The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) as a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious public health problem in the United States. Each year, traumatic brain injuries contribute to a substantial number of deaths and cases of permanent disability.
Before my Traumatic Brain Injury from an accident in 2001, I was a Prototype Engineering Aide and Electro-mechanical Assembler who worked on some pretty cool projects. I designed and assembled sub-assemblies, full assemblies and, even multi-million dollar automated machines. I loved my job and my co-workers.
I always challenged myself (like a playing a game) to make the products I created and built better, easier to assemble and more cost-effective. I never tired mentally, loved multitasking and bounced around from job to job with ease. I had fun working on projects alone and with a crew of skilled laborers.
I thought I would always have my job because designing and building prototypes was a skill set very few people had and it was always in demand by employers. After my brain injury, my whole world fell apart because I could no longer quickly design products and assemble them without making lots of mistakes.
Physically—I dropped tools and parts out of my left hand because it got weak easily.
Mentally—my working memory had completely malfunctioned and I had a short attention span.
Visually—I saw everything in double vision, kept walking into stationary objects and had problems with visual-spatial tasks.
Emotionally—I was a wreck! I was anxious and felt like crying all the time. Each mistake I made only made my anger worse. Add in lack of sleep and afternoon neuro-fatigue and my life was a living hell!
I hid mistakes that I wasn’t accustomed to making from my co-workers because I didn’t want them to know something was wrong with me. I had to work harder and longer to correct these mistakes and quickly fell behind on all the projects I was working on. There was no way I was going to start asking for help because in my mind asking for help was a sign of weakness.
I had no strategies to deal with any of this and everything in my life began to unravel.
I quickly found out from co-workers that they had noticed I was dropping tools, taking too long to finish projects and making mistakes:
“I thought you were being funny when you dropped your screwdriver, but then you dropped it like 10 times this morning. What’s wrong with you?”
“You don’t have to milk this project! We have plenty of overtime if you want it!”
“Why are you down this end of the shop?”
I replied with tears in my eyes, “I don’t know.”
Fast forward to this Christmas where I’d bought three presents for family members that required assembly. To prevent myself from having to assemble all three presents on Christmas day, I let my family members open one gift per day beginning two days before Christmas. This helped me control my brain fog, fatigue and temper while assembling them. I allowed myself more time to assemble each item, asked for help if I need a hand and gave myself a full nights rest before assembling the next gift.
After assembling all three items I realized:
1. I still have long-term deficits that I have to deal with.
2. Everything takes longer to plan and do.
3. It’s okay to ask for HELP if I need it.
4. Getting angry doesn’t help the situation.
5. The less fatigued I am when starting a project and taking breaks during a project always makes things go much smoother.
6. I’m not the person I used to be and accepting the “new me” helps me move forward in life while living with a Traumatic Brain Injury.
Here are some resources that helped me with my recovery from Traumatic Brain Injury:
Dr. Glen Johnson’s Traumatic Brain Injury Survival Guide
Local Brain Injury Support Groups
Another resource: FaceOfTBI.com
Related, here on GMP:
It’s always ok to “fire” your doctor if they aren’t listening to you.
Amy Zellmer shares the findings of a recent study relating to the differences between how men and women are affected by brain injuries.
What’s your take on what you just read? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view or reaction here at the red box, below, which links to our submissions portal.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
A $50 annual membership gives you an all-access pass. You can be a part of every call, group, class, and community.
A $25 annual membership gives you access to one class, one Social Interest group, and our online communities.
A $12 annual membership gives you access to our Friday calls with the publisher, our online community.
Register New Account
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.