Posted on October 14, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 3 of 20 in the series Steven

Life Before Traumatic Brain Injury: Steven Part Three

At 27 for many modern adults, family doesn’t really matter.  Like so many young men of his age, he had roommates, an occasional girlfriend and parents were a non-factor.  But making do in life without family after a severe injury is another matter. Here is his story of what his life before traumatic brain injury.

Talk to me about your life before traumatic brain injury .   What were you doing for a living in your life before traumatic brain injury?

I worked at a steel mill, President’s Island.  All I’d ever done was physical labor of some sort; construction, electrical work, anything.  I mean, basically, just physical labor because I didn’t have any kind of education or anything like specific skill sets to make it.

How long were you at the steel mill?

Going on two years at the time of the accident.

What were you doing there?

Started out running shipment and receiving department completely, and I had one person on, under me, and then I transferred just to run a machine.

You got paid better to run a machine?

It was just a lot less headache involved with it, and I got not as much stress.

Had you done shipping and receiving before you worked at the steel mill in your life before traumatic brain injury?

Not so much.  I’ve worked in shipping and receiving a little bit.  I think I was, just had a good interview with them is all it really boiled down to.

I want to go back and spend a couple minutes talking about what you can remember about your life before traumatic brain injury.  You described it as almost like what you remember of a dream, a dream you had a few weeks before. 

You were working at the steel mill. Tell me about what you did running that machine. 

There were these big, huge rolls of the steel cable, and you would go pick it up with a forklift, and you would set it on this big, like, catcher thing, and then you had to pull, which would be from, say, half an inch, maybe a quarter inch thick to, like, up almost an inch and a half thick wire, and you’d have to feed that, pull it all the way from the carrier at one end of the room of the plant that we’re in to the machine, feed it into this thing, and then start the machine up, and it would draw it down to a smaller size.

So clearly, you have fairly accurate memories of  yourlife before traumatic brain injury and  the types of things that you did at work before you got hurt?

Especially when it’s stuff like right real close to the accident because that was at the time probably the longest I’ve held a job consistently.

Do you remember about your last time being at work in your life before traumatic brain injury ?

Not at all. I knew it was the day before the accident.

Do you remember your supervisor from work or your, your former boss?

I kind of remember him, but I couldn’t say the name right now.

Do you remember the high school you went to?

I remember, like, well, I guess I, probably the one I spent the most time in.

You a high school graduate?

No, sir.  I have a G.E.D.

How many years did you go to high school?


Where did you grow up?

Kind of everywhere.  I was a military brat.  It wasn’t specific any one location.  I spent a decent amount of time in Alabama because that’s where my dad’s parents were from.

Is that where you went to high school?

Uh, one of them.  Yes, sir.

Have you ever spent any time overseas?

No, sir.

Are you married, were you married at the time of the accident?

No, sir.

Any kids?

No, sir.

Are you married now?

No, sir.

Any children?

No, sir.  I have no friends or family really.  Basically, I’ve done most all this myself.

Along with your life before traumatic brain injury, do you remember your childhood?

Yes, sir. What I do remember of that, I prefer not to.  I wish I could’ve lost all of it.

Where are your parents living now?

I have no idea about my mom, and my dad’s still in Alabama somewhere.  We don’t have anything to do with each other.

Did he come visit you in the hospital?

Yeah, it was the probably first time I’d seen or spoken to him in about seven years.

Steven’s lack of family is a stark contrast to most of our participants.  Many of our stories have included words similar to “there was a phone call” as moms and dads dealt with the shock and the waiting that is secondary to coma brain injuries. Our participants have come almost exclusively from TBI Support groups, where family and caregivers are nearly equal participants with survivors.  I believe that one of the reasons TBI Voices has so many stories of remarkable recoveries, is that the family ties have been so strong.  Surviving the survival is far more difficult without that family support.

Next in Part Four – Amnesia Ends as He Leaves the Trauma Center

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