While living in Washington, D.C. and working for a leading computer manufacturer, Paul Bosworth received a TBI after he choked on chicken-fried rice. Alone in his kitchen, he passed out, hitting his head on the floor. When he came to, he still had food lodged in his throat, so he went into the bathroom in an attempt to remove it. The removal caused tears in his throat, and then he called his girlfriend to take him to the ER.
At first, the doctors were most concerned about the tears and bleeding. He was sent home but was told he had suffered a concussion. He went back to work, but as the days went on, it became apparent that he had suffered more brain damage than originally thought. He was having a hard time speaking and would stutter frequently, and he was plagued with debilitating headaches. He had a difficult time reading and comprehending things. He eventually went to a neurologist that ironically he met at a happy hour, who told him he had post-concussion syndrome (PCS).
After a conversation with fellow brain injury survivor, Anne Forrest, Paul decided to join the Brain Injury Advisory Council in 2009. He stated, “Finally, I could use my skills learned at IBM to lend a hand post-mTBI.”
In 2008, Paul began to realize he wasn’t going to be able to continue working and went on long-term disability. He moved back home to south Louisiana to be near friends and family. Friends from his corporate life had been slowly and gradually leaving him—as they simply didn’t understand that now he was living with the effects of this known silent epidemic.
Back home, he began a support group called AMAZE. “AMAZE provides a space for caregivers and survivors to take a breath, and know that they are not alone. Guest speakers visit our group’s monthly meetings to share therapies or activities that add life every time. AMAZE is a place where a member will be understood, and not judged,” said Paul. Thanks to doctor referrals, AMAZE has grown over the past seven years.
After a few years, he knew he needed to do something more to raise awareness, as well as occupy his time. He put together the first BBQ4TBI event, in conjunction with a Jeep ride, and it was wildly successful. After doing it two years, the city of Breaux Bridge became involved, and it evolved into a bigger and more exciting event. Organizing the BBQ gave Paul a sense of belonging, and it became his “work” as he is still on long-term disability. It also challenges his brain and allows him to relearn skills that he had lost.
While Paul has taken a break from the BBQ in order to pursue other advocacy efforts, I have to say that he has done something spectacular for brain injury awareness, and I want to extend a heartfelt “thank you” to Paul for all of his efforts. I know what kind of energy it takes to put on an event and run a support group, and I also know it takes a toll on a brain injury.
When asked how the BIAA has changed his life, Paul said, “BIAA provides me a unique platform so that I am able to connect and learn more about what is being done to positively influence brain injury on several different levels. I am also able to get a sense of what’s coming down the pipe to help survivors and caregivers. Each March, I take a stand by showing up in my state lawmakers’ office to effectively highlight brain injury from a first-person perspective while I am in Washington, DC attending Brain Injury Awareness Day.
“BIAA enables me to gain access to the people with the latest information and statistics, help those who are presenting research findings in public forums (MSKTC) as well as what Americans, both civilian and military alike, are doing to move the ball forward at the Brain Injury Awareness Day Fair. After all, we are together in this fight for better brain health.”
This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post and is republished here with the author’s permission.
Photo credit: The Huffington Post