My brain injury was acquired in April of 2001. I hydroplaned in a thunderstorm while driving home in Little Rock, Arkansas. The car spun around and crashed sideways into a bridge support. The result was a coma complicated by broken bones and a punctured lung, also sustained in the accident. I was in Intensive Care for six weeks, during which I also suffered pneumonia and adult respiratory distress syndrome. The injury itself is specifically referred to as “Diffuse Axonal Shearing”.
Initially, I had to relearn how to do everything from walking and talking to eating and daily personal maintenance. I experienced extreme disorientation and cognitive difficulty, along with loss of memory and coordination. Some of the most significant effects were emotional; ranging from loss of control to depression. I had nerve damage over significant areas of my body.
I had enormous support from friends and family in rehab and patching my life back together. It is important to remember that it takes time and that significant changes do not occur overnight. I found it important to keep in sight that I always wanted to keep getting better, to keep growing and learning, and was not going to “give up” or consider that I’d “done enough” at any point along the way. Brain injuries take a long time to heal. Although it can be motivating to remember our lives before whatever caused our brain injuries (pre-TBI), it is important to keep in mind that we have changed, and it can be frustrating if we don’t recognize how significant those changes can be.
Our brains are the central core that allows who we are as people to interface with our world, our friends and our culture. Most of us depend on that interface being the same every day and we don’t even realize it. We take our brains and our cognitive abilities for granted. As brain injury survivors, that interface changes radically and suddenly, and we have to figure out new ways to express ourselves effectively. That can be enormously difficult, and frustrating if people don’t realize the effort we have to go through.