Brian L.

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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.