Hello, my name is Tim Gray and suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in 1993 when I was beaten up in Samoa by several guys. I am, of Samoan ancestry but NZ born.
I journeyed to Samoa in 1992, with my young family intent on travelling further until I received my TBI.Yes, one weekend, whilst in Samoa in 1993, I had an argument with a girlfriend of mine. So, I took off nightclubbing on my own.I got back home but met up with the Leo Leo Sa.
Every village in Samoa has these security type men, Leo Leo Sa, who patrol to make sure the file’s (Samoan Houses) and those inside it are safe.Well most of the time, the Leo Leo Sa are older, Matai title-holder (family heads) guys but for some reason on this occasion they were teenage guys.
Apparently, they asked me for money and smokes. I have no recollection of the beating in Samoa, other than waking up in NZ in 1994, in Auckland hospital surrounded by family.I remember feeling dazed and out of it, awaking from my coma.
I'm not able to get ACC in NZ, which is monetary help from government. Because NZ laws say you must be working in the country at the time of your accident (tbi) to get government assistance. So, I have had to work to help support myself, most of the time. I will be turning 55 this year.
I was in my early thirties when I got my TBI and for a brief time lived on an invalid’s benefit until reaching my forties and deciding to get back into study as an older student.
Post TBI, I have managed to get a BA degree in English, although my attempt to get into work that I've wanted, hasn't been successful. So, I work for a temping agency now, working full time hours while working a part time driving job.
When I was released from the Otara Spinal Unit (a TBI treatment Centre at the time) in 2004, there was no support mechanisms at all. I was literally shunted back into the world and told to get back to the normal processes and act as if nothing happened to me in terms of a TBI.
A close family member suggested that to me too.
Part of the reason I chose to seek TBI support, in 2016, 22 years after my TBI, were that aspects of my work ethic and practice were being questioned. I am determined to find out what parts of my brain were affected.
Seeing a neurophysiologist will cost money.I need to know what parts of my brain have been affected because I've practically lost all in my family, who I feel don't want to know me, and who may simply judge my TBI, because they are uneducated to its effects etc.
I'm lucky I have my wife, who supports me 200 percent and is willing to work hard and help me find answers to my TBI impact. I've lost friends as well and don't seem to be good at forming and keeping friendships.
So, my journey continues, but hopefully with TBI support groups like TBI One Love, my journey will be better!