Hello, my name is Walt.
September 29, 2013 is the day that changed my life. Approximately 7:00am, I started my drive to church. The last thing I remember is driving up to the intersection. From then until I became aware of being in ICU, I have no memory of that morning. My understanding is I slid and glanced off a truck in the turn lane. The car then spun around and wrapped around a handrail.
At the hospital, I was diagnosed with a moderate TBI along with a subdural hematoma. Once the doctors were sure the bleeding had stopped, I was sent home. I was really not aware of my personality changes, but others were. Essentially, my wife brought a different man home than the one who left earlier. It was a struggle to find medical professionals who understood TBI. My wife and I read many books and articles to expand our knowledge of my injury. I went through a period of trial and error. A year after the accident, one doctor sent me to speech and occupational therapy. I gained several strategies for working with the anxiety around crowds and social situations. Music has been a real comfort to me.
My guitar playing was not affected and playing seems to calm me down. I attended counseling for about two years as I discovered this "new me" and learned to accept and live him. I have not returned to my occupation of counseling as of yet as I still struggle with confusion during quick thinking and severe exhaustion. Prior to the accident, I had just started my first counseling job after graduate school. However, I have not been able to return. My short term memory is also a significant issue. I forget parts of conversations and repeat myself. Early on, I dealt with weakness in my left leg as well as my arm. It still bothers me when I'm very tired but has improved over time.
As with most TBI survivors, friends and some family have faded away. However, I have relationships of a deeper level with those still here. After two years, I've moved my outlook from what I've lost to what I have gained. I feel that I am a more honest and authentic person than I was before. My wife and I continue to have an amazing relationship. I experienced a time of bitterness in losing my new job, but have changed my perspective and know this is all just part of a bigger plan. I have had to reevaluate some things in my life. Earlier this year, I attempted to return to performing music in public. While I did well at a family party, slurring lyrics and forgotten lyrics have sidelined me. Even though I still deal with daily challenges, I consider myself blessed for I still have.