborhood Watch program; our neighborhood association as being our Public Safety chair; during the City of Portland budgeting cycle, I was an active participant on the Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI) budget task committee. My real passion is to ride my motorcycle (trike) plus, cooking for friends, and gardening. After my strokes, and with a strike of luck and hard work, I was able to continue all of the above with the help of friends, colleagues, and other dedicated folks.

What I miss doing after my strokes is working with tools and machines to repair or build “things” (simply a minor complaint in comparison to other alternatives that might have happened….wheelchair bound, etc). After an extensive rehabilitation and some damn good care both physically and spiritually plus a “stroke of luck”, I realized that having a brain injury opened new doors for me. I phased out of the above focus public contribution areas and became more actively involved with the brain injury non-profit organizations in Portland Metro area. The focus of each of the organizations has been to connect those with brain injury to people, resources, and services that best serve their needs. I have met and worked with some truly an amazing groups of professionals and volunteers who are committed to wiping away the stigma and unknowns of brain injury by helping bring a face, information and hope to our brain injury community. I am now affiliated with is Brain Injury Connections-North West (BIC-NW).

One of my biggest opportunities that I had after my strokes I was honored to be invited to meet and work with you amazing people on the Governor’s Task Force-TBI 2013-2016. Our main charter on the Task Force is to find any holes in policy and practices in the State of Oregon Agencies (to include the Veterans) that might prohibit brain injury survivors from receiving support and services from any of the State Agencies. We not only were asked to find the “holes” but to make recommendations as to how to condense or elevate those holes + make recommendation for follow-up tracking.

Jim M.

Prior to December, 2010, I enjoyed a successful professional career as an active trial lawyer, primarily representing physicians in medical malpractice litigation, and municipalities in many forms of civil litigation including employment matters, civil rights, alleged police misconduct and others. It was a rewarding and, in retrospect, an all consuming life adventure.

In December, 2010, although I have no memory whatsoever, I experienced a traumatic brain injury in which I was apparently unconscious for 22-24 hours. Spending six weeks in various hospitals, including RIO at Good Samaritan Hospital, I then spent three months in a foster care home specializing in brain injury patients. Then, thinking I was healed and would be returning to my trial practice, I was confronted with multiple medical opinions that, given my permanent memory impairment, it was not wise to place a client’s interest at risk, and the strong suggestion was that I not return to work. Subsequently, the Social Security Administration determined that I was disabled for purposes of receiving disability benefits. Then, the painfully slow process of attempting to return to normalcy followed.

By this time, early 2013, my children were young adults and moved on to other cities and countries to pursue their dreams. My wife, at the time, had relocated her retail business from Portland to Bend, and the social network which had been created over 30 years was evaporating. In addition, in part as the result of the accident which lead to the traumatic brain injury, I also experienced the need for what has amounted to seven surgeries since April, 2013.

Consequently, the physical limitations exacerbated the memory and concentration impairments such that only with the benefit of encouragement by a counselor, and few remaining friends, was I able to sustain motivation to volunteer at a local hospital, the Alzheimer’s Association, and as a Mentor in the Oregon State Bar Mentor/Mentee program, the latter of which permitted me to share my previous experiences and maintain contacts with several other lawyers, judges, and friends in the legal community.

More recently, I’ve become more active in a support group for brain injury survivors, which has permitted me to address the potential effects and complications of returning to practice. For example, with the potential risk of developing earlier than normal onset of dementia, regardless of cause, I needed to be very aware of the potential effects on clients, but as importantly partners, colleagues and staff.

Nonetheless, despite seemingly contributing and being somewhat helpful to several individuals, I also recognized that apathy was prevalent in perspective of my external world. Stated differently, I perceived that I lost my identity of who I was, the significance my efforts were making for others, and engaging in self pity.

Throughout the past five years post accident, and even more recently, I’ve come to realize the importance, for me, in sustaining hope, which has been described for me as follows:

Hope is born while facing the unknown and discovering that one is not alone.

Hope is not a concept easily defined. At times, in fact, it may not be a conscious thought but rather, in hindsight, can be recognized as having withstood challenge after challenge whether they be physical or emotional, the latter of which encompasses a variety of life’s experiences. For me, it was only recognized after persevering for several years.

Stated differently, perhaps, I’ve been successful in achieving a sense of contentment, which was defined for me, as:

Contentment is an awareness of sufficiency, a sense that we have enough and we are enough. It is appreciating the simple gifts of life – friendship, books, a good laugh, a moment of beauty, a cool drink on a hot day. Being contented, we are free from the pull of greed and longing. We trust that life provides what we need when we need it.

Contentment allows us to experience satisfaction with what is. We are fully present in this moment. Being contented does not obstruct our dreams or thwart our purpose. It is a place to stand and view the future with a peaceful heart and gratitude for all that is and all that is to come.

 

Surely, my life is at least 180 degrees from where it was prior to December, 2010. Personally, professionally, and physically everything is different. But, in recognizing this period of time as one of transition rather than change has allowed me to maintain a sense of balance and realize that there may yet be productive and beneficial opportunities which lie ahead and may afford me an opportunity to be effective in some other manner, the nature and extent of which is not yet evident. Balance in this context means, for me:

And if we do “fall short”? That very awareness of “falling short” implies two related realities: First, we am trying, and second, we need to try again.

There is no failure here, for spirituality involves a continual falling down and getting back up again. *** The great need is for balance – when we are down, we need to get back up; and when we are down, we need to remember that we have been, and certainly will be again, “down.”

Christian R

What do you want people to know about brain injury?

Brain Injuries has been happening since early life. We are just modern human examples at a time that we are able to reflect and greatly support recovery using science, technology and build the rich support networks needed to make the most complete recovery possible.

How has your life changed since your brain injury?

My wife and I have been building upon successes to further improve what is possible. Even in my 6 th year after injury I find ways to continue to improve and several new people I meet have asked, “I don’t recognize your accent. What country as you from”? I make a joke, we laugh and continue to do what we were doing before.

It happens less and less as I continue to heal. Life is constantly changing and we must adapt to maintain the parts we love. I continue to work toward me goals pre-injury as much as I am able (and struggle in ways that only a TBI Survivor can understand).

What are the positive and negative effects of brain injury?

I am glad that we get to write about both the good and the bad effects of our brain injuries. I (along with my loving family and friends) have struggled greatly, just as all survivors and supporters do. I find myself emerging from my injury with a greater appreciation for things I didn’t value enough before the injury was infused into most aspects of my life. I work hard to invest in the people around me who continue to support me through my continued challenges. They are vastly improved from the feeble man on life-support during those early weeks, but I have learned ways to reach my goals despite my persistent challenges. For example, I will probably have diplopia (double-vision; after looking at a fixed object for more than a few seconds) for the rest of my life. I have discovered tricks for myself to pull that double-vision back together by changing my field of view more often. It is certainly annoying, but has given me the ability to return to work as a carpenter, drive, and play in activities that require good vision.

What support services for brain injury are most helpful? Which are missing? 

One aspect that I find most helpful is the great network of Supporters and Survivors that are woven together like a fabric surrounding us. We each have strengths and function to contribute our positive qualities where they are best used in the support of each other. One part that I find missing might be the recognition of a desire for survivors to ‘give back’ to those that supported them so much. We are only doing as well as we are because that assistance that Supporters provide. It is easy to take it for granted, but assisting others through to same journey (friendship, an outsider’s perspective, etc.) can remind us that we are surrounded by caring people that yearn to see us all recover as well.

Do you have any advice or suggestions for other people and their families who are dealing with a brain injury?

I often think of the playful song (enjoyed at my wedding before, as well as now, after my injury) by John Prine and Iris Dement, “In Spite of Ourselves”. It is important not to lose sight of to most important parts of life. We all hold values and TBI will pull those into question. It is essential to find joy in what you do to do your best to offer support to those whom we each choose to surround ourselves by.

Brian L.

Call me Brian L. , or the Bogey Man, since I enjoy golf but have been realizing, more and more, that bogeys (one stroke more (worse) than a par) are often as much a sign of a man-sized effort as pars.

Born in September 1955 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I am oldest of five siblings. In August 1956, I was joined by my sister Linda. Since our Dad worked for IBM and travelled often for training, Mom often had to watch her infant and toddler by herself, including in early May 1957.

It was May 12, 1957 when I first suffered a brain injury, based on a neuro-psychologist’s findings after tests and interviews in Portland in 2009.

A 1957 newspaper article reported I followed older neighbor children and fell into Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin, only a few weeks after ice had finally broken up on the lake. Not considered much of a problem at the time, the event happened well before testing of the completeness I encountered in 2009 was considered, or even invented. The neuropsychological testing in Portland prompted a report that I displayed damage, even if not major, from having been denied oxygen – even for less than five minutes – after I fell in Lake Winnebago.

Looking back, with insight from my neuropsychologist and others, it is not difficult to connect certain challenges or incidents as I grew up to my nearly drowning in 1957. Back then my parents were told it was lucky I was rescued quickly, and that I should be “fine.”

Later, notes teachers made on report cards: “Brian needs to use pencils instead of crayons for assignments” (first or second grade); or “Slow but thorough” (junior high drafting) now seem clues of challenges being created by the 1957 injury, even if the problems were tough to detect. Tools for diagnosing the brain’s zones were not yet available.

I was fortunate to work as a sports and sometimes other news reporter, from 1985 to 2009. Still, my stories were probably made up of both quotes from others and my best “conjecture” from notes, the neuropsychologist explained in 2009. It took most of a full day and part of another for the interviewing and testing in my case. Such testing is a fruitful investment. Increased morale and help gaining disability or supplemental income will make costs of as much as two or three thousand dollars look small.

In my case accidents I had growing up were often called “clumsiness” by my family or friends. Newer articles on brain injury point to brain connection deficits that can lead to incidents similar to some of mine. I fell off a fence and broke my arm at age 9, had my head hit the wall at the end of a junior high backstroke swim race, and was scraped in a motorcycle incident as a teen. Poor balance created by the various events was probably an undiagnosed factor. Balance problems are reported as quite common after brain injury. In the 60’s and 70’s, when most my accidents occurred, studies were barely begun.

I wish there had been more information, but am grateful to share experiences. It is also reliably reported, based on conversations at BIRRDsong meetings and my own experience, that brain injury can create difficulties in memorizing or remembering.

If aware how brain injury creates stumbling blocks in memorization, I would not have taken “fourth-year” Spanish in high school. My difficulty in memorizing led to failure. Luckily I avoided Shakespeare and anatomy. Reading makes it clear those are two of many subjects which brain injured people can expect to need multiple repetitions to come near mastering.

Encouragement I have received from family and friends is my greatest asset. Positive feedback helps individuals with brain injuries make progress or at least have less deterioration as we age. Those are just two examples of the aid of feedback. Other challenges I have struggled with have been minimized through prayer or meditation.

While forgetting at times, I try to give thanks to everyone for their support. Hopefully, everyone encountering the road to recalibration from their own brain injuries experiences the encouragement which having Brain Injury Connections on their side helps provide.

Brandon S.

I would like people to know that BRAIN INJURY is DIFFERENT for EVERYBODY!! It doesn’t matter what you USED to do. After you get a brain injury, your whole WORLD turns upside down!!! I’m not trying to YELL at anyone, but I want the truth to be known!! ALL Brain Injuries are different ALL the time!!! It doesn’t matter if you were in the same vehicle at the same time and you were both hit by the same force, you’ll still have a completely different set of symptoms when you wake up…IF you wake up.

My life has changed in that, as I said before, EVERYTHING is DIFFERENT now. I don’t have the same FRIENDS, I DEFINITELY don’t have the same daily activities to do. I don’t even know if I will be able to do the stuff that EVERYBODY (my Mom and Dad) think I’ll be able to do. It really, REALLY don’t know!!! That’s just another CRAZY thing about Brain Injuries. Is you DON’T know…no matter how much you think you DO know…YOU REALLY DON’T.

Positive…positive…I’m not sure there is such a thing as a POSITIVE EFFECT of a Brain Injury. I’m pretty sure when they sit down at there desk. Brain Injury Dr.’s. I’m thinking that they think about the brain injuries they deal with day in and day out…and I’m not sure how they can hold back the TEARS…the ANGUISH…but, it’s probably because they’ve never HAD A BRAIN INJURY!!

Negatives on the other hand and pretty easy to talk about, for me at least.  1. My Foot. It always get’s cramped up in whatever shoe I’m wearing at the time. It doesn’t matter if they’re open toed shoes, close toed shoes, even NO SHOE’S suck for my foot. It just likes to cramp up on me…Really lame. 2. My right arm. It may not LOOK like it. But my right arm is a little more paralyzed than my left arm. Basically because my right arm was the one injured in the accident. I still have trouble clapping to the beat during band practice sometimes. Just another thing that…REALLY SUCK’S!! 3. My feet and hands are now and have been for the past 8ish years just really COLD for some reason. I don’t really know why. It seems they have me on some medication for it. But so far, it doesn’t really seem to fix the issue. 4. My right side of my face is paralyzed from the accident. It kind of suck’s when somebody asks you to smile for them….and you can only smile close-mouthed. My right eye also gets a little dry every now and then and I need to put a drop or two into it to soften the pain. I am VERY VERY VERY SORRY but when YOU want to know about Brain Injury you better be aware that it’s NOT a PRETTY STORY!!

 My friends have all but left me, leaving me to find NEW friends…I FIND those friend’s anyway I can. The easiest way is to find other Brain Injured people AROUND the same age as you. That’s not always EASY!!! Some time’s you’ve just got to take what you can get!! Right now my best friend is a 43 year old woman!! That’s a 13 year GAP between us!!! My family has been as good as a family can be. They take me out to places with them. Take me out to the movies, take me out to eat, take me to the gym two or three times a week. But you know it’s not like it used to be. I LOVED EVERYONE in my family. My sister Alyssa, my sister Kyla, my Mom Beth, and my Dad Bruce. But, there’s just something about them that seems to have changed over the years that I’ve been injured. I honestly don’t know what it is, but, there’s something…SOMETHING changed about ALL of them, I don’t know, maybe I’m just going crazy. Or, maybe it’s ME that has changed, and there all trying to deal with THAT!!!

As far as places that help you when you are Brain Injured. I would have to say that ILR has been a place that has really shown me a thing or two about how to act around people, how to respond to them. Also my case manager at KMS. Ashley has been a REALLY big help to me. I would say that in the last year I’ve improved more in my remembering things, in my ability to look them up if I can’t remember, just in my ability to interact with other people has gotten A LOT better ever since I started hanging out with Jennifer!!

I would say, as far as the things that are missing, probably some kind of help getting my license back. That has been a REALLY sore spot for me over the years. Not being able to drive is like…it’s like…taking away your right to get a FULL breath of air…it’s like, taking away that one thing you’ve been using your entire life…and then one day, all the most important people say, “Oh, yea…I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that…I know you really have enjoyed BREATHING DEEP breaths, yea…but it looks like…you’re ACTUALLY going to need to STOP doing that…I’m REALLY SORRY!!” … and just like that, you have lost your deep breaths. You’re not sure if you’ll ever get them back. I wish there was something that we could do for you. I really REALLY REALLY DO!!! But, it looks like you’re just out of luck!!!

I would say, keep calm, it’s ok if you cry; it’s ok if you yell at the top of your lungs for THREE HOURS. I would say it’s NATURAL to feel powerless in a situation like the one you’re in. It will get better. It’s not going to get better over night. It might take the next TEN YEARS. But EVENTUALLY…you’ll see that there is hope. Life can be a funny thing that way. I know more than MOST people about that particular thing.