Posted on January 28, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 1 of 12 in the series Betty

Brain Injury Coma Survivor: Betty Part One – TBI Voices Begins its Second Story

I have been doing brain injury representation for over 20 years, and there are times I swear that the condition is contagious.  Of course it isn’t, but  it is such a prolific tragedy, that as soon as your attention is drawn to one TBI tragedy and brain injury coma survivor, you will soon become aware of another.

Betty’s story is just such a case.  One family’s coming together to deal with a motorcycle accident was the only reason that Betty’s was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The accident was November 24, 1982, yet that irony had never occurred to Betty until we asked her about it.

I was in a car with a fellow student from Loyola University, and she was driving 68 miles an hour and drove into the back of an 18-wheel truck, and I sustained a traumatic brain injury (which resulted in a brain injury coma).

As we said in Angela’s story,which resulted in a brain injury coma , ( will say often on these blogs, these stories aren’t about the reckless/negligent behavior that causes these tragedies.  Traumatic brain injury can happen in an instant, regardless of fault.  Yet when there is outrageous conduct involved, it does create another layer of grief for the survivor to dwell on.

A girl in the dental hygiene program asked me if I would go home with her for Thanksgiving vacation. The odd thing is I had called my parents the week prior asking them for recipes because I told them that I was going to be staying in my apartment and all of a sudden she tells me that her brother had been in a motorcycle accident and asked me if I would go home with her to spend Thanksgiving at her mother’s house.

So I agreed and I didn’t realize when she picked me up that she had already been drinking and she had a rather high blood alcohol level the police tested her with when the accident occurred – .28

The thing that bothers me is I did go to see her.  My mother and I went down to New Orleans to pick up my sister, Jane from Loyola from college the following May and she took me over to this girl’s apartment.  All I wanted to hear were two words come out of her mouth, I’m sorry, and she couldn’t do it.  I emphatically asked her what happened and she lied through the whole thing.


How Betty got to be a brain injury coma survivor:

That simple choice to seek company on Thanksgiving was a life changing fork in the road.  Betty suffered a severe brain injury in the crash, including frontal lobe (a subdural hematoma) and occipital lobe injury, requiring brain surgery.  Her accident happened near Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where her brain surgery and treatment were given.  Five weeks later when she was air flighted back to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, she was still in a coma.  She was paralyzed for two months.

As would be expected, she has a long period of amnesia, both retrograde and post-traumatic amnesia, (resulting from her brain injury coma) beginning weeks before the accident and not ending until near the end of her inpatient rehabilitation.  As Betty says: “There are days in November I remember… But I remember being in Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Hospital”  Her accident was November 24 and Sacred Heart was the third hospital she was in.  She was  hospitalized for almost three months as a result of her brain injury coma.



For Part Two, click here.

About the Author

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