20 year anniversary of my brain day.

Posted by Ric J @ricj, Oct 16, 2023

Oct. 18, 2023 will be the 20th year anniversary of my traumatic brain injury. Not saying that recovery has been a piece of cake, in fact the first year was everything except a piece cake. What I'm saying, is that recovery is an ongoing process.

On Oct. 18, 2003, when cleaning the gutters on my house, I fell off the ladder and spent the first month at HCMC, in a medically induced coma after a craniotomy surgery to reduce swelling in my brain. Second and third month were in two different hospitals to see how much therapy I may need. I don't remember anything about the first month, almost nothing about month two, I can kinda remember a little about month 3, but it's foggy.

On my 4th month (January 2004) I was discharged for the hospital and sent back home and started out-patient occupational & speech therapy at Courage Kenny. On my birthday in February 2004, I went back to HCMC and the doctors placed my bone back on my skull. In May 2004, I passed the driver assessment test and, without needing a volunteer driver, I began to try to restart my pre-injury job. Because of daily therapy sessions, I was only able to work 4 hours a week. I was able to reschedule therapy to afternoons sessions, 3 days instead of 5 days a week, and was able to add more hours at work if I felt ok after a good night sleep. 4 hours became 12 hrs, then 16 hrs, 20, 28 then 32 hours. Thankfully, the library I worked at, gave me all the time I needed. On October 1, 2004, I was able to stop therapy and started working full-time. Because of aphasia, and short-term memory, it wasn't exactly my pre-injury job, but close enough.

7 years later (2010) thinking there must be a reason I felt better than what the doctors told me, and my family, that "recovery is just a 1-2 year recovery process, what you get is all you get". I proved them wrong. I was still gaining. I found that the Mn. Brain Injury Alliance has a speaker bureau and became a member. Discovered that Courage Kenny had a brain injury support group. Went to a meeting, and thought why didn't I know about this group before, especially during my first year. Not only did I become a member, I am now a facilitator for the group as well.

Am I at 100% of the "old" me? Nope, I think I'm at 90-95%, and I can live like that: I still have short-term memory issues; aphasia comes & goes, especially when talking too fast or talking with multiple people at the same time; PTSD, depending on tasks being done (don't ask me to get on a ladder). All three of those "side effect" are the gifts that keeps on giving,

As long as I refuse to let my injury define me, as long as I keep moving forward, I will keep on recovering. People/sounds/lights could be a problem; going to grocery or department stores, sporting or musical events is always a gamble; when going into a restaurant, I look for and then ask, to sit at a table where I think I would be comfortable. This document has taken me 3 days to finish, because it takes a lot time to write, proofread, edit, proofread, rewrite, revise, and repeat. Moving foward means not letting myself be boxed in.

Regardless of how your injury happened, and find yourself, like I did, into a future you never planned or believed would happen, "we" need to stand up to face the world. Let time be a friend, measure your recovery as gains won not losses. Perhaps most importantly, refuse to let your injury define yourself. Let only yourself define who you are.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Support Group.

Congratulations! My moderate TBI was 30 years ago. Most of the recovery was in the first 1.5 years, but overall it took 8-10 years to get to +90%. I have a bit of left temporal lobe aphasia, but I was able to write my PhD dissertation the first year (can't remember profs names tho). Emotionally I'm good (basal frontal lobe) but getting used to emotions close to the surface was an improvement over my Mr. Spock geekdom. One learns a lot about how the brain works (and not). Recovery takes a lot of work and never stops, but that is also true of life experiences without the trauma.


I can relate. I’m sorry about your injury.
I’m 8 years in and still have many post concussion issues: tinnitus, eyes are tracking or working well, low energy, noise issues, over stimuli issues, balance and stamina issues. But…I am better than I was.
However, I’m going to Chicago (first flight in 8 years) to see Dr. Deborah Zelinsky in November. She owns the Mind Eye clinic. I’ve heard great things about her process.
My Best to You.

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