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Year end reflections on traumatic brain injury

December 29, 2014

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I recently passed the 8th year mark since the head injury that changed everything in my world. My case is primarily a story of recovery far surpassing the expectations of any of my treating physicians.  Eventually, very slowly, I returned from a state of being a “madman” to a well-organized thinker and leader. I went from not being able to tie my shoes or find my way home in my own neighborhood to finally passing the CPA exam for a second time six and a half years later.

I’ve learned more about how the brain works than most people ever care to consider. For years I did not believe that this level of recovery was possible based on what I heard from my doctors and cognitive therapist. While I find myself financially and socially ravaged by the 7 years of disability during recovery, I now expect to rebuild a productive career and, God willing, work until a late retirement age past age 70. Relationships remain more of a challenge and I can only work at recovery a bit each day. I’ve gone from viewing TBI from Claudia Osborne’s perspective (“MTBI is a condition where, on some days, you get nothing accomplished and you have to learn to be OK with that.”) to viewing it is as primarily an increased sensitivity to environmental stress. My wife was wonderfully supportive in those years when I can only be described as “a mess”. My children have been forgiving. I am grateful to every person who gave me the time and space to heal and is giving me a new chance to build a relationship now.

I’ve learned, sadly, that few effective supports exist in our society for those similarly affected who do not find the ability to help themselves. Head injury impact remains a national crisis far beyond what almost anyone recognizes. But the point of my post here today is that I am reminded that recovery is never 100%, that I remain susceptible to stress (as with the holiday season) and that there is a delicate “tipping point” at which sanity and organized life can come tumbling down.  I’ve learned that some type of biological recovery of neuro-system tissues are possible in every brain but human functionality in modern society is far more complex. I feel deeply empathetic for each person who is working through their own life adjustment and recovery from traumatic brain injury.

Best wishes for the new year!

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