By Attorney Gordon Johnson
One of the often missed symptoms of brain injury are vision problems. While those surviving a severe brain injury, like Michael may get diagnosis of this problem, they can occur even in milder cases. Visual problems can come from an injury to the eye itself, to the optic nerve, to the cranial nerves that control the muscles of the eye or from an injury to the part of the brain that sees. Michael’s problems appear to originate in the muscles that control the eye.
Talk to me about the problems you have with your vision.
Well, I, my eyes will cross. I had this one all the way and that one verging. I had to get two eye, two muscle transplants; the first one was for this side to pull it over and then six months later I had another one to pull this one eye over. But the bad thing about it is now all I do is I can see straight and if I look just right I only see one. But I mostly see two of everything unless I have my glasses.
You were saying about your mother warning you about.
Oh, my mom, you know, it’s, they tell you when you’re young, don’t cross your eyes and have someone hit you in the back of the head because it’ll stick that way; it’s true. I must have crossed my eyes the split second I had the accident and hit the head rest because my eyes stuck.
You don’t actually think the reason your eyes stuck crossed was because they were crossed at the time, do you?
I have no idea. That sounds like the most logical and funny reason we could come up with.
Tell me about visual issues right now.
Right now I can’t stand sunlight, too much sunlight. I close my eye, my right eye a lot so I can see just one of things. I do that when I drive sometimes. So if you see a beige Dodge Intrepid driving on the highway, park.
Okay, let’s go back and talk about the timeline of your recovery. What you told us was that you were with your parents for about a year after you got out of the nursing home?
Well, in the fall of ’94, I think, I went back up to school and it was either the fall of ’94 or the fall of ’95.
So that would have been 18 months to – 30 months after the accident?
Yeah, I can’t really remember. I think it was fall of ’94. I really rushed myself because people asked, why did you come back so quick. Easiest answer I could tell them was I thought I was in love with somebody.
So the girl that you followed to Wisconsin – stayed here after you got hurt?
Yes. She stayed, we stayed together for another four years.
Did she involve herself in your rehabilitation at all?
No. She was up here working the summer and then school and then she was in school and then she worked that summer so she was all, she was up here. The people that really worked with me, like I said, was my dad, my mom and I’d say somewhat my sister, too.