• Survivor or Caregiver

TBI One Love Survivor Elliot Frei

Hello, my name is Elliot.

November marks the  anniversary of the event that forever changed my life in 2010. It all started on a winters night at my parent’s house in my childhood. It was a school night where my sister and I were just getting tucked in for bed, I was 9 years old. My parents, in the living room were watching the 9 o'clock news as usual when they heard me call out to them.

The world went dark for me at that point. All I remember was that my head was in a massive amount of pain before loosing consciousness. My parents tried waking me and with no success they rushed me to Primary Children's Hospital of Salt Lake City, UT. The hospital staff quickly got me into the emergency room for an emergency brain operation.

After my surgery I was put in a medically induced coma. The doctors let my parents know that I sustained an AVM (arteriovenous malformation), which in short, is much like a stroke. 10 days later, I had another AVM and was operated on yet again. Even though the odds were stacked against me, I made it through the second surgery. The doctors said that I am very lucky to be alive and that if my parents didn't get me to the hospital when they did, I very well could not have made it.

Recovery was anything but easy. In fact, I remember it being extremely frustrating. It was like I hit the re-start button on life and had to teach myself how to do everything all over again. The days laying in the hospital bed I "played Pictionary" on a white-board in the recovery room with my parents. I lost my speech due to the AVM so that was the only way I could communicate with them. Physically, I could barely stand and required help to get up and down to use the bathroom or on and off the wheelchair.

To the doctors and staff that were apart of the entire process say, I am a walking miracle. Today, those hospital days are in the review mirror. I regained my ability to speak with persistence and the help of speech therapists. I learned how to walk on my own with determination and the help of physical and occupational therapists. Today, although I do nearly everything with one hand, I am alive and that is worth every frustrating moment on the road of recovery.

I played sports throughout the rest of my elementary school days and played on the school’s basketball team in middle school. I graduated high school, graduated 2-year college with an associates and am now working my tail off to attain a bachelor’s degree at the University of Utah.

My road has been a rough one and will continue to be one with me getting older and with aging muscles. I am so thankful for the hardworking staff and doctors at Primary Children's; I owe them my life. I got nothing but gratitude to be here right now. I hope to share my story to the families in need and hope to eventually write a book with my experiences.

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