Memorial Day 2015. It was just another normal holiday celebration for my friends Brad, his wife Crystal and their young son Ty. Kids playing ball in the street while friends and neighbors barbecue and enjoy each other’s company. That was until car after car decide to drive too fast down the road where kids are playing. Afraid of a vehicle striking a child, Brad attempts to slow one down.
The next thing anybody sees is Brad being struck by the car and landing on the road. Frightened, Brad’s wife quickly runs over to him as he lay unconscious with blood flowing out of his ears and nose. Being a nurse, she quickly knew that he had endured severe head trauma.
Brad is transported via life flight to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, TX where he is kept in a drug induced coma for weeks. As well as suffering from more minor injuries such as a torn shoulder, four broken ribs, and a ruptured left ear drum, Brad’s brain injuries include:
• Subdural Hematoma (also known as a Subdural Hemorrhage) – Occurs when a vein ruptures between your skull and your brain’s surface.
• Intraventricular Hemorrhage – Bleeding into the brain’s ventricular system
• Subarachnoid Hemorrhage – Bleeding into the subarachnoid space of the brain
• Cerebral Contusions – A bruise of the brain tissue. Like bruises in other tissues, cerebral contusion can be associated with multiple micro hemorrhages, small blood vessel leaks into brain tissue.
• Damage to his Temporal Lobe – One of four major lobes in the brain which controls how you process sights, sounds and language.
• A severe laceration of his Internal Carotid Artery – The arteries that supply the head and neck with oxygenated blood; they divide in the neck to form the external and internal carotid arteries.
• Several skull fractures
• Brain swelling as well as a swollen Brain Stem – The stem-like part of the base of the brain that is connected to the spinal cord
Traumatic brain injuries are categorized by severity: severe, moderate, and mild injury- with the majority of injuries falling into the mild range. The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) is the most common used system for classifying TBI severity. It grades a person’s level of consciousness on a scale from 3-15 based on motor, verbal and eye-opening reactions. In general, a TBI with a GCS scale of 13 or above is mild, 9-12 is moderate, and 8 or below is severe.
Brad was a 7 on the GCS. Although there are multiple factors and different grading systems used to classify these injuries, most use similar criteria. Many times, people with more severe injuries have more severe deficits, more residual long-term impairments, and a longer recovery. Those with milder TBIs may have subtle problems that are never properly diagnosed. These categorizations are usually made early on in the course of injury and are not always in relation to the speed or extent of recovery from a TBI. Of course, every patient and every situation is different.
Brad was discharged from the hospital on June 29th, 5 weeks after his accident, then underwent two weeks of inpatient therapy at TIRR (The Institute of Research and Rehabilitation) before he was allowed to go home. After a year and a half later and continuous hours of therapy and counseling, he is still struggling with the effects from his injuries.
He has good days where he is his old funny, goofy, happy go lucky self and then he has days where he is very depressed and feels like a burden to his family and worthless. Due to his impairs, Brad cannot always control his emotions and behavior. He gets easily impatient, irritable, frustrated and can have sudden outbursts of anger without realization.
He had forgotten how to use simple things that we take for granted like a computer and turning on a stove and he doesn’t like to speak on the phone due to his loss of hearing. Brad also has memory loss, has a hard time reading, a lack of comprehension, dyslexia, and when he is speaking, he grasps for words that have seemed to have vanished into thin air.
Although he was cleared to go back to work, Brad gets fatigued and overheated easily due to his body’s inability to control his body temperature, which leads him to take breaks frequently. The Brad that I once knew loved to have a night out with friends at a sports bar watching football while drinking cold beer. Sad to say, he is unable to do that now due to crowds and loud noises. Too many people and things going on at one time frustrates him. Unfortunately, some relationships have been affected due to his struggles.
Brad is not alone as he and his wife continue to seek therapy and go to TBI support groups. Through these support groups, they have met and gained friendships with many other TBI survivors who share similar stories and struggles. It is through journaling and sharing their story with others that helps Brad and his family stay strong.
During Brad’s stay in the hospital, Crystal posted daily on a Facebook page she created in order to update family and friends on his progress. It is also through that Facebook page in which Brad has gained friends and supporters who put a smile back on Brad’s face when he’s feeling down!
Thank you for allowing us to join this supportive Family!