Traumatic Brain Injury Injustices by David Grant

David Grant experienced brain injury injustices after his bicycling accident.

Brain Injury Blog 

Traumatic Brain Injury Injustices

by David A. Grant

What do I mean by brain injury injustices? Here’s my story.

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 worked 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 company’s 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 debts. 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. A survivor of a harrowing cycling accident in 2010, David openly shares his experience, strength and hope as a brain injury survivor.

You can find his book Metamorphosis, Surviving Brain Injury at www.metamorphosisbook.com/

February 6, 2013

4 responses to “Traumatic Brain Injury Injustices by David Grant”

  1. Toni P says:

    Yesterday I was on Capitol Hill for Brain Injury Awareness Day. There was a packed room, many didn’t have seats for the Congressional Briefing “Concussions – It’s only a concussion”. As the panel shared all of the newest research and programs one piece was glaringly missing. How do those of us who aren’t wealthy and have caps on insurance pay for care? Time ran out before that could be answered – I think because they don’t have an answer. I have had 3 TBIs from auto accidents, none my fault yet am driving the same almost 17 year old car that was in all three because lawyers spend more money to keep the insurance company from compensating me than what was even asked for in compensation by my lawyer for me. How can a person actually tell the police and insurance company they didn’t see me when they changed lanes and plowed into my car get off like the good guy and I’m the bad guy because I’ve had a previous TBI so my neurologist’s very detailed notes are discredited. Like you David I was very bitter. Most times now I’m ok but on days like yesterday or when I have to rent a car to go out of town to a Brain Injury Conference because mine is unreliable and the “settlement” I got was so small it wouldn’t make a dent in replacing my car that bitterness returns. That’s why I find sharing our stories to be so important.

  2. Melanie Devoid says:

    I am a former educator who had to give up her teaching career in 2013 after suffering a TBI in a car accident in 2012. I couldn’t do my job and no amount of accommodations would make me the teacher I once was. I not only had the memory issues, brain fatigue, word recall but I had forgotten how to do Math, had difficulty comprehending what I read, misread words all the time, speech issues, and a few other issues. I was very sad when I had to give up my 40 year career in education. And yes, I was very angry that my life was forever changed because a driver of another car wasn’t paying attention and slammed into me from behind at 55 mph at a tollbooth.
    The doctors and paramedics were the ones that let me down. Wrong information given to doctors and no treatment by the ER doctors. I broke no bones therefore I was fine.
    I had to go to Arizona to get the treatment and help that I need. The medical profession is lacking in the trauma field.
    The insurance company….now that is another story. I have a lawyer who is fighting the good fight on my behalf. I will be returning to NH in two weeks to give my deposition. That will be interesting because on any given day, I may or may not remember things. But my lawyer is good and on top of things thankfully.
    That is my new normal….every day is different and new. I am over being angry….can’t let the accident rob me of my joy and my “new” life. I can’t work so I have to live on disability. My insurance covers most of my recovery and I pay for some out of pocket like the visual piece. Hoping to be able drive as my vision gets better…..that also is unpredictable from day to day. I am looking for a new purpose in my life and at this age I’m not sure what it will be.
    I have read your book but like most things….I can’t remember what it is about. I know I have read it because I put a date on my “reading chart” next to the books I have read. Just wish I could remember.
    Writing has been a blessing for me. I’m doing a timeline of my life with input from family, friends and former students. The hope is that it will help my memory.
    I wish you more calm waters so you can enjoy the swim. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Janet Keith says:

    This story plays over and over again when there is an unrecognized need by the insurance company and employers to provide adequate rehabilitation and recovery time for someone who sustains a brain injury. Mild or severe in medical nature, they are all significant in the injured person’s return to their prior life roles and responsibilities. Insight into cognitive rehabilitation strategies to learn and master, prior to experiencing failure of previous responsibilities, could have informed the person with the TBI and her employer about strengths and weaknesses for return to prior responsibilities. With all the education on concussion management in the school systems, hopefully the district will re-examine their policies for employees who sustain this type of injury. Parents and district employees should speak out, all voices are important!

  4. Very powerful story, and sadly, a common one. People wrongly assume insurance will take care of everything, yet it rarely covers everything associated with TBI. We found that out the hard way too. A friend of mine has launched a brand new insurance product called Balance for Cyclists…it covers cyclists who sustain a TBI in a bicycle crash: http://www.balanceins.com I know this insurance will help many families in the future.Thank you, David, for sharing this.

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