Category: TBI Survivor's Stories Written by Survivor
Summary - the cause - the injury - today's quality of life?
I was T-boned by a drunk driver in 1989. The force of the impact caused my head to hit the driver's side door window, smashing it out. At the time, I was diagnosed with a "mild concussion", told to take Advil as needed for the headache pain, and sent along my merry way. Since the accident,
I have been unable to hold a job longer than a few months and suffer from horrible fatigue, headaches, deficits in memory and concentration, have a low frustration tolerance and severe sleep problems. Until about a year ago, nobody I'd been seeing for medical care made the connection between these problems and that head injury so long ago. Cognitive function testing proved I do have issues with sustained concentration and verbal memory, and an EEG showed marked slowing of activity in the left temporal region - exactly the area where I'd struck my head in the accident. Still, despite all the documentation and poor job history, I am told I am "not impaired enough" to be approved for SSI/SSDI or most other assistance programs. I've been left to "wing it" on my own. This past March, I fell on the ice while getting out of my truck and struck the back of my head on the running board. Again, I was diagnosed with a concussion but given no follow-up treatment or anything else. Following this second concussion, I also experienced some bleeding into my sinuses. It remains to be seen what additional issues this second injury might have left me with.
Please share your experience at the time you became aware of the injury?
Completely frustrating! Even my doctors wouldn't believe there was anything really wrong, I was told to just "get over it" and that I was essentially choosing to live like this. Now that I finally have concrete evidence (that I had to fight to convince the doctors to test for), I still can't qualify for help, yet I cannot manage to be independent WITHOUT help.
Tell about the experience immediately after the injury. Surgery? Coma?
Nothing. I was seen in the ER immediately following the injury both times, and was never even x-rayed, much less anything else. I was just told to watch for vomiting, confusion, etc., and to return if those symptoms developed.
Tell us about the hospital stay after the survivor was no longer in a coma
Tell us about the time in rehabilitation?
I never received any rehab.
Tell us about coming home!
It's been an on-going struggle to survive.
"Please type some single words that describe how TBI has touched your life. For example: Frightened, confused, sad, etc. Enter as many or as few words as you like. Separate each word with a comma"
isolated, ignored, unable to manage, unemployable, desperate, ridiculed, rejected, exhausted, frustrated, depressed,
Tell us about life today?
It's been over 20 years since the first injury. I'm just now finally getting both my doctors and family to realize that there IS a problem and I'm NOT making things up, being lazy, etc. I still live every day in fear of what necessity will be taken away tomorrow, or what utility will be disconnected, and wonder how I'm going to manage. I'm more hopeful now, though, that eventually someone will finally step in and help me learn to survive in this new reality so I can keep a job, pay my bills, and not have to live in "crisis mode" any longer.
What do you want to tell others going through the same process? Treatments, understandings and actions that made a difference?
Just don't give up. Keep pushing, change doctors, keep fighting and do whatever you need to do to get people around you to realize that chastising you for your TBI, ignoring its existence, or pretending you have the choice to "snap out of it" will NOT solve the problem. If asking doesn't work, DEMAND help. Don't let someone else convince you that you're imagining things.