…the Status Quo. This letter was mailed/emailed today to President Obama and over 125 groups and associations to give voice to The Fight of My Life; Living with Traumatic Brain Injury.
May we, no matter how we have been changed by Traumatic Brain Injury, (veterans, abuse, stroke, accidents, falls, etc.), ban together and make a change for the greatest good and ROCK THE QUO!
“Most people with TBI lose their homes,” I heard time after time since becoming disabled, but no one can tell me why it has to be that way.
June 2002, heading to a volunteer orientation with my dog, Rudy, we were rear-ended on the freeway. Though I suffered bodily injuries, because my spine was twisted, the whiplash would devastate my life.
Bewildered and in incredible pain, I would lose my job, relationships, friendships, social life in a split second wreck I did not cause. I knew I was different; but didn’t know how. I asked chiropractors to refer me to a Neurologist, after the third, my request was finally granted. I had a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). I underwent extensive testing, grueling rehabilitation until Personal Injury Protection insurance ended. In 2003, I was rear-ended again. Back to the Neurologist, I was devastated to learn Brain Injuries are cumulative. I had fought hard to regain my old life to be brought back to this place.
I could joke there must be a magnet in the back of my car, and I sure didn’t get smarter getting hit the second time. Truth was I would never be the same again; a reality that shook me to the core and took until recently to fully accept. Experiential learning over years slowly taught me I could not undo a disability no matter how hard I worked! Expressing this frustration at support group, the Occupational Therapist simply said, “That’s because you still have a Brain Injury.”
The old me was Type-A, social, loved work, church, the gym, volunteering, involvement with friends. The new me is sensitive to, challenged and drained by activities that energized before. I live as a shut-in, lights dimmed, sounds restricted to the humming computer, refrigerator, heater, and traffic. Once humorous and outgoing is replaced by exhausting concentration and focus on survival
Now it is I who face losing my home to this disability, the very thing I fought all these years. I cannot work full-time, savings are dwindling. My Dad served in WWII, we were raised to work hard and then harder! Hard work and perseverance always pay off, don’t they? I repeatedly hit the plateau of not improving, hopes of returning to work full-time died with some of my identity.
Do all people with TBI have to lose their homes? Do I have to lose everything, lose my animal family, the only stability and comfort known during these heart storms because of something I did not cause?
Can you help? Can we find a way through together? Maybe we can auction something I own or have written, start a fund raiser? Perhaps an organization will be created to keep this from happening to others. I am not the first to experience this devastation…the story of any one of us is really the story of all of us.
This is embarrassing and scary putting myself out there, but what choice do I have? This or lose everything? I have seen how this story ends for too many with TBI. I do not wish to be rich or famous, just have a good life and get back to helping others.
There must be a reason I am in this place, sharing my story, and the story of many others who have gone before me and those who will follow in my footsteps. Having a home of one’s own is a simple, basic human need unchanged by disability. Thank you kindly for listening.
Blessings, Love & Peace,