Posted on June 17, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 4 of 13 in the series Kevin

Discharged from TBI Rehab: Kevin Part Four

My first brain injury clients weren’t personal injury clients – they were severe TBI survivors who had been arrested for spousal battery, batteries that occurred largely because they were discharged from TBI rehab too early.  Ultimately all of those cases resulted in divorces, which negatively impacted each survivors chance for the best recovery.

There are two truisms to severe brain injury in a married person: First, there is nothing more important to long term recovery than a spouse.  Second, too early of discharge, puts the spouse and thus the marriage at risk.  Without a long and gradual transition back into the home, the impact of denial and behavior extremes become particularly harsh.  The risk of a destroyed marriage is increased significantly when the survivor is a male, because of the risk of violence.  Further, sexuality is very important to most men’s identity.  Being treated like a child by his lover (necessary when the discharge is too early) completely disrupts the sexual dynamic in a relationship.

Kevin isn’t able to speak to the precise explanation as to what happened, but the stark reality that his marriage was a victim is inescapable.

When you discharged from TBI rehab from Mercy did you start to feel like you were getting back to where you were?

Yeah, a little bit, yeah.  But then after that they had changed the medication or something or put me at Mercy again on the fourth floor so that for two weeks, or a week, I think they changed the medication or something.  Then I had to, they transferred me, my wife and her brother-in-law took me to Waterford, in Waterford, Lakeview and I had, they had put me on the second floor .

Is that a locked ward?

Yeah, locked.

What happened at home that made your wife after you were discharged from TBI rehab decide that you had to go to a locked ward?

I think like I got like more aggressive like, my personality changed.  Like simple things bothered me like someone not cleaning their mess up, they should have, he should cleaned it himself.  I’ve taught that with the kids, you know.  And, and then slapping her son on the back one time, and that, that, I always do that you know.  And I apologized for it and that’s when she decided that I wasn’t right either, something was wrong so they, her and her brother-in-law had transferred me from the Mercy, I was at home now, and I thought I was going back to work, no I had to go back to Mercy before they took me to Waterford, to Lakeview.

Do you think that when you were discharged from TBI rehab initially your wife had some denial as well as to whether or not you were ready to be home?

Yeah, she said I wasn’t the same and, and I don’t know, that’s why she wanted me to go to Waterford, to Lakeview and all that, and something about insurance or something like that too.

So there was some, probably some financial pressure on the Hospital in Janesville to decide that you had reached  a plateau as much as you could get from their inpatient stay and they discharged from TBI rehab?

Plus Lakeview is more, it’s for brain, it’s a brain rehabilitation center.  People suffer from, recover from traumatic brain injuries.  And I met different kind of people there.

There was a period where you were at home after being discharged from TBI rehab and had some trouble with your temper?

Like, like, she said I wasn’t the same like the small things bothered me.  And, and she says you never used to be that way she said.  And she got me a book about don’t sweat the small stuff and she said that I wasn’t the same person and that I wasn’t for her.

You’re not married any longer?


How long after your injury did you divorce?

About four years later, going on five.

Did you ever get to go back home and live with your wife?


So even though you were married for a total of four years after your injury you never really lived together again?

No.   She always came to visit, you with my daughter and her.

What does your ex-wife say about how you had changed once you were discharged from TBI rehab because of your accident?

My personality changed, and some personal stuff had changed too.  I wasn’t the same as I was before and I think that’s what did it.  That’s what changed her mind.  I thought marriage was supposed to last a lifetime, you know.   (She was) afraid and physically I wasn’t the same.  That’s, I think that’s three quarters of the reason why she wanted, wanted out of marriage I think.

Do you think if you had not gone back home after you were discharged from TBI rehab straight from Janesville but had had more time in Lakeview that you might have been able to make your marriage work better?

Yeah, yes.

Intimacy is difficult after any brain injury, even without specific sexual dysfunction.  Frontal lobe dysfunction severely alters the capacity of a survivor to do the “little things” that make a lover feel cared for and appreciated.  Add to that “physical changes” and the normal interaction between husband and wife can get seriously distorted.  With that distortion can come profound frustration, leading inevitably to behavior extremes. Some of the Kevin’s wife’s frustrations in Kevin’s case may have been prevented if they had not discharged from TBI rehab too early.

Next in Part Five –  Relearning to Walk

By 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