Within three seconds, I lost my ability to function as a normal adult. This included voluntarily turning in my drivers license (at age 18 not a cool thing). My parents went from planning their lives after children to having to raise their child a second time, and to top that off, we have to go to court because the company that hired the truck that pulled out in front of me was going to come after us. An amazing three seconds! Now we (my parents and I) must contend with an area of injury none of us had any idea what we were doing, plus a now looming court case.
That’s where we are in the story. After my evaluation it was determined that immediate therapy was needed, and not just a little. Therapy would now consume 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. The therapy type was speech and occupational. Here’s the catch….in my mind I didn’t need the therapy. I was fine and ready to continue on to college. This was my experience. Others that experience TBI notice there is something different right away. Probably my feeling “normal” was youthful stubbornness! This can make it difficult on the person injured, as well as, the family. That being said my feelings were confusion, abandonment, isolation, and obviously feeling I did not need any of this!
My parents on the other hand were dealing with their own issues besides taking care of me. This is where I will allow my father to fill in some of the details. The following is his perspective.
The day had finally come; we were taking Robert home from the hospital. He had already beaten the odds. We were told he would not live, then if he did, he would be a vegetable or so restricted that he would not be able to function normally. But he had progressed and was coming home. We naively thought that since he was released from the hospital, he must be healed. How wrong we were.
Robert was alive and could walk and talk but we were at the beginning of the healing process, not the end. There were still numerous deficiencies.
Sometimes Robert would use words that made no sense. He could not follow simple instructions if it involved more than one command; for example, go to the shed and get the wrench. He would get to the shed and then have no clue what to do or why he was there.
Evan his personality changed. Before the accident he had never been interested in basketball, now he would watch it for hours on end. Before the accident, he would always “dress to impress”, not in a flashy way but a class way. I remember he would wear his three-piece suit just to go shopping at Wal-Mart. Now he never wanted to dress up, not even for church.
Another change was a lack of motivation. He would say that he wanted to get up and do something, even something he liked, but was usable to get out of the chair. Many times he would sleep all day and was frequently tired.
The thing I missed most were our in depth talks about God, the world and other topics of mutual interest. Now he was completely unable to think and communicate on that level. He would become agitated if the conversation did not go his way. There were numerous things we disagreed on and part of our fun was defending our views to each other. Unfortunately all that was gone. If he sensed a disagreement, he would get defensive and shut down. Life and our relationship would never be the same.
One particular difficulty was his mini-seizures. It took my wife and I a little time to figure this out, especially me. We had always been strict about obeying immediately and responding when spoken to. Several times I had told him to do something, he would be perfectly still, and just stare. I confess the first couple times; I was angry with him and let him know it. Once we understood what was happening we went from upset to concerned.
From this brief discussion you can understand why I called the company that employed the driver that hit our son. In spite of what office Netherland had told us the night of the accident, there were three witnesses that established the truck driver was at fault. The driver was even charged with failure to yield causing bodily injury. (More on that story later.)
I will never forget that call. I had no intention of suing anyone. My only concern was our son and his well being. From the police report I obtained the number and dialed. Finally I was connected to the right person at the company. I stated that our intent was to handle this as quickly and fairly as possible. All we expected was for them to take care of Robert’s medical bills. We would not even go after them for the car, we could always get another car. (Talk about being naive!) The response was: “we don’t believe our driver was at fault and we don’t believe your son was that injured. We are coming after you for the damage to our truck!” I was dumbfounded. Things had gone from bad to worse in an instant.