• Survivor or Caregiver

TBI One Love Survivor Tommy Kelley

Hi, I'm Tommy Kelley from Pensacola, it has been over 20 years since I sustained my Traumatic Brain Injury.

At the time back then, I lived with my sister and my mom. Now, it is just my sister, who has been my caregiver, in my getting better, from day one, always on top of things. As with TBI One Love, caregiving is the most essential therapy, in one getting better, the encouragement. I was leaving a party, way past midnight. As I always make sure to wear my seatbelt, I had not clicked it on (from what I was told) in. From then, I was in a coma, with my car totally smashed, demolished. 

I remained in my coma a little over two weeks, and in time I would be in rehabilitation side of the hospital. I was released from the hospital early November, to which I still had to go to out patient group therapy. The hospital let me go home the weekend before, as a trial. My Chihuahua was ecstatic. My good friends, who I started to go to church with earlier that year picked me up and brought me to church, to which I was greeted by the congregation. 

I would be picked up, for Sunday’s and sometimes Wednesday’s, where I met a lot of new friends. Other than that, as I didn't drive anymore, I went to work and sometimes I got dropped off at the mall, to go to the movies. And then, after church. we'd go have lunch, at one of the many restaurants around Pensacola.

After my six month's leave of absence, I went back to work. I was a long distance operator, for MCI, as was my sister. She had them place me with her, on the calls coming from Haiti, where we had to speak French, which I speak, being half French. It had a much lesser call volume, which is how my sister think I'd be better off. I received an operator of the month award, while working there. We were laid off in 2000. That is when I was put on Social Security. Within first couple years, worked a couple jobs, part time. I received a certificate in Web design after those jobs. 

My other therapy, when I could write again, I started writing poems, which have been invited to a couple brain injury events around town. Helped me jot down what I was thinking, get more meaning. When I went back home, Marilyn and I would go to the hospital TBI support group. I would send the group my poems, with some insight.

Now, after my mom passed away, it is just my sister, myself, and our new roommate, Ben. He's the one who got me to exercising, starting me off with walking 1 mile a day. Our 3 siblings around the world always are in touch and out to help us. With the exercising and walking going strong, I am heading to complete other goals, too, keep myself alive, not just surviving!!

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