Living with a Traumatic Brain Injury
Published August 13th, 2015 by Geoffrey Rose
This is about my motorcycle crash and the affects and changes it has had on my life. I am writing this to share my experience with this and to maybe better help others understand what it is like to live with a TBI.
On September 24, 2014 I was in a serious motorcycle crash that left me un-conscience and not breathing. I was in the ICU for three or four days. In all I was in the hospital for 7 days and then moved to a rehab center for the next ten days. While in rehab I had serval therapy sessions each day, usually totaling about 4 hours a day. The types of therapy I had where: Speech, Occupational, Physical, and Recreational. Following being released from the rehab center I had weekly speech and occupational therapy sessions for the next 10 weeks or so. Speech therapy for me was primary to help me with concatenation and memory.
I have no memory of the crash or from the next 10 days or so. From what the police report said, no one knows what happened and they said it was really random. I was taking the exit off the freeway on my way home from work and some how ended up going into the guard rail in the turn on the exit. My bike’s front wheel was stuck underneath the guard rail and this is when I flew off and hit the road (my best guess from what the police report said anyways).
The First Three Months
The first three months where pretty rough. I couldn’t drive for the first month and a half after going home, which was hard for me to lose the independence that comes with driving. I was able to return to work after a week and a half. I was able to return to work fast as I did only because I have a “desk job” (front-end developer) and it is not a physical demanding job in any way.
During this time I worked about 30 hours a week. It was all my brain could handle before being exhausted. I would need a nap 5-7 day a week due to pure exhaustion. My body was pretty sore during this time. My back bothered me the most and this made it difficult to get a good night sleep.
The Next Six Months
The next six months where better but still hard. The work day still takes a lot out of me. During this time I slowly worked more hours and during this period I was able to work 40 hour weeks for the most part. Also towards the end of this period I have been taking less naps, only 3 or 4 days a week now and my back felt a lot better most of the time. Slow improvements but it is improvement.
Effects of TBI
Brain injuries affect everyone differently. For me it as effected the following:
Thinking of the Right Word/Explaining my Thoughts
I have noticed quite a bit lately it has been harder for me to come up with the right word to express what I want too. It takes me longer to gather my thoughts to explain myself and this is frustrating. I have also noticed (and told so) I repeat myself quite a bit. I think this is because I am working out how to put what I am trying to say and sometimes get caught up on trying to best put it, getting stuck in that thought unable to move on. Sometimes I am unsure if the person I am taking to understands what I am saying and this lead to me repeating myself too.
I know my memory isn’t as good as it was before the crash. Right after I was able to go home from the rehab facility memory was a lot worse but has slowly gotten better. I think that lately I remember the big picture but sometimes have a hard time remembering the details. For example at work we will be working on a project and during the next day or two I will say/ask something that we had talked earlier. They will mention this this and sometimes by them mentioning that we did or if they start explains to me again I will remember. I just need a hook for my brain to be like “right I remember this” but other times nothing comes back. I think that more times then not I remember things I just need something to help me access that memory. Some sort of hook to help find that memory.
At the end of the day mental fatigue can set in and it will make me more short with people, arguing more and have a harder time thinking. These are hard things for me to handle well but I am trying to do my best. Some days I do better at this then others.
Even before the crash I struggled with being short with people, arguing with people (for really no reason) and not always caring much about peoples feelings. I could control it decently before but now I have had a really hard time controlling the arguing and just not caring. It not that I don’t care but in the heat of the moment I just don’t.
It not that I don’t feel bad for basically being a jerk after cooling down. It just don’t really see the point in apologize because I believe that you should only say your sorry/apologize for something you won’t do again. And I know this will happen again, so I just don’t for better or worse.
Most of my hope with this is it will give you a better understanding of what it is like for people with a brain injury. I know before my crash I didn’t really have any idea what it was like. My hope is that if you meet someone and you find out they have had a brain injury in the past, this will help you be more understanding and know they are doing the best they can.
I have done a lot of reading about other brain injury and how others adjust to it. From what I have read, it is going to change everyone in some way. Don’t except someone to be the same as before, they are not going to be. You have to accept the person for who they are now, not who they used to be.
One last thing, remember that long after the visual physical damage has healed the brain injury is still there and will always be. It will have an effect to some degree for the rest of their life.
Read my 2 Year Update
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