What were your biggest obstacles to success in your return to work?
Memory and pain. Memory and pain and fatigue, and I’m sure there were other ones too.
What were the memory problems that you had at work?
Well they, they were remembering how to do things from one day to the next.
Remembering what you did the day before?
Right. That would, that might, might be difficult, especially, but with, with keeping good records, that would help, but then again, like I say, you have to remember how you order your records, because you can have whatever written down, but if you don’t know where to look on the sheet that you wrote. Same thing in your brain. It’s like a brain injury on a sheet of paper, because you can’t.
Are you still working?
How long did you work?
A year and a half about.
Jeremiah isn’t currently working. He worked for about a year and a half. I asked him if at the end of the year and a half he was earning his keep so to speak?
Well I, I believe I was, because I ended up earning more than, I saved the company more money which, see they, I wasn’t hired to save money but I, my, some of the design work I did and some things I did that they didn’t think of saved them $130,000.00 a year and that’s continuous after I left.
He lost his initial contract job with GE as a result of market conditions, not performance. Jeremiah explained his current challenges in finding another job:
I can’t find a part-time position as an engineer, and that could be for many reasons. The economy is not very good.
I’m working with Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, but it’s hard to get them to act on your behalf. You have to get the employer to call them. For instance, I just had a job interview in December. It was again with GE Healthcare, and, and I presented to them the Department of Vocational Rehab incentives. GE said, yes have them call – let me know about them. Yet left a message and the email with DVR and never heard back from anybody.
In a competitive job market, the employer doesn’t wait.
I think is important when we’re looking at ways to reemploy, especially reemploy professionals after brain injury, is to focus on a special vocational talent that an individual had before they got hurt. Many times, that talent will still persist after the injury, but may require significant accommodations, in order to reemerge. Yet if that talent is significant, it may be economically justified to make the effort.
I asked Jeremiah if his exceptional abilities beforehand made it more likely that he would have a value to an employer that exceeded any accommodation cost?
Not necessarily so much as, as the fact that I happened to know the right person, and a very wonderful person that, that helped me out.
As you look back on it, do you see that your current level of functioning, physically, emotionally, intellectually benefited from that 18 months back in the workplace?
Oh yes. Well for one thing your confidence. Prior to - you don’t know – can I do this. That’s the same thing: Walk prior to, you don’t know can I walk again ever, and you try again, you push yourself, you push yourself the next day, the next day, the next day, and eventually, you know, for me, fortunately I was able to walk again. But even if it’s trying to use a wheelchair, which I had to do as well, or even if it’s sitting in the wheelchair and letting somebody push, or sitting up in a bed.
See the thing that I must tell you is that I have experienced many different levels of disability, from being completely bedridden and unable to move at all to being in a wheelchair, to being, using a walker, to being hurting all the time, you know, which isn’t a disability probably, so they say. But so many things in many ways, and emotionally as well, so, and others.
In our next part we will discuss the emotional challenges Jeremiah has faced.
Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
firstname.lastname@example.org :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.