• Survivor or Caregiver

TBI One Love Survivor Ferdinand Ortiz Jr

Hello, my name is Ferdinand Ortiz Jr. and my family and friends know me as Tito.

On January 10, 1992, I sustained a traumatic brain injury in a car accident that occurred on a blistery snowy night. As a result of my injury, I was in a coma for almost two weeks, hospitalized for almost four months and in rehabilitation for another three to four months.  The approximation of the time is my hypothesis as I have no written memorandum to verify my plight.

I do not have any recollection of my injury or the accident. My head was into other things, pun intended. The same lack of memory holds true of that day and periods prior to the accident. In addition, my memory of the hospital is one of extending my arm to give blood every morning. My attempt to recall anything is like fishing for a guppy in an ocean. I am not sure if any recollection is my own conjecture or a reality. Unfortunately, brain injuries can vary from patient to patient, but in essence, one’s injury is similar where the brain has been damaged; and requires time to recuperate. 

Unfortunately, the damage can have long-lasting affects after being released from the hospital and/or therapy. Consequently, one has to break free from the past in order to flourish and grow in the future. I have used my TBI to learn about myself and to look for ways to build on my own personal development and to excel holistically.

The reality of the severity of my injury, aside from my scar, happened when I was in therapy. In a physical therapy session, I was asked to do a jumping jack and my connection to what was asked was to jump and play jacks; however, I remained still not knowing what to do. I had played sports and have done many jumping jacks but I had forgotten what to do. When the physical therapists performed the jumping jack, I was dumbfounded and did a jumping jack to only fall because of my clumsy coordination due to the cross-functional brain body correlation.

Another recognition, by fault of my memory was during a speech therapy session in which my therapist asked me to name the person who serves you food on an airplane?  This time I felt more confident and answered waitress and she shook her head no; then I said, waiter – no – hostess – no – host – no…finally she said stewardess. My brain had remembered the suffix of tress but stewardess had escaped my hippocampus.  The lack of memory faintly surprised me because, logically, my brain injury certainly had a scar, was swollen and caused headaches; therefore, lack of memory was part its damage.

After my memory escapade, I went home to do jumping jacks, not many because mental and physical fatigue had occurred due to my injury. However, I was on a quest to try to relearn anything I may have forgotten and to learn more information.  Fortunately, my learning was put to its test when I resumed my collegiate studies.

Coincidently, my neurosurgeon learned that I was pursuing my bachelor’s degree in Management Science with a minor in Mathematics and said that he did not see me going back to school.  

I did not remember the direct conversation, by it was remembered one day while studying. In 1996, I am blessed to have accomplished my studies and graduated with my bachelor’s degree. I am also proud to share that in 2016, I self-published my memoir that describes what I feel were the contributing factors to my rehabilitation. The name of my memoir is called Putting the Puzzle Together.

I thank God for my life, my family, and friends.  They have given their unconditional love and support. The best medicine I have ever received was the love they have always given and shown me.

My transformative years have been positive with a few repercussions that I continue to deal with. My most adverse aftermath has been severe mental fatigue where it has interfered with my sleeping patterns and my ability to exercise.  My fatigue, unfortunately, drains my energy to not want to do anything, which gives me a sense of being lazy, which I do not like to feel. However, I take it in strides to continue to forge ahead and to do as much as I can do.

I certainly believe nothing is impossible and I have sincere conviction that one accomplishes anything that they put their heart and mind to.

To my future, here I come and please join me to a better fulfilling future. God bless you all!

TBI One Love, thank you for having this Family!

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