Posted on May 29, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 10 of 20 in the series Jeremiah

Return to Work: Jeremiah Part Eleven

In Part Nine we talked about the frustration and fatigue that Jeremiah went through preparing himself for a return to work.  That struggle was worth it for  Jeremiah did return to work as an engineering in September of 2006. He explains his return to work as an engineer:

Well I was approached by a, a good friend of mine who was an engineering manager at GE Healthcare.  I think I approached him first, because I knew he was. I’d asked him do you have anything that you think that I might be able to do, because we went to the same church and still do.  I said is there something that you might have available?

He eventually came over to my house one day and he said: I have something that I think you might be able to do here.  It was a regular engineering position that he had open, and, as a contractor.  The only problem at that point was it was a full-time position, and so I said I don’t believe I can work full time, because I knew I couldn’t because of my rest necessity.

And then he came back another time, a couple months later, and he had another position that was part time, but it had, it required the use of a program that I hadn’t used, a CAD program.

So then he came back again, maybe a few weeks later, and he said he had another position.  It was actually in the same, all three were in the same program underneath him.   I could work whatever hours I would like to work and no necessity to work so many a week, no necessity not to.  So the only thing is I had to go through a contract agency because it was a contract, so I wouldn’t get paid by GE, and so that is what I ended up doing.

I went through a contract agency and signed a job offer letter from them, that I was hired as an engineer to do this project.  If I worked over 30 hours a week, which is what my supervisor, my boss friend told me, if you get over 30 hours a week, maybe you can work towards 40 – push yourself as hard as you can.  So the contract agency gave me a contract that said if you work 30 hours a week, well you’ll be considered full time and you’ll be entitled to all these benefits.  And so I pushed the heck out of myself, and literally that was all I could do was work, come home, do minimal rehab, which I should have done way more and also then eat and sleep.

What type of an engineer were you before you got hurt and your return to work?

Mechanical engineer. I would design products and machines.  I had designed, for instance, this isn’t what I designed but, well it was, I designed a computer back when I first started, all the mechanicals of a, a computer, but it was a different kind of computer, and it needed to open automatically and close automatically and different types of things like this.  I designed some X-ray inspection machine parts and I designed assembly machines processes.  So if you wanted to put something together, you could automatically do it, like with a robot.

What was it like to return to work to this job, what were you doing there?

Well there I started out just trying to remember many things, and even using the phone was difficult, because that’s what I had to do a lot of.   I had to talk to other businesses and learn what they were doing on a particular product, and then determine did that meet a specific standard.

It wasn’t a super-difficult process for me to do, but the memory part was difficult, and even remembering how you use their phone versus at home you pick it up and dial, which was hard to begin with too.  But then you had to learn, remember to keep track of this on paper.   The brain of mine would not remember so much.  I had to learn, I shouldn’t say even learn, but I did have to learn – but I had to enact these things that I was taught by rehab of memory methods. –  mostly writing down and typing in the computer.  So I had to (remember the) processes that I would remember how to look at them too.

For example:

Write your messages each, by time, by date.  But then you’d like well what day did I talk to this person last?  I don’t remember.  What was the name of the company?  So a computer is very helpful because you can type in the name and it’ll, it’ll do all that scanning for you.

Jeremiah was quite remarkable in being able to return to work as an engineer after he suffered a severe traumatic brain injury.

Next in Part Twelve – A Special Advocate in the Workplace

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