Posted on August 26, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 22 of 22 in the series DJ

So, in August another neuropsych evaluation proved that actually, some deficits were worse, few better.  It was time for something different.   Dorothee identified Communicare in Clearwater, Florida.  I was courted by them, shown Clearwater Beach, introduced to marathoners, bikers and what seemed like a much more active and interactional and caring attitude.  WRONG!!  They lied about classes at Abilities for computer classes, and then re traced their lie and said I would attend “six month classes at the local library”.  Libraries don’t do six month classes!!  At least at CCS they would meet my father halfway up I-4 and he would pick me up and I would sleep an entire weekend, but this place was further away.  Nothing of the sort was going to happen here.  So, now I’m further than home than the last dump I was in.  Now, I’m suddenly back in assisted living, why?  I have little notes from A. Neilson Galloway stating I would have an apartment within “4-7 days”.  Actually I stayed back into assisted living all the way through Thanksgiving, New years and even well into February.

Progress was not progress unless you were cashing the six hundred dollar a day checks I guess.  I arrived at Communicare only to realize the actual gym they used was “CORA” rehabilitation.  From what I could tell that was for people that broke their arm, their hip, but not for TBI survivors.   There was a Lifestyle Gym in that complex.  I ended up there after being put at “maximal” Improvement, but not “Maximal Medical Improvement” by my doctor.  It was just a month later I found out my self about the shunt being mishandled after MRi’s.  I had started a yearly call to thank my neurosurgeon and called again for some reason to ask about why I still had headaches?

I asked Dr. Vinas’ office “why if my CT’s and MR scans are clear, is there still these awful headaches”?  They were alarmed about hearing about so many MR scans.  The next three months I was sent to two three neurosurgeons, none of which checked the shunt’s programming, however Communicare kept reporting that the valve setting was checked and found to be with the setting it was supposed to be.  NO, no it wasn’t.  I made It clear that I needed my records.  That opened up my whole world and to this day I know more about my brain injury than my current set of doctors.  The shunt can be Magnetic Resonance Image, but there must be an immediate follow up after the MR scan to check to see if the magnets changed the valve setting.   Things calmed down after they finally sent me back to Daytona.  The morning the sent me there though was another disaster.  I was awaken at 5:00am in the morning for a 1pm appointment.  Of course I was not happy about this.  I wanted to see the man and crew that saved my life, wanted to wear a nice suit and tie for them.   The man that woke me up warned that I ‘needed to get in the van and quit complaining’.  Let me know if you want to see the very quick and hard hitting foul mouthed tirade I email I sent at that very point is something you want to see, I still have it available.

I knew the appointment was at 1pm, how could I forget that?  This man agreed to meet me at the hospital at 7am on a Saturday morning for a breakfast subarachnoid hemorrhage sandwich.   I would not know what he looks like, is he cordial, what was his staff like?  Well, Communicare did their job and got me to the hospital at nine am.  I stayed in shorts and flops for this moment because I knew we would get that the suit and tie were only necessary at ONE PM!!  Sure enough, we walked into the doctor’s office – I saw eyes brighten.  I was in flops, probably left that way.  I was however walking totally without assistance, probably did not leave that way.  I brought a file with me of emails I had written to the incompetents that were supposedly brain rehab specialists.  To this day I can’t tell you if Dr. Vinas read them, I’m betting he did!!

We were told the appointment was at the time I told the driver at five am!!  IDIOT’s never listened to me, but hey, remember, I was collecting $746.66 for this comedy act and if I did not recover, they could not prove I could go back to work doing what I was doing, another long contract would ensue.   SO, we went to Denny’s and ate breakfast.  It was February and I could hear the incredible sounds of cars across the street at Daytona International Speedway getting ready for the 500 in a few days.   At one pm, I was dressed and ready to meet the man and crew that saved my life.  BUT, there is always a BUT in the plans of brain injured survivors.  I was taken out so fast that I forgot socks, but brought nice set of loafers.  I brought my Giorgio wool suit, but did not bring a belt or a tie.  I had my shirt and I damn sure put on all I had to meet doc.

The idiot caregiver that was with me just played along.  I was sitting on the bench when Dr. Vinas walked in.  He had a file with him.  I did get up when he entered, because it would be the first time he ever probably saw me upright.  I was a mess, nice clothes but not all the parts.  He stopped once he opened the door and it was a moment I won’t soon forget.  I was staring at him, him me.  I actually sat in the chair and asked Doc to sit on the patient bench.  He said he would after he checked out the shunt.  What a great meeting.  The shunt after four months of going to surgeons that did not check the valve, after we calculated there were actually SEVEN MRI’s done, was still at the place it was supposed to be.   120MMH20 or 120 millimeters of water was the proper setting.   Communicare and CCS to this point probably had collected around a half a million bucks to watch me, had probably not even cooked ten meals for me, not gotten medical records to doctors appointments, returned me to assisted living for four months for no clear reason and here we were back at Daytona.

Doc Vinas was great to talk to and I don’t even want to quote what he said to me.  His nurse came in and told me she was shocked at how far I had come.  By the way, during the time we went and ate after arriving early and the time we returned to the hospital, I went to the gift shop and bought two HUGS bouquets of flowers.   One for the ladies of ICU and one for the crew at Doc Vina’s office.  I walked into the ICU standing tall and straight and walked to the desk.  I was met by a large man in a blue suit with a badge on.  He asked who I was? I said “I’m alumni”.   I asked him who it was from the insurance company that was found in my room a few days after I got hurt, he said to just head on over to the desk.   True story, someone from the insurance company for office of long shore harbor workers had found their way into my ICU room without Brutus with a badge stopping them, did you really think I could be stopped, hell I had flowers!! Haha.  I went to the desk, there were a flood of nurses there.

I saw some eyes really lock in on me.  I could tell that there were some there that had no clue in the world who I was, then there were a few that probably would never forget me.   One finally came over and gave me a hug at which time I lost it, cried handed over the flowers as I a doing now, and thanked them for all that they did!  I am alive because Halifax Hospital In Daytona took a chance I would survive….

I live by my self now with only ADA bus rides as needed.  I ride my bike to pay bills, book my own appointments, get my own groceries and cook my own food.  I started Teamhilevel for the purpose of meeting and promoting others that also have accomplished “hilevel” things during their recovery.   Otherwise, as  my drill sergeant used to say……”lead……..follow…..or get the hell out of my way”….

I did and I will always give back

Today and forever, I am

Hilevel……….Dj Asselin.

About the Author

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