Posted on October 11, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Otto

Being a TBI Survivor: Part Seven – Conclusion


With Otto, the significant brain injury in his life, was not his own, but his daughters. Our discussion concludes on being a TBI survivors parent.

We’ve been going a long time and we’ve been at this for several hours now on you being a TBI survivor.  What is it that you want to say to other dads with children with brain injuries that might help them cope, get through the hard parts? 

Well, it’s really difficult at first.  You learn things that you get angry about that you really have no business getting angry over because it’s beyond your control and beyond your child’s control.  Like the swallowing thing, that really, I didn’t know, I thought she was just doing it just in spite but then we talked to the doctors and it was like yeah, that’s normal and we, I didn’t know that.

Tell me about the swallowing thing. 

Well, she’d sit there and pouch food in her cheeks but never swallow it.

At what point? 

That was shortly after the accident.  When she came home.  And then the things that you think that a child should be able to achieve, we were going backwards at one point.  Like the bedwetting and stuff like that and it, it, it wasn’t her fault, it was just, it was the brain that was doing it.

And we were getting a little bit angry about it.  Don’t do that.  If you have questions just go ask and, and educate yourself as much as possible.

If you have another sibling, don’t forget about that child.

Do you think that your son did get forgotten a bit with all the attention you gave to Nancy as her being a TBI survivor?  


Well, it was a hard year, not only your daughter’s hurt, you’re hurt.  

Yeah. He, he really took a back seat.  My son and I are basically inseparable in the summertime because he plays baseball, I’m the coach. I’ve been coaching him ever since he was in T-ball and now that we’re in high school, I’m coaching the high school team.  He is one of my best players on the team.

He still today, I think he has a problem with the way that things went down during the accident.  It’s unfortunate, but just don’t lose sight of your other child, spend as much time possibly as you can with him, too.

How has he done overall over this family crisis and being a TBI survivors sibling?

Well he’s now 16 years old, he’s a very good athlete and he’s an entertainer. I really do think that his personality might have been a little different if he had our full attention all the time but it always seems like we’re split in two.

There’s half of us watching what’s going on with Nancy.  There’s half of us there watching what’s going on with Nancy and half of us focused on him and I think that was really hard on him. I think it still is hard for him.

He went from having a big sister to a little sister who?

And he’s taking care of her and watching out for her now all the time, on the bus, at school, you know, with his friends and then sometimes you just see that he just wants to go away, you know, be with his buddies and just get out of the house.

Compare what Otto says about his son, to what Lethan said about his sister, having to be the role model, for her older brother being a TBI survivor, at Who Am I Again?

What about preserving time for yourself with being a TBI survivors parent ?  Do you feel like your wife being a TBI survivors caregiver may not have saved enough time for herself, too? 

For herself?  Oh definitely.  She was the savior in this whole event.  I mean she had to play nurse maid to both of us, and it was hard on her.  Very difficult on her.  You know, once I was able to get up and around I did as much as I can.  I have the personality style that I don’t like to sit down, I got to do something all the time and that’s just the way I am.

Always been that way? 

Always been that way.  You know, I try to stay in shape, sports has been my life and I try to be as active as possible.

Anything else you want to add on being a TBI survivors parent?  

That’s about it.  Just hopefully that you don’t have to go through this.

I begin each interview with the question as to why they have decided to permanently put their story of tragedy out before the world. Otto’s response makes a good finish to the story about his families TBI. His words echoed our words said on  – 15 years ago:

Well it’s, it’s a story that I think that other people, families with traumatic brain injury should hear – that they’re not alone.


Attorney Gordon Johnson


About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447