Traumatic Brain Injury Injustices
February 6, 2013
Traumatic Brain Injury Injustices
Sitting across from my dad last Sunday at a local eatery, he shared something that caught my ear. “The principal of our elementary school was just fired,” he said as casually as if talking about the weather.
He went on to say that she had a recent skiing accident, hit her head, and was having trouble with her memory. Students names now escaped her. Teachers she had known and work with daily were also among the unremembered. And the town took action; action in the from of termination.
There are so many layers to this short story. If her TBI rendered her incapable of executing her day-to-day functions as a school administrator, what other options did the local officials have? A leave of absence? More medical care? As I was only privy to a small snippet of the story, these well may have been presented to her.
But the take-away is this: yet another life forever changed by traumatic brain injury.
The numbers are staggering. By the time the sun sets today, another 5,000 join this exclusive TBI club. And 5,000 more tomorrow, and the day after…and the day after, ad infinitum.
The challenge for so many of us is that we lose our voice, our clarity at the time we need it most. It’s hard to self-advocate when you are in early recovery from a traumatic brain injury.
In my case, I was on my trusty bike when I was struck by a teenage motorist. Some of you know that already. What you may not know is this: the insurance company that represented the driver denied all claims. When they concluded their investigation, they deemed me to be 51% at fault. When I asked the representative if the investigator was a neutral party, I was told that the accident investigator was on the insurance companies payroll.
Have a great day, Mr. Grant. Thank you for contacting our insurance agency.
I was dumbfounded. Thousands of dollars of medical debt, and the loss of earnings that will impact me for the rest of my life.
Have a great day?
A couple of respected local attorneys were contacted. As my accident was of the “right of way” variety, I was told they are difficult cases to win.
Have a great day, Mr. Grant.
Was I bitter? Yeah, bitter is an understatement.
But time passed as it inevitably does, said the narrator voice inside my head, sounding a bit too much like the voice of a Winnie the Pooh narrator.
Over time, perspectives change.
When Sarah and I were left essentially on our own, the realization came quickly: sink or swim.
So I started swimming…. merely treading water at first, with waves of life and heath challenges crashing over my head.
BUT I KEPT SWIMMING.
Over time, the swimming became a bit easier. Not easy, mind you, but easier. The waves that crashed over my head were a bit smaller.
It was well into year two that I paid off the last of my medical debt. That alone is a blessing. It felt like I had paid off a mortgage.
I will continue to swim. If you are a survivor, you well know that none of this is easy. Yes, there are bright spots, but there is a dark side as well. A side where nothing short of oblivion looks like an option.
There is so much injustice served to those who can’t speak for themselves, whose brain fog and new life limitations mean no clarity of thought or action. And my thinner emotional filter means just thinking about it moves me to tears. So many of my new friends have been railroaded by insurance companies and more.
No easy answers, no quick cure, just a snapshot from inside the mind of a TBI survivor.
What about you? Was “the system” fair to you? This question alone might ignite a firestorm.
But to speak of our pain, our hardships, our injustices lets others know they are not alone.
We find strength in each other and carry each other. I will carry you as so many of you have carried me.
Life is like that.
About the Author
David A. Grant is a writer based in New Hampshire and the author of Metamorphosis, Surviving Brain Injury. A survivor of a harrowing cycling accident in 2010, David openly shares his experience, strength and hope as a brain injury survivor.
For more information please visit www.metamorphosisbook.com/