Surviving A Brain Injury

National Brain Injury Awareness Month
National Brain Injury Awareness Month (Photo credit: Army Medicine)

So, March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month (I just found this out yesterday).  Let’s add that to the seemingly endless list of “celebratory months of awareness.”  This one hits me at a personal level, however, because in 1996 I suffered a brain injury as a result of an overdose and almost died.

Now some people would say, “big freaking deal, you od’d!”  Well, the thing about it is that I did not want to wake up from an intentional overdose that I told no one about.  There was no letter, no teary-eyed phone calls.

I was twenty-three years old, frightened and disgusted.  I did not want to wake up.

But I did wake up.  I woke up and have been a different person since then.  I am not sure exactly what day I woke up as I have no recollection of any events immediately preceding my overdose, my hospital stay or my journey home.  I only know what my family tells me and then the snippets of flashbacks that float into my head from time to time.

My family told me it happened on July 19, 1996.  My 6-year-old daughter Sarah found my dead body.  911 was called and EMT’s worked on me for thirty minutes before they felt a pulse.  I was rushed to Frankford Hospital in Philadelphia and apparently was in a coma.  I don’t remember. Sometimes I think I remember, but then I realize that I remember what people have told me over the years, and in some warped sense those stories become twisted false memories.

I have a brain injury.  So at times I have issues with differentiating fact from fiction.  I have issues remembering things period.

When I overdosed (and died) I was not getting oxygen to my brain.  This affected the part of my brain that holds my short-term memory.  My long-term memory is intact, but my short-term memory is forever scarred.  If I can get information from my short-term to my long-term, I have it forever.

But that is the trick.  Getting from the short to the long.

I can’t remember:

  • people’s names.
  • directions.
  • what I read.
  • what people said.
  • grocery lists.
  • how I got where I am.
  • how to get home.
  • and tons of other crap that I forgot.

Now, this is par for the course for a lot of people.  But not for me.  It was never for me.  And now it is and some days I am fine and other days mortified because I feel like an ass.

I once wandered around the parking lot of the Willow Grove Mall for an hour because I could not find my car.

I once wandered around the floor of the Pep Boys Headquarters for almost an hour because I couldn’t find my cubicle.

I once drove around aimlessly for two hours because I got lost, stopped to ask for directions, and got lost again.

The list goes on and on, like I said.  But of course I forget all that stuff and I don’t remember anything unless it’s in my long-term memory or by association.

These days, I am a little better.  The doctors told me to do brain strengthening exercises like puzzles, reading, writing and stuff.  I write a lot and the other stuff I do, well, when I remember.

Do you know anyone that survived a brain injury?

Comments

  1. Inspiring to say the least. thank you … Lisa

  2. Amazing story! You are SO inspirational, and courageous, to be so open and frank about your ‘darker past’, but it’s yet another miracle, how you’ve seemed to have taken a 180 in your behaviour, and keep ‘pushin’ on’! Thank you for being an inspiration for me, and countless others who stumble upon this jewel of a blog.
    You seem to have a much more confident use of language, (than myself) and were able to explain the ‘gist’ of everything you went through so easily, succinctly. Thank you for sharing your story to help inspire other people (myself, for one).
    As for your ‘memory’ issues, my mentality is: if you can’t remember it, create the ‘best’, most amazing story of what you did. You can’t remember it, so who’s to say you ‘didn’t’ do it, right?
    As well, depending on how long/short your memory is, read or watch a movie (with another person who can be your “notebook” to recommend/not), and if you’re able to recall enough of it to remember how you felt afterwards, you’ve just created the cheapest ‘unending’ library or movie collection!
    And I ‘think’ I’ve been told about this month being BI awareness before, but this is the ‘first’ I remember being told such, so repost/steal/link away!

    Have an AWESOMEZ day! And, if you don’t, don’t worry; you won’t remember it soon, so you ‘will’ HAVE. A. TRUMENDOUSLY. STUPENDOUSLY. IMPOSSIBLY FANTASTIC. DAY!😀

    • Ha ha…. you’re so awesome!!! Thank you for all your kindness… I hope to help at least one person by sharing my experience, strength and hope… Glad you came by..🙂

  3. I consider you a very courageous woman to be willing to expose your frailties with the public as you do. God bless you.

    • Gay, thank you so much for your kindness and your blessing… that means a lot.. This stuff is scary sometimes… me letting it all hang out.. but I am only as sick as my secrets.

Trackbacks

  1. click the next post…

    Surviving A Brain Injury – Darlene Steelman…

What's on your mind?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: