On June 29, 2005, I sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) while working as a stagehand and setting up for a Santana concert. My whole life changed in one quick second as my feet left the stage, my head hit the cement floor below, and my whole body went into seizures. Then everything stopped. Many of my friends and co-workers thought I was dead. But I survived! I am still surviving.
ALL TBI SURVIVORS AND CARE GIVERS NEED TO KNOW that improvement is possible, even years later. It always amazes me the amount of healing that can take place in the...Read more »
One thing that has confused me since my TBI is empathy. I want everyone to have it and forgive me when I'm rude, forgetful, and overwhelmed. More than anything, I...Read more »
Being disabled is not fun! A car collision for me in 2000 resulted in a coma, fractured C1-C4 vertebrae, a Traumatic Brain Injury, and one and a half years...Read more »
Writing for families gets little support or recognition in clinical and academic circles. It’s time to rethink biases and disincentives that leave families uninformed and searching for information about brain...Read more »
The autobiography of Brain Injury Survivor and five time cross country charity bicyclist Mike Heikes. Mike formed "helmets For Kids", giving away thousands of free helmets. It tells how Mike...Read more »
As I write this, the calendar says July 5, 2013, but my mind is pulled back to July 5, 1998. That’s because my husband Alan suffered the massive heart attack...Read more »
This week I had the pleasure of being a guest of Kim Justus, host of the Recovery Now show, on Brain Injury Radio. Kim is a brain injury survivor and...Read more »
My wheelbarrow tire suddenly goes flat. With the spring thaw, dirt and debris to be loaded on and carted around, not good timing. What to do? What turns out is a...Read more »
Since my accident, I’ve taken up an interest in nuclear physics. That alone is a bit of an oddity. Most of your Kids don’t realize that all the matter that...Read more »
Four years ago, I survived two Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries, one from a car accident in which I was broadsided while idling at a stoplight. My driver’s side and curtain...Read more »
Featured Brain Injury Articles
People often tell me they would like to write a book or an article about their personal story. The problem is they don’t know where to begin. Writing a book is a tremendous undertaking and putting together an article is challenging too. However, keep your eye on the prize because there is power in your story… power to heal you and to inspire others. Below are some suggestions to help you get started:
When our son, Jeffrey, was born severely brain injured it absolutely rattled our world. We had no indication anything was wrong during the pregnancy. Everything was as it should be. (Utimately, it was a doctor’s error during delivery that was to blame…) Perhaps the greatest challenge to us following Jeffrey’s birth was to learn to stay positive. In the beginning, I remember how often I cried. I sobbed when I saw other kids cooing in strollers. I cried when I saw a parent be too rough with his child in the supermarket. I even cried when I took a bath at night. I just couldn’t imagine how something so dreadful had happened to our little boy. The doctors were never optimistic. We found doctors’ appointments to be extrememly hard to prepare for. We knew the prognosis for our little guy would be far from positive.
It happened on a spring night in May – driving home from church with my younger brother and after dropping off my girlfriend after a Wendys’ dinner. It was about 5-10 minutes before I had to be home while someone (the writer of this email) forgot to use the restroom before he quickly rushed out of his girlfriend’s house to hurry, get home, and not be late…
One of the difficulties in life is to know our limits. Following a brain injury, it is extremely important to know your limits so that you can manage stress, anger outbursts, and emotional and physical fatigue. Yes, it is important to build up stamina and to work hard in recovery, but pacing yourself to increase your abilities will actually work in your favour
Summer is ripe with parties, cook-outs, baseball games, and time in the great outdoors. For a person who has a brain injury, these social events can present a few challenges as well as fun. For the caregiver, summer traditions can be a chance to give the survivor a hand, while practicing letting him/her be more independent.
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day offer children (young and old) a time to express appreciation for the unwavering support and love given by their parents. Over the years, I have met fathers and mothers who are supporting a child with a brain injury. Some of the children are under the age of nineteen, while others are adults. The devotion, love, and sense of commitment demonstrated by these caregivers is enormous – in fact, on many occasions, it astounded me.
So how can we help those that have survived a TBI reach that next level on the Hierarchy of Needs? How can we help them identify a sense of purpose that will serve as their prompt to press on and not get stuck in a developmental stage? If you are a friend or a family member of a loved one that is a TBI survivor then you can play a major role in helping your loved one reach the level. After one acquires a TBI, their likes and dislikes often change significantly. Before he or she may have loved scuba diving, but now detests getting into the water. The key is to identify in the TBI survivor something that they truly enjoy and feel passionate about now in their current state. Initially, they may need the assistance of another to draw it out of them or to help them see it. However, once it is identified, the hard part is over. Any identified interest can be used as a positive outlet, as a source of meaning and is worth looking into. If, for example, your loved one acquired a love for animals after their TBI, it may be beneficial for them to get connected with a support group of animal lovers or volunteer at an animal shelter and so on.
Ambiguous loss is also called “mobile mourning” and “chronic sorrow.” It can affect both the survivor and family member in deep and ongoing ways. Family caregivers may recognize it as that strange feeling that the person who survived the brain injury just is not the same person he/she was before. It’s confusing because you may be grateful that the person lived, but grieve for the person he was before. Ambiguous loss matters because it can make it hard for you to find hope or move on in this “new normal” life.
Talking to daughter Kaitlin recently—she writes a newsletter for Burlington Northern and Union Pacific railroads — she told me about a conversation she had with one of the conductors. She said he was worried, his 15-year-old son had been involved in a car crash, sustaining a traumatic brain injury. The teen was just coming out of intensive care, getting ready rehab.