My catalog of injuries (that I remember)

Below are the head injuries I’ve realized I’ve had over the years — I’ve “narrowed” the list to ones that I recall affecting me – i.e., after the event, I was immediately dazed and confused and/or I noticed significant changes in my processing, moods, behavior.

Childhood Injuries

Fell down the stairs @ age 7

  • I fell down the stairs of our house — about 10 stairs, not very steep
  • I remember standing at the top of the stairs, then I was at the bottom of the stairs, and I couldn’t figure out how I’d gotten there
  • I got up and went to stand in the middle of the dining room near the bottom of the stairs
  • My mother heard the racket and came in to see how I was, but I wouldn’t let her near me.
  • All I could say was, “It was me.”
  • I remember being very dazed and “out of it” for a while, then I collected myself

Hit on the Head with Rock @ age 7 or 8 (1972/73)

  • I was struck on the head with a rock thrown by some kids from a nearby neighborhood
  • struck on the right side, near the top, behind the hairline
  • I remember being knocked out/coming to with my sister hovering over me crying
  • We went home, and Mom and Dad saw to me
  • they checked to see if I had a concussion – they got help from a friend who was a nurse who told them what to do — get a flashlight and check my pupils
  • they had me lie down and made sure I did not fall asleep
  • I laid on my left side, so I believe the bump was on my right
  • I think I was restless and didn’t want to lie down… but I also wanted to sleep
  • I remember them looking me over to find the bump
  • I tried to hide my injury from them
  • I was very confused and upset with myself for causing them concern
  • I didn’t get any medical attention
  • My memory immediately after that is sketchy — very “Swiss cheese-y”
  • I think that I may have gotten glasses after that
  • I was looking up at the moon and it looked like it was double
  • I told Mom and Dad and they got very nervous and agitated

After that, I became increasingly aggressive towards the kids I walked to school with, teasing and taunting them. I remember wondering why I was suddenly being so mean to them, and wanting to stop myself, but I couldn’t. I became increasingly withdrawn, I had increasing trouble in school (thinking and interacting with other kids), I got kicked out of my gifted students class for being disruptive, and my 4th grade teacher called me “Crazy ____-zee”.

I was always very physically active, when I was a kid, and I had a lot of falls and bumps while playing

  • It was not an uncommon thing for me to bump my head while we were out and about
  • in the woods playing, hiking, climbing
  • skating, falling on the ice
  • playing ball and getting hit or knocked down
  • I never thought anything of it — I just got back up and kept playing

Other childhood falls/injuries that I can remember:

Age 8 -11? Not exactly sure when this was. Fell off a running horse at camp, not sure if I hit my head.

  • I was riding a horse and it broke into a gallop and tried to throw me off
  • I hung onto it, but eventually slipped off
  • When the counselors asked me what happened, I had trouble remembering what had occurred and I got confused and disoriented when I tried to tell them what had happened. I couldn’t remember exactly.

High School
Freshman/Sophomore (?) Year (1979-80?)

  • Fell from a tree I was climbing
  • I “blanked out” and “forgot to hang on”
  • I fell about 10-15 feet, landed on my back across a log
  • The fall dazed me and knocked the breath out of me – I was dazed for several minutes after the fall
  • I stumbled home and laid down
  • I was very addled and turned around

Senior Year (1982-83)
Football — got tackled and was a little slow getting up

  • was dazed and confused and out of it for a while, but got up and kept playing
  • the guy who tackled me saw that I was out of it, and he cut the game short after a little while and he saw I was definitely impaired (moving more slowly and out of it)

Soccer — fell down and took a little while getting up

  • was dazed at first, but made light of it

Lacrosse — very physical games

  • lots of contact, bumping, falling, rough-and-tumble

Adulthood

Car Accidents

I was in several car accidents (1988-89)

1.Hit from the (driver’s) side by a speeding sedan, 1988

  • Police came, I think no tow was necessary (? can’t remember exactly)
  • I was disoriented and “off balance” for days after that
  • Police report faulted me, but it was not my fault, and I couldn’t collect my thoughts to file a complaint or amend the report
  • disoriented and intimidated
  • One of my bosses offered to go with me to the police, but I couldn’t collect myself enough to do it
  • I was unable to follow instructions and couldn’t understand what my bosses were saying to me
  • it just sounded like gobbldy-gook – I couldn’t make out the words, and I thought it was something wrong with me, or their accent
  • I had been able to understand them before — I recall standing in the office, just looking at my boss, trying to figure out what he was saying to me, wondering why it didn’t make any sense to me
  • I just told myself it was his accent, but I knew something else was going on, I just didn’t understand what

After that I left that job a day or two later

  • I just didn’t show up one day
  • didn’t bother calling the agency
  • I quit working completely and started drinking (a lot) during the day

2. Rear-ended in slow traffic, 1989(?)

  • On the way to the train station, got rear-ended in suburban traffic
  • No damage to the car, didn’t file a report or call the police
  • Just took off — in a hurry to get to the train station
  • Had difficulty getting there, got confused and turned around and had to keep looking for the train station, but I pushed through and got there
  • Neck was sore for days after that — very strong feeling of whiplash
  • Never saw a doctor about it… everything was a whirlwind around me

After that I cannot remember any immediate, obvious changes, but work was a challenge for me, and I wasn’t dealing well with it.

3. Rear-ended in heavy holiday traffic at Thanksgiving time (1995)

  • Hit from behind
  • No police called, traded info with other driver
  • Understanding and filling out the rental agency report form was very difficult for me, and it took me a while, but I got it done
  • I missed some of the “dings” on the car – completely missed it, even after looking the car over with a fine-tooth comb

After that I cannot remember any immediate, obvious changes after that, but it became increasingly difficult for me to deal with my stressful job, to draw boundaries, to keep on top of my duties. I dropped a lot of the projects I’d started, had issues with communicating with attorneys, and could no longer advocate for myself with my boss(es). My main boss reprimanded me for not being as articulate as usual. He clearly noticed a difference, but nobody connected it with the accident.

Various Falls
Fell off horse – early/mid 1980’s?

  • We were camping and went horseback riding
  • I was on an unruly horse that I couldn’t control. I had trouble keeping my balance.
  • The horse threw me off – and went back to the camp without me
  • I’m not sure if I hit my head

Fall Down Stairs @ age 39 – Day (or 2) after Thanksgiving, 2004

  • I fell down the stairs at my parents’ house and smashed the back of my head on 3-4 of the top stairs. No open wound.
  • I was standing at the top of the stairs at my parents’ house (very steep staircase, about 20 stairs or so), packing bags and carrying them to the car to head home
  • I was going to walk down the stairs, and someone called to me from the bedroom
  • I stopped to listen to what they were saying, and I lost my balance at the top of the stairs – I was in stocking feet, and my feet just went out from under me.
  • I landed on my back and hit the back of my head
  • I hit my head hard on the top 3-4 stairs, as I went down
  • My head just bounced off the top stairs
  • I lifted my head up and tried to stop myself by putting my hands and feet along the walls — couldn’t stop my slide
  • I ended up sliding down the whole flight and stopped at the bottom
  • When I got to the bottom, I was dazed and drew a blank
  • I was “out” briefly — maybe a few seconds
  • I didn’t immediately know where I was or what had happened to me
  • Didn’t know why I was at the bottom of the stairs
  • I wasn’t sure if I could move
  • Someone called to me, and I heard them from a distance
  • I answered, and I got up and went into the dining room before anyone could come to check on me — I just didn’t want to worry them
  • I got up and went into the dining room to check myself out
  • My back was hurt, and I was dazed
  • I didn’t really think anything of hitting my head
  • I was more worried about my back being torn up – it really hurt
  • Someone came downstairs to check me out, and asked if I’d hit my head
  • I said “No” – I’m not sure if I even realized it at that time, I was really dazed — but I do remember that I didn’t want to worry them, and I didn’t want to have to concern myself with that, because I didn’t trust the nearby hospitals. I was also concerned that the hospital would take actions that I couldn’t defend myself against, because I couldn’t communicate effectively.
  • My back had a big brush burn on it, and we focused on getting that taken care of

After that I started having more trouble at work, relationships fraying and straining, not being able to keep up with my work, constantly feeling like I was falling behind, saying inappropriate things (insubordinate statements) in meetings, and becoming openly hostile and verbally aggressive towards others I worked with. I went from being one of the top go-to people in my line of work, to persona non grata and being told I had to leave the group by July of 2005 (8 months after the fall). I converted from a full-time employee to a contract technical writer at about 60% of my former pay.

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10 thoughts on “My catalog of injuries (that I remember)

  1. wow.

    On the one hand it is such a joy to hear your thoughts on the experience you are having in life because you describe my life and it somehow feels less lonely and painful, and on the other hand, I have this overwhelming feeling that if I could only meet you and hold you I would.

    While rummaging around in google in search of any kind of new insight I could come up with to help me further cope and adapt to my mTBI, I came across your stories and intelligently gathered and presented information — you have done a great public service and I sure wish you could get recognized monetarily……from your home computer, with a lap quilt on your knees, with soft music in the background or the sound of water, and the smell of something good cooking in the kitchen — all within the less threatening inner sanctum of your personal nest…..the combination of your stellar writing ability and your subject matter expertise is your boat.

    I am a 62 yo single female with a mTBI history not unlike yours…multiple, nrecognized, intertwined with other neuro/medical issues, and superimposed on top of a brilliant mind and survivor personality. I have often thought my do-it-yerself approach to medical issues which I have had to adopt due to lack of medical care coverage, stupid medical care, and bad medical care, has been my cross to bear and that normal folks would have folded up long ago. I am not convinced that would not have been a better response but an undying sense of personal responsibility keeps me here. I too am the victim of misunderstood neglect and harm by well-meaning parents and doctors and letting go of the victim’s anger and blame has turned into an ongoing lifelong task for me.

    One interesting difference in us is that throughout my early through middle adult career life, I spent 18 years working in employment services with a focus on working with folks with disabilities. I want to stress that your employability is high for the single fact of your incredible writing ability and although I am not certain, I am betting your verbal communication ability could be a ticket to ride as well.

    I am wondering if you have sufficiently explored all the options? How about training? Are you free to relocate? What about contacting the research and education organizations at the national level which might hire you to train doctors? write patient information materials, textbooks? You might be able to set up an earn-cash-at-home program for yourself if you started with the most simple thing as an adequate and appropriate resume to use in a self-marketing plan.

    I have 15 years as an Independent Job Search Consultant and focused resume writer and so naturally I am geared toward equipping oneself with these basic tools first. If you want to, I will offer assistance on honing your resume and helping you figure out ways to use it as a self-marketing tool. It is not easy for me to do this work any more, but I am very good at it and have coping skills I did not formerly have (when I closed down my office-based life and opted for completely new work because I could not longer do it). I do know that much can be gleaned from a knowledgeable Other….ideas and slants that we cannot see ourselves.

    About 4 years ago, I had to give up my business and entire professional orientation built over a lifetime to that point, and implement a complete life makeover plan. I really had hit rock bottom and even experienced that infamous in-between lifestyle called living-in-yer-car for a while. But gradually, I was able to move forward and in a completely new way, and to do that while managing better, my medicals, and while changing my entire way of thinking about my Self and the world.

    I still believe I have a unique ability to think in an accurate way, about employment issues for a particular person with misunderstood and unseen disabilities. I am also in a slight break from my regular work requirements and would be able to open a new page that could be of assistance to you if you think you are interested. You could reach me at: arielgailmaclean@yahoo.com / 360-936-5766 / arielgailmaclean@yahoo.com

    My Best,
    Ariel Gail MacLean
    P.O. Box 541
    La Center, WA 98629

  2. Ariel –

    I’m quite overwhelmed by your support… I almost kept this comment private and didn’t post it, it moved me so much. I’m just one person writing against a tide of ignorance and fear… and I often don’t feel as though I’m really having an impact. Then someone like you sends a comment like this, and it makes it all worthwhile.

    I have a really hard time dealing with public situations — I have trouble with on-the-spot comprehension, and I have a lot of trouble with outbursts when I’m stressed. I am still working on this, and until I figure something out about how to deal with it, I don’t feel 100% comfortable walking out in public or working with people in a formal way.

    For now, I’ll be writing in this blog, and hopefully figuring out how to hook up some sort of donation functionality, so people can support this work, if they feel so called. I think at this point, social interaction is beyond my level of comfort, so I’ll use my handy laptop and wireless connection to contribute what I can to people who are dealing with things like this.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you… for the support you offer. And best of luck with your own endeavors.

    BB

  3. wow!
    Talk about hard knocks…I have a younger brother who suffered from cerebral malaria at age 10. He hasn’t been the same since. He’s 20 years old now and speaks in broken sentences, is clumsy, has trouble concentrating, or remembering and can’t score high enough on college entrance exams.
    Deep down, i know it’s because of his illness. His social life is on par and he’s relatively smart but my dad thinks he’s just lazy and intent on being a nuisance.
    Knowing that it is a medical condition gives me such hope. Can he be cured? Or made better? How can I help?

  4. Hi concernedsister —

    Have you checked out the Give Back Orlando site? http://www.givebackorlando.com/resources.html has a lot of great resources to help you understand and respond to brain injury. I think you’d really get a lot out of what they provide. It’s pretty straightforward and very well-explained. It might also help your dad understand your brother’s situation, too.

    I don’t know your brother, but it could very well be that his difficulties are due to his illness. The think I like about Give Back is that they focus on pro-active solutions and education, as well as strategies to avoid problematic situations, so they don’t cause (as many) problems.

    Check them out — I think you will benefit from what they have to say.

    Be well
    BB

  5. Hit on the Head with Rock @ age 7 or 8 (1972/73)

    My memory immediately after that is sketchy — very “Swiss cheese-y”
    I think that I may have gotten glasses after that
    I was looking up at the moon and it looked like it was double

    BB – Thank you for sharing the above. Appreciate it. My memory (attention span/working memory) was so short at one time I could not process numbers beyond three digits or words beyond three syllables. I remember as a young child responding positively a tiny bit to soft drinks (regular Pepsi-Cola, Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper – all contain caffeine). Later I discovered that NoDoz, for me, worked well and then Tirend, even better. The right caffeine medicine, for me, temporarily plugs in aspects of my short term memory/working memory as well as increases the clarity of my vision. NoDoz (St. Louis, MO type only) increases my ability to clearly see print by two lines on a Snellen Eye Chart. Tirend improves my peripheral vision in my left eye. Both NoDoz and Tirend improve my ability to read with comprehension. Tirend improves my ability to process motion (as in perceiving the movement of a baseball) as well as allows me to see color 3D images in my brain/mind’s eye (normal visualization). Tirend improves my ability to play the piano with both hands accurately and to feel/sense the rhythm. Tirend also improves my auditory processing so I can understand about four percent more spoken or sung words. Why? Both NoDoz and Tirend increase neurotransmitters in my brain (reticular formation of my brain stem/other areas) enough where I perceive a large, positive difference (increased alertness, increased wakefulness, increased consciousness). I am very sensitive to your comments about imperfect memory and imperfect vision because, for me, NoDoz and Tirend both correct small aspects of memory and vision for me. Thank you again for sharing your story. – Charles Thomas Wild – http://tbisurvivorsnetwork.ning.com/forum/topics/sustained-attention-vs-inattention

  6. BB – Are you familiar with the concept of auditory processing? If not, try:

    Auditory Processing Disorders: An Overview. ERIC Digest.

    http://www.ericdigests.org/2003-5/auditory.htm

    I was only able to appreciate my auditory processing challenge when I discovered that Tirend, for me, allowed me to comprehend about four percent more spoken or sung words. My auditory processing today (2013) is still so severe that I have never owned a cell phone. My visual processing is noticeably better; that’s why I am using a keyboard to communicate.

    – Charles Thomas Wild

  7. I am not familiar with the ERIC info – thank you for sending that along. I can certain relate to the troubles with cell phones and preferring to type. Same with me. Ironically, a lot of my current job involves talking to people on the phone – it is incredibly stressful for me, and when I’m done with some calls, I feel like my head is about to explode. Fortunately, others cannot tell, so it only has an adverse affect on me (so far as I can tell, anyway).

    Something about being able to type out what I want to say… it’s very helpful.

  8. Thanks for sharing. Yes, caffeine is like the nectar of the gods. It solves so many sticky problems — and it’s perfectly legal and freely available, to boot.

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