Helping Hands with the Unknowns after Brain Injury

Brain Injury Blog by Ron Hartnett

June 15, 2011

Helping Hands

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.

 “He was pretty down,” Kaitlin said.

 “Oh yeah, really?”

“I just told him that my dad had a serious head injury from a construction accident but now he’s doing all right.”


 “Yeah,” Kaitlin said. “I could tell it made him feel better. He said, ‘Thanks for sharing with me.’”

“Oh, good. It just takes time. Just have to keep plugging away.”

My oldest daughter looked at me.  “He said there are so many unknowns. How much therapy, how his son will do, what limitations he’ll have.”

“Yeah, it’s tough.  It helps when you have people around.”

“Yeah,” Kaitlin said. “They took up a collection. Plus his fellow workers gave him PLDs.”

“PLDs, what are those?”

“That stands for Paid Leave Days. Because if you’re not running the trains, you’re not getting paid.”

“Oh, that’s good.” I couldn’t help but think how just out of the hospital, out of work, not getting any hours in, the ironworkers took up a collection. Then, a few weeks later, there was a benefit softball game. For a young family, this really helped. It didn’t feel like you were so lost in a dark wilderness that is TBI.

“Yeah,” Kaitlin said. “I was just glad I could talk to him. I think it helped.”

“Yep.  It just takes time.”

One response to “Helping Hands with the Unknowns after Brain Injury”

  1. Marilyn Lash says:

    Those who have lived through having a brain injury – whether you are a family member or a survivor – can truly understand the emotional trauma that families just experiencing this are facing. Reaching out – whether it is a kind word or an knowing look – makes an important connection for those just entering the world of brain injury. Thanks Kaitlin for taking the time with this Dad.

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