• Survivor or Caregiver

TBI One Love Survivor TJ Johnson

Hello my name is Tj Johnson. Life was great and I had just finished driving from Calgary, AB to Charlotte, NC. It was a 3-day drive of sightseeing and adventure. This was supposed to be a vacation for me and my ex at the time. Our goal was to go to Charlotte where I had lived to pack up a few things and hang out with some friends. Then our trip would take us up to Buffalo to visit family then back to Calgary. Little did I know the first night we arrived back in Charlotte my life would take a drastic change.  

I suffered my traumatic brain injury April 20, 2014 at a storage facility parking lot. We had gone to go get my bed out of storage to take to my friend’s house. Apparently (I have no memory of the accident) my best friend showed up with her pick-up truck and I jumped on the back bumper. She then gunned the truck and I flew off the back cracking my head on the pavement. My friends say you could hear my head crack when it hit. It sounded like a baseball bat breaking. That night I was rushed to the hospital and was put in ICU. I had suffered a closed wound basilar skull fracture, broke my temporal bone.

The back of my head was the size of a grapefruit. I had blood coming out of my ears and nose. I lost my taste and smell and 90% of my hearing in my left ear. I didn't know my friends or my ex. I didn't know my name, what year it was or who I was. I only have flashes of memories from the hospital. My family had flown down to be with me. I didn't have healthcare coverage at the time so the hospital released me prematurely with very little instructions. I still was throwing up when I stood up and still didn't know anything, but out the rolled me. I needed a follow up MRI due to all the blood on my brain but my neuron wouldn't give it to me due to cost.

So, I did all that I thought I could do, I began a search to find a way to heal from this wound that turned my life upside down. It hasn't been easy. Trying to heal from my brain injury and be your own advocate is something words cannot even express. I lost many friends, lost my relationship and really my prior life. I had to figure out who I was now and how to function like all of us with TBI'S do.

I had to move back home to Buffalo to get the treatment I needed. Since then I have gotten my MRI, my neuron psych test and have final results of the damage on my brain. I have ADD, my verbal learning, high concentration and working memory are all impaired. It will be 3 years this April and I should say I am proud of myself for how far I have come. It’s not easy but I will say I now see all the blessings I have had due to my injury not to mention the other TBI survivors I now call friends!

I keep pushing forward and finding, trying new ways to heal. I have learned we never really heal from a TBI as much as we learn to live harmoniously with it and bloom into this new person who got a second chance at life! I hope to inspire and help others like myself so no one ever feels like they are alone in this. Pain is inevitable but suffering is a choice and I am choosing to live!!! 

Thank you TBI One Love, for letting me be a part of such a powerful family!

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